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October 31, 2011 permalink
Chad Wells My kids wanted to be a CAS worker for Halloween tonight. "that would be really scary eh Dad" Ahhhhh the things children say, lol
Girl Goes Home
October 31, 2011 permalink
The girl was receiving services from Regional Mental Health in London and was placed in the Maitland St group home in that city. Following an assault she ran away on September 8. This is the same girl police were searching for at the home of Pat Niagara and Bobbie Gellner on September 10. She monitored Facebook groups of CAS opponents but made no contact until October 30, the day before her court hearing. The next day Bobbie drove her to the courthouse where she presented her own case. The judge allowed her to return home in the custody of her stepfather.
October 31, 2011 permalink
A Hawaii couple forgot to pay for two sandwiches at supermarket checkout. Taking a cue from banks that repossess your car when you miss a payment, Safeway repossessed their three-year-old daughter.
Couple arrested for forgetting to pay for sandwiches
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Nicole Leszczynski is nearly eight months pregnant and in distress.
"I'm infuriated. I cannot believe that this has been taken so far," she said.
Wednesday night, Nicole and her husband, Marcin, and their three-year-old daughter, Zophia, were shopping in the Safeway store on Beretania Street.
"We got into the store. I was feeling a little lightheaded and we decided to eat some sandwiches. We put the wrappers in the cart. There wasn't any effort made to conceal anything," she said.
The couple checked out, paid $50 for their groceries, but not the $5 for the two chicken salad sandwiches.
"We walked out of the store and were confronted by two men asking where the receipt was for the sandwiches," she said. "We completely forgot that we hadn't paid for the sandwiches. As soon as they confronted us, I immediately offered to pay. We had cash. The manager said that it was against store policy to pay for merchandise after it had been removed from the store."
Nicole said police were called. She and her husband were arrested and booked at the main station on suspicion of theft in the fourth degree.
"They tried to work with us, and tried to work it out so one of us would be taken at a time. Unfortunately, we both had to go in. CPS was called and they took my daughter," she said.
Child Welfare Services kept Zophia overnight. Nicole has never spent a day away from her daughter.
"I wonder if she's brushed her teeth. Is she asking about us? It's very upsetting," she said.
Shortly after our interview, Zophia was returned to her parents.
Child Welfare Services said when both parents are arrested, as in this case, the department steps in to care for the child. By law, it has three working days to assess a child's home and gather information on the parents. CPS said it works as fast as it can.
As for Safeway, a spokesman told Hawaii News Now the company will not comment because it's investigating the case.
Nicole blames the store manager for being inflexible and for insisting they be arrested.
"I cannot believe that this has been taken so far, that they would do so much damage to a family when there was not malicious intent. And there was no effort to conceal or steal from them," she said.
The Leszczynski's have a court date. They said they'll fight the shoplifting charge. They are consulting a lawyer.
Source: Hawaii News Now
Addendum: After a public hullabaloo Safeway announced on November 1 that they will not be pursuing criminal charges.
Raiding the Cookie Jar
October 30, 2011 permalink
Today's article has nothing to do with child protection but illustrates its economic model.
Employees of New York's Long Island Railroad colluded with doctors to be falsely declared disabled in order to become eligible for early retirement at full pay. The doctors shared in the financial rewards. Prosecutors moved into the case after the New York Times printed an investigative report in 2008, A Disability Epidemic Among a Railroad’s Retirees.
The railroad scheme is quite similar to the network of social workers, therapists, psychologists and psychiatrists that diagnose a child with mythical disorders (ADHD) in order to qualify for enhanced reimbursements as children with special needs.
11 Charged in L.I.R.R. Disability Fraud Plot
Eleven people were charged on Thursday in an enormous fraud scheme in which hundreds of Long Island Rail Road workers falsely claimed to have disabling injuries, with some of them collecting tens of thousands of dollars in annual pensions while spending time playing golf, law enforcement officials said.
A complaint filed in the case said Steven Gagliano, who claimed disabling back pain, went on a 400-mile bike tour.
The fraudulent payouts in the scheme, officials estimate, could end up costing a federal pension agency more than $1 billion if fully disbursed.
Ten of the defendants were taken into custody early Thursday at their homes by agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and state investigators, officials said. They included seven former railroad workers, including a former union president; a former federal railroad pension agency employee who helped the workers file claims; a doctor; and a doctor’s office manager. A second doctor is expected to surrender on Friday.
The United States attorney in Manhattan, Preet Bharara, said, “Employees, in many cases, after claiming to be too disabled to stand, sit, walk or climb steps, retired to lives of regular golf, tennis, biking and aerobics.”
The charges involving the railroad come at a time when public workers’ unions across the country have faced heavy criticism for negotiating pension obligations that led many government agencies to slash services and lay off teachers, police officers and other workers.
A sampling of hundreds of cases approved by two doctors showed that $121 million had been paid to workers whose disabilities were either fabricated or exaggerated, according to court papers, though the total was quite likely more. It was unclear if officials would try to stop the payouts, or could even legally do so, before the disbursements hit $1 billion.
The federal investigation followed reporting by The New York Times for a series of articles published in 2008 that revealed systematic abuses of federal Railroad Retirement Board pensions by Long Island Rail Road workers.
The claims of disability made by the seven people charged with obtaining their pensions fraudulently contrasted sharply with their lifestyles, according to court papers. One of the defendants, Gregory Noone, 62, of East Islip, N.Y., who receives $105,000 in pension and disability payments each year, plays tennis several times a week and played golf 140 days over the course of one nine-month period, despite his reports that he had severe pain when gripping objects, bending or crouching, the complaint filed in the case said.
Another defendant, Regina Walsh, 63, a railroad office worker who lives in New Hyde Park, N.Y., collects $108,000 a year in pension and disability payments; she had complained of significant neck, shoulder and hand pain caused by sitting at a desk and using a computer, and leg pain caused by standing for more than five minutes. But surveillance showed her shoveling snow for over an hour and walking with a baby stroller for 40 minutes, the complaint said.
And a third defendant, Steven Gagliano, 55, of North Babylon, N.Y., who receives more than $75,000 in payments annually and claimed to be suffering from severe and disabling back pain, went on a 400-mile bike tour around New York State, the complaint said.
The complaint, 74 pages long, said that “the fraudulent scheme could cause the R.R.B. to pay unwarranted occupational disability benefits exceeding $1 billion dollars if disbursed in full.”
Federal prosecutors and the F.B.I. were helped in the investigation by inspectors general from the Railroad Retirement Board and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the parent agency of the Long Island Rail Road.
Nine defendants appeared on Thursday before United States Magistrate Judge Theodore H. Katz in Manhattan; eight were released on personal recognizance bonds. A ninth defendant was taken to a hospital after becoming ill. The 10th defendant is to appear on Friday. Each defendant faces a maximum of 20 years in prison if convicted.
The Times articles reported that virtually every career employee of the railroad was applying for and receiving disability payments, giving the Long Island Rail Road a disability rate three to four times that of the average railroad.
The Long Island Rail Road, unlike any other commuter railroad in the country, allows workers to collect an early pension, in some cases at age 50, which they can supplement with disability pensions from the federal railroad agency. The Times found that retired railroad employees who had successfully claimed disability were regularly playing golf at a state-owned course without charge — another perquisite of their disability.
Indeed, the railroad’s retirement rate was particularly striking when compared with the number of disability pensions at Metro-North Railroad, another subsidiary of the transit authority that serves commuters to New York City with a work force of similar size and composition.
Investigators involved in the case said they brought charges only in cases with the strongest proof and the most egregious instances of fraud. But in a news conference on Thursday, officials gave a warning to railroad retirees with knowledge about any continuing disability fraud.
“If you have this kind of firsthand information, we would like to hear from you,” said Diego Rodriguez, the special agent in charge of the criminal division of the F.B.I.’s New York office. “For those who choose not to contact us, there is a good chance we will be contacting you.”
Helena E. Williams, president of the Long Island Rail Road, said, “We have to be very vigilant making any improvements we can make with the mission of changing the culture at the railroad.”
Two doctors were charged in the case, Peter J. Ajemian, 62, of Syosset, and Peter Lesniewski, 60, of Rockville Centre, N.Y. A third doctor whose conduct was detailed in the complaint recently died. Together, they were responsible for 86 percent of the railroad’s disability applications filed before 2008, running what amounted to “disability mills,” the complaint said. They prepared false medical assessments and so-called illness narratives for hundreds of retirees to file with the retirement board, the complaint says.
Dr. Ajemian was taken into custody on Thursday; Dr. Lesniewski is expected to surrender on Friday. Dr. Ajemian was assisted by his office manager, Maria Rusin, 55, of Farmingdale, N.Y., who was also charged in the case, the complaint said.
The doctors were paid — often in cash — $800 to $1,200 for each fake assessment and narrative, in addition to the millions of dollars in health insurance payments they received for unnecessary medical treatments and fees for preparing false medical records to support the disability claims, the complaint said.
Also charged in the case were the former railroad union president, Joseph Rutigliano, 64, of Holtsville, N.Y., and Marie Baran, 64, of East Meadow, N.Y., who served as the Railroad Retirement Board’s district office manager in Westbury, N.Y., until she retired in 2006, according to the complaint.
Mr. Rutigliano, a former conductor with the Long Island Rail Road, retired in 1999, after a year in which he worked more than 500 hours of overtime and took no sick leave, according to the complaint. He then applied for and received disability benefits after his retirement.
Others who were charged with falsely claiming they were unable to work and receiving disability benefits were Sharon Falloon, 56, of Merrick, N.Y.; Gary Satin, 62, of Mooresville, N.C.; and Richard Ehrlinger, 64, of Bay Shore, N.Y., according to the complaint.
Ms. Falloon, who collected $90,349 annually in disability and pension payments, said she had a hard time climbing stairs, the complaint said. But surveillance video showed her taking a 45-minute step aerobics class at a gym. The video ran out after two hours, the complaint, but Ms. Falloon was still working out.
Source: New York Times
October 29, 2011 permalink
In Philadelphia Linda Weston qualified as a foster parent by killing a person already in her foster care. Really.
Philadelphia judge says DHS advised him to place child with Weston
Judge Kevin Dougherty, head of the city's Juvenile and Family Courts, acknowledged Thursday that in 2002 he placed a young girl in the custody of her aunt, convicted murderer Linda Ann Weston - and added that he did so at the recommendation of the Department of Human Services, a child advocate, and the girl's mother.
Police say the child, Beatrice Weston, became a prisoner and endured years of severe abuse in her aunt's custody. Beatrice Weston, now 19, was rescued by investigators earlier this month after police discovered that Linda Weston was keeping four mentally disabled adults in a basement dungeon in Tacony and allegedly stealing their Social Security checks.
When Linda Weston appeared before Dougherty in August 2002, she had already served about four years in prison for starving a man to death in a closet in her North Philadelphia apartment in 1981.
Vicky Weston, Beatrice's mother, said last week that she initially approved of her sister Linda's taking care of Beatrice. But after Linda Weston stopped letting her see Beatrice, Vicky Weston said, she told the judge of her sister's criminal history.
"I told that man Linda Ann Weston was a murderer," Vicky Weston said.
Frank Keel, a Family Court spokesman, said confidentiality laws limited Dougherty from commenting, but he disputed Vicky Weston's account in a statement.
"Judge Dougherty has no recollection of ever being advised of Linda Weston's criminal record by DHS, or by the child advocate, or by the child's mother, Vicky Weston, all of whom were present in court and agreed to the placement on Aug. 16, 2002," the statement reads. "DHS was a party to the action, and DHS and the child advocate recommended to the court that the child should remain with Linda Weston.
"There are serious questions still to be answered regarding the information - or lack of information - Judge Dougherty received from DHS regarding Linda Weston and her suitability as a caretaker."
Several city officials contacted Thursday seemed surprised by Dougherty's statement, and sources with knowledge of the situation expressed shock that the judge had released information about the case.
Mark McDonald, spokesman for Mayor Nutter, released the following statement:
"On behalf of DHS, we cannot and will not violate the requirements of confidentiality under Pennsylvania law. We are disappointed that the court would reveal, selectively, case-specific details in a confidential matter before the court, through a public statement.
"The city has begun a comprehensive internal investigation of all city agencies with involvement in this complicated case, and a report will be given to the mayor."
Vicky Weston told The Inquirer last week that she believed Dougherty was the judge who presided over her daughter's case. Asked about the possibility at the time, Dougherty said he had not yet reviewed the case.
Linda Weston, 51, is charged with kidnapping and other offenses in connection with the adults found in the basement. Also charged were her daughter Jean McIntosh, 32; Linda Weston's boyfriend, Gregory Thomas, 47; and Eddie Wright, 50, a street preacher who allegedly helped keep the adult victims in the basement.
On Thursday, the District Attorney's Office said it was approving additional charges against Linda Weston, as well as against McIntosh and Wright. The charges relate to the treatment of Beatrice Weston, said Tasha Jamerson, a spokeswoman for District Attorney Seth Williams.
Dougherty is known for his stern, no-nonsense approach. He has made headlines in recent years for his tough stance with teenagers and children accused of taking part in the city's so-called flash mobs, in which roving gangs of teenagers tore through Center City neighborhoods, stealing cellphones and attacking passersby at random.
Vicky Weston said she was recovering from a serious head injury and was not able to care for her children when she went to Family Court. Another relative was watching Beatrice but was not sending her to school, Vicky Weston said. Despite Linda Weston's past, Vicky Weston said, she trusted her sister to take care of Beatrice.
The judge granted Linda Weston partial custody of Beatrice.
In the statement, Dougherty said he also ordered DHS to investigate the placement and to ensure that the child was safe.
"The record reflects that Judge Dougherty had several court hearings over a span of eight months, wherein DHS represented to the court that the child, Beatrice, was safe and her needs were being met," the statement reads. "Additionally, DHS requested that the level of in-home services be reduced and ultimately the case be discharged."
Frank Cervone, executive director of the Support Center for Child Advocates, said a criminal conviction does not necessarily prohibit someone from obtaining custody of a child. He also said that in order to prevent someone from getting custody, a lawyer must show that the person's past criminal behavior is related to his or her current ability to care for a child.
"In hindsight, the crime [Weston] committed sounds pretty heinous," Cervone said. "Hearing the details of that, I think that any layperson, and I imagine any judge, would be moved to question that person's sense of humanity."
L. George Parry, a Center City defense attorney and former prosecutor, said he did not see any potential conflict in Dougherty's presiding over a case that was linked to one he handled years earlier.
"You could make the argument that this is a related case," Parry said. "Knowing the cast of characters here, I would think that he might be in a better position to render judgment."
Meanwhile, investigators are reexamining the death of Donna Marie Spadea, a 59-year-old Northeast Philadelphia woman who died in 2005 in the basement of a Castor Gardens house she was living in with Linda Weston and Thomas.
A medical examiner ruled in 2005 that Spadea died of natural causes, but the case is being reopened because of the Weston connection, sources said. Detectives photographed the basement and garage of the rowhouse this week.
A relative of Linda Weston's who did not want to be identified remembered seeing Spadea wandering across the front lawn of the property in 2005 with a scared look on her face. Linda Weston chased the woman back into the basement, the relative said.
"Linda Ann said there was something messed up with the woman, that she couldn't take care of herself, and that she was taking care of her," the relative remembered.
The relative said Spadea called Linda Weston "Mom."
There was another woman living in the basement with Spadea, according to the relative, who once saw the woman come upstairs, asking for food.
"Linda hit her with a wooden cooking spoon and said, 'What are you doing up here? Get back downstairs,' " the relative said.
Spadea lived in more than a dozen apartments through the 1990s and 2000s and rented houses in Northeast Philadelphia, South Philadelphia, and Bucks County, according to records.
She was arrested twice for shoplifting, according to court records, and spent time in two mental hospitals. She received a Social Security stipend of $130 a week. Investigators would not comment on how she might have met Linda Weston.
Relatives declined to comment this week, with one asking, "Please respect our privacy."
Police in Norfolk, Va., are also reviewing the circumstances surrounding the death of a woman who died in Linda Weston's care in 2008.
Source: Philadelphia Inquirer
October 29, 2011 permalink
When their case against a family crumbles, British social workers just add on new allegations.
Lord Justice Wall takes on an alarming child-snatching case
This seems to be a classic instance of the way social workers make a crashing initial mistake, then add ever more questionable allegations to defend their blunder.
In the child-snatching story that I have reported on here most often, the latest twists are as disturbing as anything that has gone before. The case has been taken over by Lord Justice Wall, the President of the Family Division. It is a classic instance of how, when social workers seize children on the basis of what appears to be a crashing initial mistake, they then seem to make ever more questionable allegations against the parents to defend their original blunder.
On June 27, a year-old baby that had been torn from its mother’s arms at birth (but was later returned to the couple on a judge’s orders) developed a fever. When the parents took the baby to hospital for medical advice, the staff contacted social workers, who called in the police on an allegation that the parents had drugged the baby with opium. The parents were arrested and held in a police cell for 27 hours. The baby was taken back into care.
This month, I am told, the police announced that no charges would be brought against the couple, lab tests having shown no trace of any drugs. The social workers had apparently known this for weeks. Meanwhile, they asked the police to arrest the couple on a charge of conspiracy to abduct their other five children from foster homes and take them abroad. The parents had no idea where their children were, having not seen them for many months. Again, it seems, no charges are to be brought, because there was no evidence.
Despite an order by Lord Justice Wall that the parents must again be given regular contact with their children, his order has, I gather, been ignored. There is much in this alarming case for the learned judge to investigate.
Source: Telegraph (UK)
Twins Going, Going ...
October 28, 2011 permalink
A Newfoundland mother pleads for her children:
I have 60 days to appeal my case in the supreme court of Canada, I'm 40 days in, I have no lawyer(and can't find one), no money, and government is going to get away with the forced adoption of my two-year-old old twins, and I don't know what to do or how to stop it, or how to explain it to my three other smaller children, who are in my full care, love and protection, that their brother and sister are not ours anymore. Anybody... any ideas... anything?
Addendum:There will be a protest at the Confederation Building in St Johns on Monday, October 31.
Addendum: From two different web postings by mother Lori Pynn, here is the story. Social services have placed her in the position: Don't complain about losing your twins, or we will take your three other children.
Justina's cause has its own Facebook page, Free Justina Pelletier From Boston Children's Hospital!
My Babies Need To Come Home
My story began in November, 2006. My girls were age 4 and 6 when child welfare was called to my home following a huge fight I had with my boyfriend in front of my daughter. My actions were inappropriate, I should not have done this in front of my 4 year old daughter and I would pay dearly for it. It was suggested that my girls stay with their grandmother who was very close to us. I am fortunate to have much family support.
At this time I was very happy and excited when I realized I was pregnant. I was anxious to get my girls home from a few days with Nan........which turned in weeks and months. My son was born and we were watched constantly. When he was only six weeks old a social worker assumed I was impaired and child welfare ripped him from my breast. The drug test was clean; I had not had a drink or done drugs for 5 years since before my first daughter was born.
Michael spent his first year of life in six foster homes. One foster parent was under investigation for breaking the arms of another infant in the home. It was a horrific day my 4 month old son was taken to the emergency room to be checked for broken bones and fractures. This the year for my son whom I brought into this world by the grace and pure love of God, whom I adored and treasured. I watched and could do nothing as he was deprived of me. My doctor who saw Michael twice in the six weeks I had him, said he was flourishing on his breast milk. I don’t think her statements ever reached the court as the social worker said I was not allowed to feed my son. That first year of Michael’s life the girls stayed with Nan, for which I was very thankful.
It took over a year, until in September 2008, Michael and the girls came home with me. They didn’t even know each other.
In February 2009 I gave birth to Bailey and Brian. They were preemies at 29.5 weeks who both stayed in NICU for 2 months. I was there with them every day to bring them my fresh breast milk, to give them my endless love, to share songs and stories with them. There was always a hospital ward that saw me with them.
I was never happier than when the babies came home in April, 2009 and we are all together as a family. Then in September, 2009, citing subjective rants about my mental and emotional stability, they stole all my children. From the time the twins were born until their abduction I worked hard at caring for my five children and giving them a good home. I never hurt a child in my life! I have a lot of family and community support. My doctor of 15 years supports my kids’ return, as does my counsellor of 10 years and a missionary woman in the church who has been a great spiritual help to me. I have participated in and completed parenting classes.
We went to court in February, 2010. The child welfare stand was “separate all the children, girls with their Nan, baby Michael with his father and the twins for profit. In June 2, 2010 ~ four very long months later, I was called to a child welfare room with my lawyer. The judge brought the news that I had won custody of my three oldest children. However I was told “Don’t question anything about the twins from this point onward or we are going to take the other three back.” I have been fighting ever since June 2010. I have not seen my little blessings in 16 months. I don’t know where my babies are, I have no rights to them at all, and I’m not allowed to know if they are dead or alive. I don’t know how much longer I can live like this, but the Lord tells me it will be okay.
I only have 20 days to appeal a Supreme Court ruling that I lost on Sept 20/11. I have lost a lot of precious time with my kids and I don’t know where to go from here.
My babies need to come home to me and their brother and sisters who miss them terribly.
Source: BREAKING the SILENCE
Source: Children's Justice blog
Addendum: Mother's thoughts over two years later.
June.2010, i was told by social workers, that i get to keep custody of 3 of my children, who the were 2, 7, and 9, but my 1 yr old twins would be put up for forced adoption, and i was "not to question this".
I appealed the decision, i was denied, i then appealed it to the Canadian supreme Court of Canada, i was denied. without any money or means to fight back, i lost my children, my babies, whom i carried under my heart, whom i loved, kissed adored and attended to everyday.
No matter how much i loved them, no matter how much they needed me, it was no match for the evil, lies and manipulation, against the child welfare's agenda to fraudulently take them.
It has been almost 4 yrs since Myself, my family and my children have seen our precious Bailey and Brian. 4 yrs of daily questions, "are they ok?, are they loved? are they alive?"
I believe that forced adoption is one of the cruellest forms of terrorism, and must be stopped. these types of decision are done behind closed, locked doors, without the option of a jury of my pairs,(criminals charged with the most heinous of crimes, have this option). it is done without any public knowledge, and gag orders are usually put in place as a scare tactic to mothers who want to let the world know, the injustice that happens within these walls of hell.
Until the Lord himself decides to take the breath from my body, nothing, no gag order, no bullying tactics, will stop me from telling my story with the bursting testimony that's my heart.
Source: Lori Pynn blog
Let 'em Die
October 28, 2011 permalink
A first-hand account by former CAS ward Nora-Lee Langohr shows how she almost died from the experience. Could be one reason a hundred children die annually under CAS watch.
Nora-Lee Langohr When I was eleven years old I was in a group home paid for by Peel CAS, and I had been complaining of severe abdominal pain for a month. I told the staff at this group home called Lacewood in Brampton! I also told my school and the worker I had at the time! The school called the home and told them on a few occasions that I was visibly in pain and that I should be at home and they were told I was faking! About a month after this began around 9:00 pm I was told to go to bed and as I was about halfway up the stairs I lifted my right leg to take another step up the stairs and the pain shot all they way through me causing my to fall backwards down the stairs. They finally took me me to the hospital telling the doctor that I was suicidal and that I had tried to kill myself by tumbling down the stairs! I started crying telling the doctor that it was not true and that I had fallen because of the pain I was in. They ended up doing an emergency ultrasound on me to see if I was ok and and found that my appendix was about to burst and that I needed to be rushed to surgery before it did and I died! The doctor asked me how long I was in pain for and I told him what I just told you all! He started to yell and scream at the staff that was with me telling them that I could have died and that if a child ever comes to them complaining of severe pain they should always follow up even if they believe the child is faking! He also said that me and my mother could have a case if we really wanted to! The doctor said to my mom after that while I was in surgery they were taking my appendix out and it burst as soon as it taken out!
Source: Facebook, Canada Court Watch
October 27, 2011 permalink
Here is the first picture from today's rally in Toronto. link.
Source: Facebook, Canada Court Watch
There is a video report on APTN. Here is a video showing a march and speech by Chris Carter, YouTube and local copy (mp4). The enclosed blurb with the video describes the Grass Roots Committee of Ontario.
Uploaded by FACsNiagara on Oct 28, 2011
This group has issued a, "call out to all supporters, warriors, leadership and community members for accountability and changes to the subsequent attacks on native people in this society. We want CAS (Children's Aid Society) off our communities and replaced by our own services as developed by our own people both on/off reserve level. Do our First Nation leadership have control of these programs? No, so we demand answers.There will be a feast at the end of the march."
The Grass Roots Committee of Ontario: "We created this group to be pro active on child welfare matters. More specifically CAS issues. Secondly, we are part of the 60's, 70's and 80's scoop commonly known as "60's scoop". To date, the survivors have a lawsuit with the "Attorney General of Canada (now certified-Nov 2010).
Mr. Robert Commanda is one of the plaintiffs and he is attending the gatherings to bring awareness to community people about this issue (Robert heads the 60's Scoop committee which is part of this grass roots initiative). Lastly, we support and attend to rallies which are meant to bring accountability to CAS. These are peaceful rallies and we do not believe in violent confrontations.
We are a volunteer group made up of grass roots people. We do not report to anyone but to our membership. Were not connected to any Government nor do we obtain monies from them. We're totally self reliant on donations and the good will grass roots people and our supporters. Of late, CAS-Children's Aid Society is notorious of attacking native people-"forced removal of our children" in this country. We aim to put an end to this policy by whatever means.
Join if your willing to be pro active, a team player, compassionate and can get along with others. Then come on board. In closing, we have the children, youth and families to think about and lobby for. As it is, no one is helping the most vulnerable people of this country and that has to be the grass roots people.....
Fake Social Worker
October 27, 2011 permalink
A man calling himself Matt Lyles scared a parent by falsely claiming he was a social worker for Florida DCF.
DCF impersonator alarms parent
The Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a report that a man impersonated an officer with the state Department of Children and Families.
According to a news release from DCF, a man who identified himself as DCF investigator Matt Lyles called a Santa Rosa County woman at her work on Oct. 18 and said he was investigating a complaint about her son having bruises.
The woman described the man as very professional and said he knew details about her family, including her name, phone number, place of employment, date of birth, address, her son’s day care center, her husband’s name and his place of employment.
The woman visited her son’s day care center, where employees said they had neither been contacted by nor contacted DCF about the issue. The day care center then contacted DCF to learn the agency had no open investigation on the family.
The News Journal requested the incident report in the case, which Sheriff’s Office spokesman Sgt. Scott Haines said would be available Thursday.
A similar case occurred in Bay County a week before the Santa Rosa incident, according to the release. In that case, a man and a woman knocked on the apartment of a family at an apartment complex and asked for the family’s baby.
The man wore a strange badge, the family reported, and the visitors did not state why they wanted to see the child.
Cindy Long, a family support worker at DCF’s Navarre Office, said the agency’s officers wear street clothing and carry photo IDs bearing the title “Child Protective Investigator.”
Source: Pensacola News Journal
October 26, 2011 permalink
A Facebook thread tells the story of the seizure of a family's children purely for reasons of spite. Enclosed are just the postings from family members.
Tamaira Lee I had lost my 4 children in September to false allegations. I am going through alot right now trying to get them back. I was wondering if someone would be able to give me some advise. I have a son and 3 daughter's, my boyfriend has been raising my son since he was a baby. My boyfriend's mother made the false allegations all because we wouldn't uninvite one of my sister's, her boyfriend and children to our wedding that was supposed to take place this Friday. When she found out we weren't uninviting her all because she doesn't like her she took her son out and told him she was going to make false allegations to the cas and wanted him to go along with it. He told her no and came home to warn myself and my family of what she was going to do. 2 hours later I had my worker show up. My worker did an on the spot breath alyzer test to my boyfriend and it came back 0.00, and my house was bagged and boxed and everything was in the middle of the rooms as we were being fumigated the next morning. My worker asked if I had a place for my children for the night till I got everything back in place, I said yes. My neighbour across the street took them all for the night. My boyfriends mother had found out we didn't lose them so the next day she called with more false allegations, my worker called me on the phone and asked me if I wanted to keep my children at my neighbours if she would keep them or if I wanted them to go into care and be split up and that she was apprehending them. I didn't get the apprehension papers till we went to court 2 days later. I told her obviously with my neighbour and asked for what reason. She told me that allegations and I don't want to say what it was on here as it is so sickening and twisted I can't believe his mother could ever think of anything like it. Once that was proven to be false more and more allegations went in. My worker kept telling me a new reason as to why she had apprehended my children every week. My boyfriend had found out that his mother had called our worker and told her that if she don't take my children that she would go to the paper and put the proof in it that she knows their family members. Our worker apparently didn't want to be brought out to the public that she knew them so she took them. We now have proof she does know his family. His mother had called one of my friends up telling her she knew everything. Turns out she knew where my children are, my court date and time and things I never knew. She also said she was getting the info from our worker and her supervisor, said his name and it turns out he is her supervisor. I left messages for him but never heard back, so I went to the board director and he never called me but all of a sudden I got a call that same day from my worker's supervisor. I told him everything and he was in total denial that they were giving her information. Another call went in that I apparently smoke drugs, we were supposed to get a hair test done 2 weeks in a row and didn't have it done till after my visit with my children the third week. The second week after hearing another excuse I went to my doctors and explained it to him. He did the test on me. It all came back negative. I do have a lawyer but it seems like it's dragging on and on to get them home. I am still having trouble getting my children back. Can anyone give me some advise on what I can do to get them back home? Also is it conflict of interest that our worker know's some of my boyfriends family member's?
Christine Page I am Tamairas mother and NO Andrea she is with the Hamilton CAS...believe me she is not the only one going through crap with the Hamilton CAS...
Christine Page I said I would take them and she asked me to come into my home and I told her not than as we just had our dog die from parvo and we were in the middle of tearing up the carpets and I know exactly what they are like and would of used that against us...so she said no to us...than we went to our neighbour and asked her and she said yes to take all 4 of them as the CAS was going to seperate them and believe me that would of killed my grandchildre..they are so close to their parents it is not funny...than my son in laws mother phoned CAS on us the next day and we had a worker come out to do an inspection and she even said there was nothing wrong...my family are not allowed visits unless they are supervised and no one has done nothing to those children but to love them...we are a very close family...it is a very hard situation and so many accusations that are NOT true...I need to talk to someone on the phone about all of this cause God forbid if she is on facebook (like she was...she was on my son in laws cousins friend list but has since removed herself)...
Christine Page we all did that and even blocked his mother and his siblings....but there are accusations that have been made against my son and my grandson that are horrible and not true...
Christine Page its just none of this is right and so messed up bcause of the CAS..and thank you...I am also worried about Tamaira as she has lost 5 lbs but believe me she cant afford to loose that and now has severe panic attacks which she never had bfore and is on meds for that...its just so unbelievable what they can do to a family...thank you so much hon and I will call you after that time as I am babysitting my other grandbabies...I have 10 of them...and to top it off today is my 51 birthday and I won't see my 4 grandbabies which this is the first time ever I wont spend my bday or anyspecial occassions with them...
Christine Page could you message me or my daughter on how we can get ahold of him...and thank you so much...
Christine Page Dawna, this happened in Hamilton...
Christine Page thank you and I just messaged him too...I can't sleep, I feel like I am loosing myself, I cry constantly...we went and saw them at the CAS building today and my 11 year old grandson asked me when they were coming home because he misses all of us so much...my granddaughters cry as soon as we say its time to clean up because they know the visit is over...Jared says he doesn't understand why they took them from his mom and dad..I just keep telling him that we are fighting and will not stop fighting and I promised him that we are doing everything possible to get them home with their parents where they belong...
Christine Page I know its just heartwrenching...I meet another grandmother tonight at the CAS building...she was outside crying too...I went over and talked to her, gave her my name and phonenumber and I got hers and I told her about this site and others...her daughter has the same worker as my daughter and son in law does...similar situation too...I will never give up..those babies are my lives...I have 10 grandbabies and I would go to the end of the earth and back for them...again thank you...
Source: Facebook/Canada Court Watch
all postings were made on October 26, 2011
October 26, 2011 permalink
In the Peterborough strike against CAS a new negotiator has been brought in. He is Steve Marks, a human resource consultant with experience as the director of corporate operations for the CAS chapter in Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry. The press has announced that negotiations will resume next Tuesday and Wednesday.
Canada Court Watch has been gathering some of the news you will not see in the press. Here is a set of pictures. They also have interviews, and may be releasing more in the near future. Ironically, CCW and fixcas may be the best channels for CAS workers to air their grievances.
October 26, 2011 permalink
Simon Dukes threatened blow up Bath and North East Somerset Council offices (England) to kill a social worker for getting his wife to leave him.
Fixcas reports this as news without taking sides. But here is a comment from Legally Kidnapped:
Note: Before some System Suck gets her panties in a bunch, Legally Kidnapped does not condone this sort of behavior. Never make threats. You will lose the element of surprise.
Man admits he threatened to killsocialworker
A BOMB threat was made against staff at a social services office in Keynsham, a court heard.
Simon Dukes threatened to blow up the Bath and North East Somerset Council offices because he wanted to kill his ex-partner's social worker.
Bristol Crown Court heard Dukes believed the social worker had sabotaged his relationship with his former partner by recommending to her that she leave him.
The court was told Dukes, a 25-year-old father, made threats to the social worker and other social services staff during interviews with a probation worker and psychiatric nurse.
He said he would use a gun in the offices, that he knew how to make the explosive Semtex, and that there were five members of staff at the offices he wanted to kill.
Dukes also said he would be willing to wait outside the social services office for three days for the arrival of the female social worker he wanted to kill.
Mark Humphries, prosecuting, said Dukes, of no fixed address, made the threats on July 22 and August 12.
Dukes later said that whenever he had tried to speak to the social worker, he had been escorted from the social services offices.
He later played down the threats, saying he had "no intention of hurting her, but wanted to be taken seriously".
The court heard Dukes had previous convictions for common assaults and public order offences.
Jason Taylor, defending, said Dukes felt "the system was against him".
He said: "He was in a relationship with a woman and became aware that social services were saying that she should end this relationship with him as he's a risk to her and her children.
"She didn't have any details and he found himself being run down and had no reason why."
Mr Taylor said his client made the threats after being told to be "open and honest" with his feelings in an routine interview with a probation worker.
He said: "When he was asked questions, he gave answers. Those answers were turned around on him.
"Since he has been in custody, he has had a chance to reflect and can't excuse his actions.
"It may well be a salutary lesson he's not going to forget.
"When he found the system was completely against him, he committed these offences."
Mr Taylor said the victim in the case was "unnerved by the whole experience".
He said his client had deranged thoughts and delusions of grandeur, often about the Army.
Mr Taylor said: "He was brought up by an alcoholic father who was obsessed by the Army."
When asked why he had made the threats, Dukes told the court: "Every year I tried to find out what social services were upset with me about. I did it out of frustration."
Dukes admitted making threats to kill and threats to destroy or damage property.
Judge David Ticehurst gave him a 12-month prison sentence, suspended for two years.
Dukes will be supervised by the probation service for two years and carry out 200 hours of unpaid work.
Source: Bristol Evening Post
Pet Shop Boys
October 25, 2011 permalink
In Spain babies were seized from their mothers and placed for adoption. Many of the mothers were told falsely that their baby had died. There are no reliable numbers, but the figure of 200,000 cases appears in the BBC article. Two men who discovered they were bought tipped off public awareness. They say they felt like dogs bought at the pet shop.
Spain's stolen babies and the families who lived a lie
Manoli Pagador recalls her first-born child being taken away
Spanish society has been shaken by allegations of the theft and trafficking of thousands of babies by nuns, priests and doctors, which started under Franco and continued up to the 1990s.
I first met Manoli Pagador in Getafe, in a working-class suburb of Madrid. She was attending a meeting for people affected by the scandal Spaniards call "ninos robados" - stolen children.
She has three daughters and lots of grandchildren, but she has never got over the loss of her first-born - a son - nearly 40 years ago.
She had come to think she was crazy for believing he was alive, instead of dead and buried as hospital doctors had told her.
"Now," she said, gripping my hand tightly. "Look around the room at the other women here. All like me. The same background. The same experience. I'm not mad and my family finally believes me."
In 1971 Manoli, who was 23 at the time and not long married, gave birth to what she was told was a healthy baby boy, but he was immediately taken away for what were called routine tests.
Nine interminable hours passed. "Then, a nun, who was also a nurse, coldly informed me that my baby had died," she says.
They would not let her have her son's body, nor would they tell her when the funeral would be.
Did she not think to question the hospital staff?
"Doctors, nuns?" she says, almost in horror. "I couldn't accuse them of lying. This was Franco's Spain. A dictatorship. Even now we Spaniards tend not to question authority."
The scale of the baby trafficking was unknown until this year, when two men - Antonio Barroso and Juan Luis Moreno, childhood friends from a seaside town near Barcelona - discovered that they had been bought from a nun. Their parents weren't their real parents, and their life had been built on a lie.
Juan Luis Moreno discovered the truth when the man he had been brought to call "father" was on his deathbed.
"He said, 'I bought you from a priest in Zaragoza'. He said that Antonio had been bought as well."
The pair were hurt and angry. They say they felt like two dogs that had been bought at a pet shop. An adoption lawyer they turned to for advice said he came across cases like theirs all the time.
The pair went to the press and suddenly the story was everywhere. Mothers began to come forward across Spain with disturbingly similar stories.
After months of requests from the BBC, the Spanish government finally put forward Angel Nunez from the justice ministry to talk to me about Spain's stolen children.
Asked if babies were stolen, Mr Nunez replied: "Without a doubt".
"How many?" I asked.
"I don't dare to come up with figures," he answered carefully. "But from the volume of official investigations I dare to say there were many."
Lawyers believe that up to 300,000 babies were taken.
The practice of removing children from parents deemed "undesirable" and placing them with "approved" families, began in the 1930s under the dictator General Francisco Franco.
At that time, the motivation may have been ideological. But years later, it seemed to change - babies began to be taken from parents considered morally - or economically - deficient. It became a money-spinner, too.
The scandal is closely linked to the Catholic Church, which under Franco assumed a prominent role in Spain's social services including hospitals, schools and children's homes.
Nuns and priests compiled waiting lists of would-be adoptive parents, while doctors were said to have lied to mothers about the fate of their children.
The name of one doctor, Dr Eduardo Vela, has come up in a number of victim investigations.
Dr Vela is confronted with the allegations
In 1981, Civil Registry sources indicate that 70% of births at Dr Vela's San Ramon clinic in Madrid were registered as "mother unknown".
This was legal under Spanish law, and was meant to protect the anonymity of unmarried mothers. It is alleged that this was also widely used to cover up baby theft and trafficking.
Dr Vela stands accused of telling women their babies had died when they had not and handing over those newborn children to other couples for cash.
A Spanish magazine published photographs of a dead baby kept in a freezer at the San Ramon clinic, supposedly to show mothers that their child had died.
He refused to give the BBC an interview. But, by coincidence, I had recently given birth at a clinic he founded, so I was able to book an appointment with him.
We met at his private practice in his home in Madrid. The man painted as a monster in the Spanish media was old and smiley, but his smile soon disappeared when I confessed to being a journalist.
Dr Vela grabbed a metal crucifix which had been standing on his desk. He moved towards me brandishing it in my face. "Do you know what this is, Katya?" he said. "I have always acted in his name. Always for the good of the children and to protect the mothers. Enough."
Dr Vela insists he always acted within the law.
After Franco's death in 1975, the major political parties agreed an amnesty to help smooth the transition to democracy.
But this amnesty law has never been repealed, so attempts to investigate Spain's baby trafficking as a national crime against humanity have been rejected by the country's judiciary and resisted by its politicians.
"Thirty-five years have passed since the death of the dictator… Evidently, we still have problems from the past. Social problems and personal or even cultural problems and the policy of this government has been trying to solve them," says the justice ministry's Angel Nunez.
The Spanish government's refusal to set up a national inquiry into the scandal has frustrated affected families, who in many cases are carrying out their own investigations, as best they can.
Babies' graves have been dug up across the country for DNA-testing. Some have revealed nothing but a pile of stones, while others have contained adult remains.
Spaniards have flocked to clinics to take DNA tests in the hope of reuniting their families.
The first few matches have now been made between so-called stolen children and their biological mothers. But there could potentially have already been so many more. Data protection laws prohibit DNA banks from sharing or cross-referencing data and the Spanish government has yet to fulfil its promise to set up a national DNA database.
Manoli Pagador is still tortured by the events of 40 years ago. She told me she has been taking medication ever since.
"You can't just say to yourself, I have to forget it and that's it.
"It's not something you forget, it's with you for the rest of your life."
NPR Reports on South Dakota
October 25, 2011 permalink
[ item inserted August 11, 2013 ]
Addendum: The NPR story is in our audio archive. A year and a half later the story was criticized by NPR itself.
NPR's Indian child care series rebuked
Report on S.D. system flawed, ombudsman says
A year and a half after National Public Radio aired damning charges against South Dakota’s handling of foster care for Native American children, the news agency’s ombudsman said Friday that the three-part investigative series was “deeply flawed.”
The ombudsman, Edward Schumacher-Matos, who monitors the accuracy of NPR’s reporting, said in a report published Friday night that reporter Laura Sullivan and producer Amy Walters committed “five sins” that violate the news agency’s code of standards and ethics:
- “No proof for its main allegations of wrongdoing;
- “Unfair tone in communicating those unproven allegations;
- “Factual errors, shaky anecdotes and misleading use of data by quietly switching what was being measured;
- “Incomplete reporting and lack of critical context;
- “No response from the state on many key points.”
The central theme of the series was that South Dakota was removing Native American children from their homes and placing them with white families, potentially violating the Indian Child Welfare Act, and raking in federal money for doing so. Schumacher-Matos found the reports badly inflated the federal money given to South Dakota and ignored the fact that it often is tribal judges deciding where to place children.
The ombudsman acknowledged, however, that he cannot conclude the state should not be doing more to keep Indian families together. “My investigation is of the NPR series, not of the state,” he wrote.
Gov. Dennis Daugaard’s office aggressively criticized it even before it was aired in October 2011, and Schumacher-Matos said the hostile relationship between state officials and the NPR reporters probably contributed to the report’s factual errors.
The ombudsman found the governor’s advisers were more cooperative after the fact, when he investigated the accuracy of the NPR series.
Daugaard adviser Tony Venhuizen said Friday that “we are all gratified by the report and by (the ombudsman’s) findings.
“The NPR report was very troubling because it included so much innuendo and so many statements of fact that were false or not proven. The ombudsman did what the reporter should have done. He spent almost two years asking detailed questions in a nonconfrontational way to actually try to understand the truth.”
In response to the ombudsman’s report, NPR said Friday that it “stands by the stories” and objects to the way Schumacher-Matos went about gathering information for his report.
NPR acknowledged, however, that Sullivan should have taken other steps to represent the state’s case when Daugaard officials refused to participate in the series; that it was unclear how much federal money was in play; that the story was not careful to explain tribal authorities’ role in foster care cases; and that such a complex story should have been thoroughly documented online.
“Nevertheless, in re-examining the series, we found the reporting to be sound. The patterns the series identified were well-documented. And they raise very real questions about South Dakota’s compliance with the Indian Child Welfare Act, which is under review by several federal agencies …” concluded NPR’s executive vice president Kinsey Wilson and senior vice president for news Margaret Low Smith.
Daugaard said recently that he would welcome the opportunity for tribes to take control of foster care and child protection services on their reservations.
Source: Argus Leader
Best Interest of the Child - Anthrax
October 25, 2011 permalink
The enclosed article from the Washington Post has the hallmark of a trial balloon, a public suggestion to test reaction to a policy before it is announced. Researchers want to intentionally infect children with anthrax to test the effectiveness of a vaccine.
As with all treatments of children, they will be subject to parental consent. Past experience suggests this consent will be forthcoming only for foster children. For them, parental consent means that a social worker, following orders from her boss, signs a form. Here are some previous stories on foster guinea pigs:             .
Possible study of anthrax vaccine’s effectiveness in children stirs debate
The Obama administration is wrestling with the thorny question of whether scientists should inject healthy children with the anthrax vaccine to see whether the shots would safely protect them against a bioterrorism attack.
The other option is to wait until an attack happens and then try to gather data from children whose parents agree to inoculate them in the face of an actual threat.
A key working group of federal advisers in September endorsed testing, sparking objections from those who consider that step unethical, unnecessary and dangerous. The National Biodefense Science Board (NBSB), which advises the federal government, is to meet Friday to vote on its working group’s recommendation.
“At the end of the day, do we want to wait for an attack and give it to millions and millions of children and collect data at that time?” said Daniel B. Fagbuyiof Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, who chaired the group. “Or do we want to say: ‘How do we best protect our children?’ We can take care of Grandma and Grandpa, Uncle and Auntie. But right now, we have nothing for the children.”
The vaccine has been tested extensively in adults and has been administered to more than 2.6 million people in the military. But the shots have never been tested on or given to children, leaving it uncertain how well the vaccine works in younger people and at what dose, and whether it is safe. Unlike with measles, mumps and other diseases, the chance that children will be exposed to anthrax is theoretical, making the risk-benefit calculus of testing a vaccine on them much more questionable.
“It’s hard to believe that it’s something that makes a great deal of sense,” said Joel Frader, a pediatrician and bioethicist at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. “It would be difficult to justify testing it on kids simply on the hypothetical possibility that there might be an attack.”
Anthrax is a life-threatening infection caused by a toxin-producing bacteria long considered a bioterrorist’s likely choice because it is relatively easy to produce and distribute over a large area. A week after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, letters containing anthrax spores arrived at several media offices and two Senate offices, killing five people and sickening 17 others. The FBI eventually concluded that the letters were mailed by Bruce Ivins, a disgruntled scientist at Fort Detrick in Maryland who committed suicide in 2008, although some experts question the FBI’s findings.
As part of broad effort to better protect Americans against bioterrorism, the Pentagon began a controversial military anthrax immunization program in 1998 that was challenged in court over questions about the vaccine’s safety and reliability. Currently, the Pentagon requires the shots for personnel assigned to bioterrorism defense activities and some other special units, as well as those deployed 15 or more days in the Middle East and some nearby countries, and in South Korea.
The federal government has spent $1.1 billion to stockpile the vaccine to protect Americans in the event of an attack. Antibiotics would help protect those immediately exposed. The vaccine would defend against lingering spores, which is how the pathogen lurks in a dormant state. The vaccine is made from a piece of a strain of anthrax that doesn’t cause the illness.
In April, Nicole Lurie, the assistant secretary in charge of bioterrorism at the Department of Health and Human Services, asked the 13-member biodefense board to evaluate whether the vaccine should be tested in children. A federal simulation of an anthrax attack on San Francisco, called Dark Zephyr, raised quesions about how to handle children.
“If there were an anthrax release and we needed to administer anthrax vaccine, we have no experience with kids. It’s never been in the arm of a kid,” Lurie said. “I started asking myself, ‘Is this the right way to respond in an emergency?’ ”
Those concerns were heightened by the public wariness that had been shown toward the H1N1 influenza pandemic vaccine.
“There is a lot of skepticism on the part of the public about vaccines in general,” Lurie said. “If you had a situation where a vaccine has never been given to a child, it’s pretty hard to think what you could say to people about its safety and efficacy.”
But testing drugs and vaccines in children is problematic. Parents generally are allowed to let their children participate in studies only if they would face minimal risk or would be likely to benefit directly or indirectly in some way.
“With this, you’re putting children at risk for no clear scientific or medical benefit,” said Meryl Nass, a doctor in Bangor, Maine, who is one of the most outspoken critics of testing the vaccine in children. Nass and others maintain that there are serious questions about the vaccine’s effectiveness in adults as well as concerns about sometimes serious complications among those vaccinated in the military. A variety of complications have been reported, including nervous system and autoimmune disorders, Nass said.
“Really, the core question is ‘Why? Why test?’,” said Bruce Lesley, president of First Focus, a Washington-based advocacy group for children. “We don’t want to be subjecting kids to risks needlessly.”
Some question the value of a study, saying that testing in animals indicates it will be difficult to determine what level of immune system response will be protective.
“What exactly are we going to learn?” said Vicky L. Debold, an associate professor of health administration and policy at George Mason University. “We’ll know what antibody levels these infants produce, but do we know those antibodies are going to protect against death due to anthrax exposure?”
After sifting through the scientific, social and ethical conundrums raised by this question, the eight-member working group concluded that it would be ethically justifiable to conduct a study, which would provide crucial information, such as whether the vaccine is safe and how many doses would be needed.
“A lot of things have happened that we didn’t think could happen. I think the threat is real, and we should be prepared,” said Fagbuyi, an assistant professor of pediatrics and emergency medicine at the George Washington University School of Medicine.
Fagbuyi and others dispute concerns about the vaccine’s safety, noting that the Food and Drug Administration, the National Academy of Sciences and many other independent authorities have concluded that it is as safe as other commonly used vaccines, producing serious complications very rarely.
“Our role is to protect children,” said John S. Bradleyof the University of California at San Diego, who advised the working group on behalf of the American Academy of Pediatrics. “If the military is telling us there is a credible threat, the best way to protect children is to have the data.”
If the board endorses the recommendation, Lurie will meet with counterparts at the FDA, the National Institutes of Health and other agencies to work out the details, including how many children would be studied, at what ages and doses, and how costs would be covered.
“Because it’s such a heated issue, I’ve tried hard to keep an arm’s length until the board makes a recommendation to me,” Lurie said. “To be honest, the safest and easiest thing to do would be to not make a decision and kick the can down the road. But it seemed to me it that would be socially irresponsible. I would hate for a lot of children to die because we didn’t have enough information for the public to feel comfortable getting vaccine.”
Source: Washington Post
October 25, 2011 permalink
Scouts Canada is pledging to report all child allegations promptly to police and child welfare agencies. This may sound protective to naive readers, but remember, the agency, CAS, will not take action against the abuser. Their first move will be to snatch the child.
Few cases of past abuse are known. When there is litigation over abuse, it is generally settled on terms requiring the victim to remain silent about the abuse and the amount of compensation paid.
Scouts Canada dismisses reports it didn't share child abuse allegations
Any time Scouts Canada receives a report about possible abuse, it will immediately suspend the volunteer leader in question and then notify police and child-welfare agencies, a spokesman said Monday.
"I can confirm that in all instances of abuse allegations, that information has been shared with the police and child-protection services," Scouts Canada spokesman John Petitti said. "That is true now and, as far as we can determine, that is true of years past."
Petitti said any suggestion that Scouts Canada has failed to share information with authorities about abuse allegations "either recently or many years past" is false.
But the organization was unable to answer other questions first raised by CBC News and its documentary series The Fifth Estate — including how many individuals have been suspended or terminated because of suspected abuse and whether the organization was searching its records to see if anyone may have slipped through the cracks.
Scouts Canada also declined Monday to respond to a report that said Scouts Canada has signed confidentiality agreements with more than a dozen sex abuse victims as part of out-of-court settlements in recent years.
The CBC quoted a former boy scout, Mark Johnston, who said he was forbidden from disclosing the amount of a settlement he signed with Scouts Canada.
"The fact that you're not allowed to talk about it, you feel victimized again," Johnston said.
But a Toronto lawyer says large organizations, including Scouts Canada, are much less inclined these days to press for sweeping gag orders than they were in the past due to public outcry.
Elizabeth Grace said there's been a general recognition that gag orders that prevent sex abuse victims from discussing the underlying allegations are "reprehensible and problematic" and are a fundamental breach of freedom of expression.
Grace, who has represented about 40 plaintiffs in lawsuits against Scouts Canada over the past decade, said she could not recall one occasion during the process of resolving a lawsuit when Scouts Canada sought to prevent a plaintiff from talking about the abuse he suffered.
"The more offensive, problematic kinds of confidentiality terms regarding what happened to a plaintiff, these are not being pushed to the same extent as they were at one time," she said.
Confidentiality agreements today tend to be more narrow in scope, typically revolving around the amount of the settlement, Grace said. And even in those cases, defendants are more open to allowing for exceptions, such as allowing plaintiffs to discuss details of settlements with their close family members or financial and legal advisers.
Defendants sometimes seek to prevent a plaintiff from disclosing the fact that there was a settlement and this can be a little more contentious, Grace said.
Rob Talach, a London, Ont., lawyer who has represented clients in lawsuits against the Roman Catholic Church, said Monday while public outcry has had a "persuasive effect" in reducing the number of defendants insisting on sweeping gag orders, the fact that they are still seeking confidentiality terms at all is problematic.
"Muzzling is still active and in play," he said.
Any time a victim steps forward, it has the potential to create a "snowball effect" and prompt other victims to come forward, Talach said.
"The public exposure is kryptonite for the sex offender," he said.
Source: Vancouver Sun
Adopted Girl Dead
October 25, 2011 permalink
Seven-year-old adopted girl Sophie Fitzpatrick of Chelsea Quebec is dead. Her adoptive mother, Kathrine Dufresne is accused of murder. In another report the mother is called Kelly Fitzpatrick and in still another Dufresne is called the foster mother.
Que. woman accused of killing 7-year-old daughter appears in court
OTTAWA — A Quebec woman accused of killing her seven-year-old daughter Saturday made a surprise court appearance on a first-degree murder charge Monday afternoon.
Kathrine Dufresne did not enter a plea. She looked stunned as she appeared briefly and was whisked back to prison or to hospital — court officials weren't sure which.
At the request of her lawyer, Dufresne will undergo a 30-day psychiatric evaluation. She is due back in court Nov. 24 for another brief appearance.
Police found the body of Sophie Fitzpatrick, the adopted daughter of Dufresne and her husband Murray Fitzpatrick, on Saturday in the Kingsmere neighbourhood of Chelsea, Que., just outside Ottawa. Sophie was already dead and her mother was injured in a way police have not yet explained.
Court officials had told reporters earlier Monday Dufresne would be present only by telephone link with the court from her hospital room, where she has been for two days.
Instead, she was whisked in a few minutes before court was expected to deal with her case, and left after just a few moments.
She is represented by Gatineau, Que., lawyer Wayne Lora.
Crown attorney Sylvain Petitclair was cautious in giving details of the case, but confirmed the first-degree charge means the Crown believes Sophie's death was premeditated.
The evaluation is expected to take place in the Pierre-Janet Hospital Centre in Gatineau. Petitclair wouldn't answer questions about the defendant's state of mind but said "she was physically able to appear in court today, so I think she's in good physical condition."
It's normal not to enter a plea, Petitclair said.
The court hasn't addressed the question of bail yet. Petitclair said the Crown will oppose bail in the case.
In order to adopt Sophie from China, Dufresne and Fitzpatrick would have had to submit to a rigorous and expensive process that is carefully monitored by the Chinese government.
The couple would have worked with one of three agencies in Quebec that facilitates the adoptions of Chinese children. After prospective parents submit their applications through an agency, a worker from the Quebec ministry of youth protection visits their home to ensure they are mentally, physically and economically ready to support the child.
Every country has different requirements for people wishing to adopt children from abroad. China only accepts couples who have been married for at least two years and screens to ensure they do not have a history of serious mental illness, long-term physical health problems, domestic violence, sexual abuse, child abandonment, drug abuse or alcohol abuse.
At least one spouse must have stable employment. According to Quebec's international adoption secretariat, couples can expect to spend between $19,500 and $22,000 from the day they submit their application to the day they bring their new child home.
Post-adoption support is available through the Quebec ministries of health and youth protection.
This summer, China changed a long-standing guideline requiring parents of adopted children to submit a report detailing the child's development every six months until the age of 18. Parents are now required to submit a report every five years.
Pierre Villeneuve, an administrator at Ecole Montessori de Quatre Vallees where Sophie was a student in Grade 2, would only say staff had the students' best interests in mind as they navigated the difficult first day of class without her. Sophie had just transferred to the Montessori school after spending kindergarten and Grade 1 at Chelsea's Ecole du Grand-Boise.
Normand Pauze, the principal at Grand-Boise, said the school had called in support staff to help children deal with grief and confusion. Teachers of Grade 2 students who knew Sophie well set aside 15 minutes to answer their questions Monday morning and there was a meeting for parents scheduled later that afternoon.
Pauze said the key was to let the students come to adults with questions rather than bombarding them with explanations.
"Often, as adults, we want to explain, explain, explain and that isn't good. So we must respond to their questions, and we'll see that when they have a response, they'll pass on to other things," he said in French. "We mustn't dwell on the tragic and the dramatic."
Source: Montreal Gazette
From a later news report, here is a picture of Sophie Fitzpatrick.
October 25, 2011 permalink
Pat Niagara Oct 24, 2011 Advocates from a number of Groups came together again in Hamilton at the Rally for Accountability and Transparency and to bring awareness to the problems within the Ontario Children's Aid Society. Over 500 people attended the 9th Annual Grape Expectations Gala that was held at Carmen's
Video to Follow
October 24, 2011 permalink
October 22, 2011 permalink
MOM TO TAKE BABY HOME THIS WEEKEND
On October 21, 2011 answering a call for support at the Greater Niagara General Hospital advocates came together In order to support a young couple whose child was at risk of apprehension. After a long anxiety ridden day FACS workers made their appearance and after a long meeting with the parents and supporters the news to report Is great, baby girl gets to go home with mom and dad. New friendships were formed and many stories shared and at the end of the day everyone went home happy.
Thank you to FACS Niagara workers who did the right thing In this case.
OCT 21, 2011 Photos by PAT NIAGARA
Another case in the same thread:
Chris York With a bit of luck at the end of this month on the 31st there may just be another child going home to her mother thanks to all the help of Canada Court Watch and the rest of the advocates out here. A judge has order the child to be in the court so they can hear from the child directly regardless of what the CAS has to say. This child IS going to be heard on the 31st and could very well be out trick or treating with her mom that night. This is all huge news for advocates alike in Ontario as the tide is starting to turn and our hard work is starting to pay off... children are going home and children originally destined to be apprehended by the CAS are being left in their homes and CAS is running from the cameras. Its news like this that makes me dam PROUD to be a member of Canada Court Watch. We can rejoice in knowing that there are 2 children saved from the evil clutches of over zealous lying workers looking to fatten their bank books. October 22, 2011
Addendum: Seven months later, CAS ended the case against this family.
Foster Boy Blinded
October 22, 2011 permalink
A Colorado boy has been blinded by his foster mother.
Alleged child abuse may leave infant blind
Grand jury indicts Leadville woman on three counts
LEADVILLE, Colorado — Lake County social services took a 7-month-old boy away from his parents, and the woman they placed him with is now charged with felony child abuse after allegedly inflicting injuries that may leave the child blind.
A grand jury indicted Shawna Nacke, of Leadville, on two felony counts of child abuse and one misdemeanor count. Nacke turned herself in and is free on $20,000 bond.
The case goes directly to Lake County District Court and Judge Karen Romeo.
Nacke faces up to 32 years in prison. The grand jury indicted her on charges of:
- Class 3 felony child abuse. Knowingly or recklessly causing serious bodily to a child.
- Class 4 felony child abuse. Negligently causing serious bodily injury to a child.
- Class 2 misdemeanor child abuse. Negligently causing bodily injury to a child.
District Attorney Mark Hurlbert says they don't know yet whether they'll go for the maximum sentence.
Nacke makes her first court appearance Nov. 28.
The boy was shaken enough that he suffered “significant” brain swelling and had to have surgery to relieve the pressure, Hurlbert said.
“He's alive. There's the potential that he could be blind,” Hurlbert said.
What the police report says
At about 8 a.m. July 15, Leadville police responded to 321 Mount Harvard in Leadville when Nacke called them about an unresponsive baby, according to the arrest affidavit.
When police and paramedics arrived, the baby was taken to Saint Vincent's hospital, and quickly flown by Flight for Life to Children's Hospital in Aurora. Firefighters reported the baby was breathing on its own, that its right eye was partially closed and its left eye was open and the pupil was dilated. Its right leg had multiple bruises, Leadville/Lake County fire fighter John Ortiz said in the arrest affidavit.
Nacke agreed to speak to police and told them a toy being dropped on him by his brother caused the child's bruises, himself a toddler, that the toddler tripped and fell on him, and the leg bruises were caused by a swing.
When the boy woke up that morning, Nacke called 911 when she thought the boy was having a seizure, she told police.
Their father, Donald Nacke, had been to their house the previous night after she had gone to work, so he could put his children to bed.
Social services placed the children with Shawna Nacke and her husband because their mother has substance abuse issues, she told police. The children's father is Nacke's husband's brother.
She told police she would take a polygraph test, the affidavit says.
Dr. Lisa Zwerlinger told police that the child's mother used alcohol and drugs while she was pregnant, and as a result the child “developmentally challenged.” He's nine months old and cannot roll over on his own, according to the doctor's statement in the arrest affidavit.
Grand jury convened
Dr. Andy Sirotnick, associate professor of pediatrics and a member of the child protection team at Children's Hospital, testified that the boy's injuries would not have happened the night before, saying that if the injury had happened the night before the boy would not have survived.
The boy is going to be blind due to being a victim of shaken baby syndrome, and that because Nacke was the only adult at the residence when emergency services were called, “we can conclude that Mrs. Nacke caused the injuries,” according to Sirotnick's statement in the arrest affidavit.
This was only the second Fifth Judicial District grand jury convened since the 1960s, Hurlbert said.
Judge Romeo convened the 12-person grand jury from around the Fifth Judicial District's four counties: Eagle, Summit, Lake and Clear Creek.
They heard five days of testimony before indicting Nacke on Oct. 5.
Source: Vail Daily
October 21, 2011 permalink
Fixcas has previously mentioned frivolous reasons for taking children from parents: reading by psychic, refusing cesarean, playing doctor, walking in cold weather, not guilty of a crime, poppy-seed bagel, obesity, mother's IQ, consuming alcohol at home, parents were foster kids, military service, strolling while intoxicated, hard lemonade, mess following police raid, dad shirtless.
Today we can report some reasons NOT to take children:
A family with all of these traits kept their children even after several visits by CAS.
Court told crack mom's kids had cocaine in hair
Crack addict's home 'defied description'
While under CAS supervision for a year, a crack-addicted mother of two toddlers raised her children in such deplorable conditions that one observer said it “almost defied description.”
Taranjit Grewal, now 23, admitted Thursday she was spending $100 a day - all her welfare cheque, her earnings on fraudulent credit cards and her savings - on her pernicious habit in December 2009.
Two months earlier, Grewal let police into her 2737 Kipling Ave. apartment as a result of a domestic incident with her boyfriend, said Crown attorney Laura Bird.
“When police attended, Ms. Grewal showed them a marijuana grow op in the storage closet.”
Inside, police found eight marijuana plants, two of which were approximately four feet high, Bird told Madam Justice Faye McWatt. The judge-alone trial continues Tuesday.
“Notwithstanding this, the children were left to reside in the apartment with Ms. Grewal.”
CAS were initially involved due to concerns over domestic violence, criminal charges faced by both parents, lack of cribs and parenting skills, court heard.
CAS records indicated that in December 2009 and January 2010, “more concerns were identified and Ms. Grewal’s level of co-operation with the CAS deteriorated. She cancelled a number of scheduled visits,” said Bird.
“The obvious question this case raises is how this could have happened, especially with warning flags of the grow-op, and Grewal’s avoidance tactics,” said Bird in an interview.
And the children remained in the care of a heavy-using crack addict who had isolated herself from her family and the world, court heard.
Grewal pleaded guilty two counts of corrupting the morals of her children, then aged 28 months and 15 months, but she has pleaded not guilty to possessing a 22 calibre handgun found in her apartment on Feb. 23, 2010.
She testified her boyfriend’s friend dropped off the firearm in late November and left it there - without calling or returning to retrieve for three months - while it sat on the top of her fridge unbeknownst to her.
On Feb. 23, 2010, Grewal phoned Telehealth Ontario because she had been vomiting and suffered dizziness that early morning. While on the phone, she became unresponsive and a small child could be heard crying in the background.
Telehealth phoned 9-1-1 and police, firefighters and paramedics responded.
Grewal initially refused to let the police into her home after officers heard the tots inside. Grewal lied that her aunt was inside to conceal the disgusting crack-den conditions.
Bird attacked the veracity of Grewal’s self-serving account, noting she lied during the police statement and to officers on the scene to achieve her goals.
Grewal admitted to those lies but insisted she was now telling the truth, saying “the truth shall set me free.”
Bird suggested Grewal was lying that she didn’t know of the gun’s presence to spare herself a jail sentence.
The two children, now aged four years and three years old, were found with mid-levels of cocaine in their hair strands. They are now in foster care and under different names.
CAS executive director David Rivard said he couldn’t comment on the specifics of a particular case, but his intake officers remove children from dangerous homes.
But most children, up to 90%, remain in their homes under CAS supervision.
“Every effort is made to ensure that the children are safe. We make unannounced visits and scheduled visits,” said Rivard.
Source: Toronto Sun
The next day in another Toronto Sun article there was a picture of the good bathroom.
Bullying, Child Abuse, Neglect
Alienation, Kidnap, Murder
October 21, 2011 permalink
Pat Niagara On October 20, 2011 members of various groups came together as the Children's Army to discuss issues plaguing the Child Protection System. After decades of dishonourable and deafening silence on the part of our government, we, the people, must take action to protect our children from these “big agencies” that have forgotten the "best interests of the children" in favour of the “best interest of the shareholders”. Our children are under siege and we are now at a face-off between bad corporations and good parents.
2 Videos to follow.
Source: Facebook, Canada Court Watch
October 21, 2011 permalink
A tenth of Americans have been falsely accused of abuse. The most common accusation is child abuse. A press release and survey results from SAVE, Stop Abusive and Violent Environments, are enclosed.
Stop Abusive and Violent Environments
One in 10 Falsely Accused of Abuse: Survey
Washington, DC/October 17, 2011 -- One in 10 adults has been falsely accused of domestic violence, child abuse, or sexual assault, according to a survey conducted by Stop Abusive and Violent Environments (SAVE). The survey also found a strong disparity between the number of males and females falsely accused: more than three quarters of all false accusations are levied against men. Nearly seven in 10 false accusers are female.
The survey is the first of its kind to be undertaken, and uncovers distressing trends within the American abuse-reduction system.
Child abuse is the commonest false charge -- about twice as many people have been falsely accused of child abuse as of domestic violence or sexual assault. In over one quarter of cases, the false allegations were made in a child custody case.
"Each year, millions of innocent Americans are falsely accused of abuse," explains SAVE spokesman Philip W. Cook. "These false allegations can strip persons of their assets, harm their families, and ruin their lives."
False allegations of domestic violence often lead to family break-up, which forces children into single parent households. Such children face a far greater risk of juvenile delinquency, school drop-out, and teenage pregnancy. One analysis concluded such allegations lead to $20 billion a year in increased welfare and public benefit costs: http://www.saveservices.org/downloads/False-Allegations-Harm-Families-and-Children
Although past studies have examined false abuse allegations within specified groups, no national inquiry previously had been made. To this end, SAVE commissioned the national telephone survey, which queried 20,000 households around the country during two rounds in May and September 2011. More information about the survey methods and results can be seen here: http://www.saveservices.org/falsely-accused/survey/
Stop Abusive and Violent Environments is a victim-advocacy organization working for evidence-based solutions to partner violence: www.saveservices.org.
Source: CISION Wire
In 2011 Stop Abusive and Violent Environments conducted the first-ever national surveys of false allegations of abuse. The surveys defined “abuse” to include child abuse, domestic violence, or sexual abuse. The surveys were conducted in two rounds in May and September, with 10,000 households contacted in each round.
These are the detailed results:
Percent Responding “Yes” Question May Survey Sept. Survey Average 1. Have you ever heard of anyone falsely accused of abuse? 48.4% 43.6% 46.0% 2. Has anyone you know ever been falsely accused of abuse? 15.5% 18.0% 16.8% 3. Was this person falsely accused of child abuse? 74.0% 57.6% 65.8% 4. Was this person falsely accused of domestic violence? 28.9% 37.5% 33.2% 5. Was this person falsely accused of sexual abuse? 48.5% 28.9% 38.7% 6. Was the person falsely accused of another form of abuse? 4.9% 19.4% 12.2% 7. Was this person falsely accused in the last year? 17.7% 16.3% 17.0% 8. Was the falsely accused person a male? 81.0% 72.8% 76.9% 9. Was the accuser a female? 69.9% 66.9% 68.4% 10. Was the accusation made as part of a child custody dispute? 25.8% 29.2% 27.5% 11. Have you been falsely accused? 11.0% 8.3% 9.7%
Due to the survey’s reliance on voter registration records and its response rate, it is necessary to exercise caution in generalizing the survey findings to the national population. The survey methods are described here: http://www.saveservices.org/falsely-accused/survey/methods
October 20, 2011 permalink
Canada Court Watch has found that CAS management directs caseworkers to tamper with records by omitting parts of the story, omissions which extend to the degree of management intervention in the decision making process. In the event of a failure, such as a child death, management has plausible deniability.
Vernon Beck CAS workers have disclosed this week to Court Watch investigators that management with some CAS agencies are forcing front line workers to alter child protection records and to make sure that instructions from management to the CAS workers to tamper with the records are kept "off the record" in order to protect management from this highly unlawful practice. This of course makes it appear that decisions are being made by the workers and not by management so in the event of a lawsuit or criminal investigation, front line workers are going to take the blame.
Source: Facebook, Canada Court Watch
Earn Big Bucks
Take Up Social Work
October 20, 2011 permalink
The Children's Aid Society of Toronto is hiring. You will need a BSW or MSW to qualify for $67,813-$82,312.
Intake Workers - Toronto, Ontario
Submit your profile for CURRENT and FUTURE opportunities
Are you a interested in a career within the child welfare field?
The Children's Aid Society offers exceptional career opportunities, training, salary and benefit entitlements.
Positions available with the Children's Aid Society of Toronto include:
- INTAKE WORKER
Centralized Intake Branch located Downtown Toronto near Yonge/Bloor Streets.
SALARY RANGE: $67,813-$82,312
INTAKE WORKER: The Intake Worker is responsible for completing investigations and assessing the need to ensure safety of children in accordance with provisions of the Child and Family Services Act, Ministry Standards, Abuse Protocols, risk assessment tool and the Children's Aid Society of Toronto policies and procedures.
- Receives and reviews referral and requests for service to determine eligibility,
- Conducts case investigations,
- Assesses risk,
- Intervenes in crisis situations,
- Provides short term counseling services for clients and makes referrals,
- Coordinates requirements for court hearings,
- Appears as a witness in child welfare, criminal or juvenile court,
- Prepares recording of case information including family case histories, correspondence and legal forms,
- Conducts and participates in physical and sexual abuse investigations.
Education and Experience:
- M.S.W. or B.S.W.; or
- Master's degree in a related field with 1 year direct experience or 2 year's relevant experience; or
- Honour BA/BSc in a related field with 1 year direct experience or 3 year's relevant experience; or
- BA/BSc in a related field with 2 year's direct experience or 4 year's relevant experience; or
- BA/BSc degree in an unrelated field with 2 year's direct experience or 5 year's relevant experience
Knowledge and Skills:
- Conceptual framework for the practice of social work, especially crisis theory.
- Ability in investigation with a high level of assessment skills.
- Ability to be decisive and effective under pressure.
- Comfort with and effectiveness in the use of authority.
- Ability to write clear and concise case notes, recordings and reports on time.
- Ability to communicate effectively with particular emphasis on competence in problem solving and conflict resolution.
- Ability to work co-operatively, both in consultation and jointly with other professionals.
- Ability to work co-operatively within many teams and to elicit co-operation from others.
- Ability to work independently and to take responsibility for one's own workload.
- Ability to manage time well, conducting investigations in a timely manner and completing administrative tasks within specified deadlines.
- High energy level and desire for an exceptionally high level of stimulation, variety and change.
- Proficiency in computer software (ex. Microsoft Word).
- Valid Ontario G or G2 Driver's License.
- Access to a vehicle for Agency work.
- Previous child welfare placement or work experience.
- Proficiency in a second language.
- Knowledge of resources in the Toronto area.
POSITIONS ARE WITHIN THE BARGAINING UNIT OF CUPE
Anti-Oppression/Anti-Racism at CAST
CAST is committed to having a workforce that is reflective of the diversity of the City of Toronto and strongly encourages application from all qualified individuals, especially those who can provide different perspectives and contribute to a further diversification of ideas.
Accommodation at CAST
We are committed to a selection process and work environment that is inclusive and barrier free. Accommodation will be provided in accordance with the Ontario Human Rights Code. Applicants need to make any accommodation requests for the interview or selection process known in advance by contacting the Human Resources Department at 416-924-4640 x2300. Human Resources will work together with the hiring committee to arrange reasonable and appropriate accommodation for the selection process which will enable you to be assessed in a fair and equitable manner.
Source: Children's Aid Society of Toronto
Big Sister is Reading
October 20, 2011 permalink
Mother Brandi Douglass blogs about her family. Recently an entry dealing candidly with a failing of her son brought an investigation by child protectors. They interviewed all three of her children at school, then came to her home to interview mom. The precipitating blog entry followed by Brandi's report of the investigation are enclosed.
I guess I'm a free range helicopter pilot.
So, yesterday I got a call from Ben's math teacher. She wanted to let me know that she had changed a math test grade from 65 to 97.
I asked her why she would do such a thing.
She said that when she asked Ben why he did so poorly on the test, he said it was because he had traded his calculator for Pokemon cards. She wanted him to have the opportunity to take the test with a calculator, and when he did, he got a 97.
I knew about the Pokemon card/calculator trade already. He's had extra chores to pay off the $20 I spent on it, and the other $20 I'll have to pay to replace it.
Anyway, I told her he deserved the 65. He's twelve and a half and has an IQ higher than Hitler. He knows his calculator is required for class and needed for the tests. If he's going to be dumb enough to trade it for Pokemon cards, then he needs to suffer the consequences of his stupidity.
And she argued with me! She thought it was only fair to give him the 97, since he clearly knows how to do the work--he just needed the calculator for the complex equations. And I reiterated that it was only fair that he get the 65, because every other kid in that class remembered to bring their calculator. Heck, one even gave up his Pokemon card collection to make sure he had one. He needs to get the 65.
Ultimately, it's the teacher's decision. I'm sure he'll get the 97, and I'm sure it will reinforce that he can be an asshat and get away with it.
What was particularly ironic about the whole thing was that the same day this took place, numerous friends posted a link to this article. It's worth the click to read it, but the gist of it is, good teachers are leaving the profession because parents are jack-wagons who won't allow them to do their jobs. It talks a lot about parents fighting teachers for higher grades for their kid, or making excuses when their kid doesn't do their work.
I can guarantee you I'm not one of those parents.
I hear a lot about helicopter parenting and free range parenting. I don't feel that I fall into either of those categories.
On the one hand, I don't ever try to protect my kids from consequences they deserve. Do I like it when they feel bad or get a bad grade? Of course not. But I also don't want them to grow up to be the kind of person who whines that they got a ticket when they knowingly parked illegally.
I don't want them to think for one second that mom and dad will bail them out of jail. I want them to know that mom and dad will still love them no matter what, and will visit them regularly at the penitentiary, but they will sit in jail until they've paid their debt to society for whatever it is they've done.
Consequences for stupid choices are hard. The sooner they learn that, the better.
Consequences for smart choices are awesome. The sooner they learn that, the better.
On the other hand, they will be in booster seats until the recommended age/height/weight. They will wear bike helmets. They will wash their hands often, and brush their teeth daily. They will not eat junk instead of dinner.
They will not ride their bikes out of my sight until I know for sure they won't get in a stranger's car. They will not play inside a friend's house if I haven't met the parents and know that parents are home.
I will not let my 5 year old use the stove or a knife without my help.
When they were babies, I put them to sleep on their sides and didn't put bedding or toys in their cribs.
I didn't eat soft cheeses even though I lived in Europe for my first pregnancy.
I hear people go on all the time about how they never wore a seat belt or a bike helmet. How they weren't put in a car seat as a baby. How their mother smoked a pack a day and washed it down with a six pack of beer when she was pregnant. How they ate lead paint chips for snack every day and look--they survived.
Just because you survived doesn't make those things safe or O.K. It just means natural selection had bigger fish to fry that week.
Yes, most of us survived those things. Our parents didn't know any better and we got lucky. But too many didn't survive them, and it's sad because it could have been prevented had people known. Of course we can't completely protect our kids from harm and injury, but I'm certainly going to do all I can.
So, I don't know what you'd call me. I don't know where on the spectrum between helicopter and free range I fit in.
All I do know is that my honor student can kick your honor student's ass, but they'll be grounded for a week if they do.
(Ooh! Speaking of school, The Oatmeal had this today. Read it right now! (There's some swearing, so beware if swearing offends you.))
Source: Brandi Douglass blog
CPS Showed Up at My Door: An On-Going Lesson in Consequences
I've been sitting here for a couple of hours. Writing. Deleting. Thinking. Fuming. Shaking with rage. Debating. Writing some more. More furious shaking. More deleting. More debating.
I know that logically calling attention to a troll only feeds their ego and gives them ammunition. In this case, however, we're talking about something much more sinister than a troll. We're talking about someone out to hurt a family. My family.
I received a knock on my door this afternoon, and when I answered it I was met by a small, blonde woman who announced that she was from child protective services and she needed to talk to me.
If you've never had that experience (and I hope you never have), let me try to describe how it feels. Your heart starts racing. Your mind starts spinning, frantically trying to recall something -- anything -- that could warrant a visit from CPS. I was in full panic mode, but trying my very best to hold it together. Or to at least not pass out.
We sat down in my living room and she informed me that the office had received a call from someone claiming that I wrote a blog post that was mentally abusive toward my oldest son, Ben. It was THIS post. Take a moment to read it.
Yes. That caused someone to feel justified to call CPS.
The woman from CPS then said, "I'm not here to take away your kids."
And I couldn't hold it together anymore. I guess just the idea that she could have been there to take them away was too much. I totally lost it.
We talked for awhile about things -- she told me she had taken each child from class individually to question them. That she had talked to Ben about it more in depth and with more specifics.
I asked her flat out if she felt I was out of line with the post. She assured me that neither she nor her supervisor felt it was an issue. Certainly not one for CPS to be involved in.
I'm not sure what exactly the person who made the report thought would come of this, but I'd like to tell him or her what did come of it.
My youngest, Amelia, had to be picked up from school because she was too upset. She has never even been spanked, so being taken to the office and asked by a stranger if her parents hit her was confusing and terrifying. Once she had some time to mull it over in her six-year-old brain after the interview, she became afraid that it meant I would start hitting her.
Amelia is an extremely anxious child by nature. She bites her nails, sucks on fabric to self soothe, and has recently developed trichotillomania. That's when someone pulls out their hair impulsively when stressed. We'd had it somewhat under control, but by the time I got her home from school a three inch by three inch section on the side of her head was completely bald.
Luckily for my middle son, Liam, his interview took place about the time his ADHD meds were wearing off. He apparently rambled on about Legos and cats for most of it. However even he was a little disturbed that a stranger came to school, took him from class, and read off a list of punishments while asking which ones he received and when. Because that's not upsetting to a seven-year-old at all. He also felt really guilty because he told her that he got soap in his mouth a couple of times last year and was worried I would get in trouble. And then he had to lay down for awhile because his chest hurt. His pulmonary artery is a temporary replacement donor vessel, and it's wearing out. Any time he's physically active or upset, he has pain.
Ben is twelve and smart enough to understand exactly what was going on. He came home extremely upset and feeling guilty. He was afraid that they were all going to be put into foster care, and it would be his partially his fault because if he hadn't traded his calculator for Pokemon cards, I wouldn't have written about it and gotten us all in trouble.
It's been hard enough for them to deal with having a deployed parent for the past nine months (my husband is in Afghanistan with the 101st Airborne Division). They don't need this as well. Neither does my husband, who has to deal with the daily stress of being at war, need the additional worry.
Because I use real names and because Ben is old enough that it's possible his friends could read the blog, I always let him read any post involving him and get his permission to post it first. He was completely fine with the post in question.
I could understand if there was some indication of imminent danger or actual abuse -- be it mental or physical -- in that or any post. But there is nothing, NOTHING, in that post to warrant upsetting three children already under the strain of a deployed parent, deteriorating health and anxiety disorders.
I don't want to seem like I'm discouraging people from making reports if they feel they're warranted. It's better to be safe than sorry. But I am asking that you think long and hard about the consequences that may come of it and if those consequences are worse than the thing you're considering reporting.
There are children out there being abused and neglected. Unfortunately, social workers can't focus as much of their attention on finding and helping those kids who truly need it because they're bogged down in following up frivolous and unsubstantiated reports. By law they have to follow up, just in case. This social worker spent an entire day on this, and that doesn't include the mountain of paperwork she'll still have to do, or the required follow up visits later in the month.
No one operates in a vacuum. Everything one does has consequences -- often far reaching ones. I always consider the consequences of leading a somewhat public life, especially how my children could be affected by it. I ask all of you to do the same.
I know that many of you only know me as words on a screen, but I'm a real person. My husband is a real person. My children are real children. We all have real feelings. And these are real consequences.
Source: Brandi Douglass blog
Damages for Reunification
October 20, 2011 permalink
Children in a British Columbia case have been awarded nearly a million dollars of government money in a case of faulty child protection. While this at first looks like a victory for families, in the end it could be the opposite. Child protectors love to admit liability in the kind of case where harm resulted from returning children to parents. After this case, their next move will be to point out to legislators that they could avoid liability in the future by restricting family reunification.
Abused children win $1 million from B.C.
A judge has ordered the province to pay almost $1 million to six children as compensation for the Ministry of Children and Family Development’s failure to remove them from an abusive home when it was readily apparent they needed protection.
B.C. Supreme Court Justice Barbara Fisher ordered the B.C. government to pay the plaintiffs $988,000 in a decision handed down on Tuesday.
The Crown admitted liability in the case, based on the ministry’s act of returning the three oldest children to their parents after apprehending them earlier, and failing to apprehend the three younger ones when they were born. The trial, therefore, was concerned only with the assessment of damages.
Two of the six children are now adults and five of them have been diagnosed with alcohol-related neurodevelopmental disorders that have affected their cognitive function and intellectual capacity. Their identities are protected by a publication ban. The couple had a total of 11 children, but only six were plaintiffs in this case.
The three oldest children were born between 1990 and 1993. During that time, social workers expressed concern about the parents’ alleged use of drugs and alcohol, physical violence with each other, limited parenting abilities, poor judgment and resistance to ministry intervention, according to the court judgment.
Police visited the family home at the request of a neighbour on March 28, 1993, two months after the third child was born, and observed that the parents were unable to care for their three small children due to their level of alcohol intoxication. The ministry then apprehended the children.
The two younger children were taken to hospital after foster parents saw bruises on the second oldest, who was 15 months old at the time. The examining doctor observed bruises on her neck, both sides of her face, abdomen and lower back, and said he thought these injuries were severe and non-accidental. On April 13, the ministry found that the children were in need of protection due to abuse of the little girl and excessive alcohol consumption by the parents.
The children’s parents agreed to attend drug and alcohol counselling and in August signed a letter of expectation in which they agreed to participate in parenting, alcohol abuse and anger management programs and to maintain contact with social workers. On Aug. 8, 1993, the ministry returned the children, all under three, to their parents.
Between August 1993 and June 1999, the mother gave birth to five more children. Social workers continued to visit the family, giving a mixture of positive and negative reports about the state of the home and the children. The ministry received more than a dozen reports from both teachers and anonymous citizens citing concerns including: domestic violence, alcohol abuse, rats and mice in the home, the fact that the children were hungry, dirty, often sick and frequently left unattended. There were also reports of bruises on the second-oldest girl.
Social workers investigated all the allegations, but in most cases found them to be unsubstantiated.
But in August 1998 a police officer found the father and another man intoxicated at 5:15 a.m. with six children in the house. A social worker noted that the house was unclean and smelled of urine. The next day, the ministry removed the children, and placed them in foster homes.
A doctor who examined the children at the time found them to be generally healthy and not malnourished, with the exception of the second-oldest girl, who had a severely deformed ear, the same kind of injury that boxers get. In a consultation report, he stated that he had the “gravest concerns about this child’s future, should she ever be returned to her biological family.”
And yet, that is exactly what happened in November 1998, when the children were again returned to their parents. The ministry had decided they were low-risk because the parents had agreed to abide by a number of conditions, which included supervision by Metis Family Services.
The principal of the school the three oldest children attended in 1998 and 1999 said they appeared sad, withdrawn and non-communicative. They had severe cases of head lice and the principal recalled seeing one of them searching through garbage cans for food. She also reported seeing injuries on the second-oldest daughter, including a cigarette burn.
In March 1999, the doctor who had attended to the second-oldest daughter learned she had been returned to her family and wrote to the ministry that she was at “extreme risk.” In May, the ministry removed that daughter, followed by the rest of the children when the couple’s eighth child, born later that month, tested positive for cocaine. The children have all since resided in various placements and foster homes.
B.C. Public Guardian and Trustee Catherine Romanko, who speaks for the children, said she was pleased the court had awarded them damages.
“These young people suffered extensive neglect and in one case, physical abuse, in their family home. They were not provided with basic adequate food, clothing, housing or normal family environment over many years,” she said in a statement. “This is a significant decision with respect to children who were not protected in a timely manner after their need became known to provincial authorities and we are still assessing the broader implications of this carefully reasoned judgment.”
The case was somewhat unusual in that the provincial government, was, in some capacity, both plaintiff and defendant. As of the beginning of 2011, the Public Guardian and Trustee had legal matters pending against the provincial government on behalf of 13 children in its care, Romanko said.
A Ministry of Children and Family Development spokeswoman said she could not speculate on what will happen next as the government is considering its options in light of the judge’s decision.
Source: Vancouver Sun
October 20, 2011 permalink
Eric Hoskins will be the minister of Children and Youth Services in the new Ontario government. Below is his biography from his own Facebook site. As a physician he may bring a new attitude to his ministry.
Dr. Eric Hoskins was first elected in 2009 to represent the people of St. Paul’s as their Member of Provincial Parliament. In 2010, he was appointed to Cabinet with the Citizenship and Immigration portfolio where he introduced the Partnership Project – a plan that is re-shaping the province’s relationship with our thriving and dynamic Not-for-Profit Sector – and helped our newcomers build a better future for their children.
As the MPP for St. Paul’s, Eric has worked to strengthen our province’s healthcare, education system and environment, while making the right investments that are creating jobs in all areas of our province. Even before he was elected, he has been fighting on behalf of tenants in St Paul’s and across Ontario to ensure that their rights are protected and that rental housing is affordable and high-quality.
Eric is a renowned humanitarian, family doctor, loving husband and father—and a proud Ontarian. He has a long and dedicated record of public service. After finishing his medical studies at McMaster and Oxford, he spent more than a decade doing humanitarian work as a doctor in war-torn regions. He later advised then-Foreign Affairs Minister Lloyd Axworthy on such issues as human rights, the landmines ban, child soldiers, peacekeeping, and Africa. Struck by his overseas experiences, Eric co-founded the international charity War Child Canada to help children in war-affected regions.
For his dedication and service, Eric has received awards and accolades such as the Order of Canada and the United Nations Lester B. Pearson Peace Medal. He was also recognized as one of Canada’s five leading activists by Time magazine.
Eric is married to Dr. Samantha Nutt, and they have a six-year old son, Rhys.
Kudos for Home Depot
October 19, 2011 permalink
Home Depot has given a small donation to Not All Dads are Deadbeats. This is in contrast to their principal competitor, RONA, which strongly supports children's aid. Support family law reform by getting building supplies at the right store.
Thank you Chatham Home Depot
I wanted to express our collective thanks to the Chatham Home Depot for their recent donation to Not All Dads Are Deadbeats.
In 2009, the Chatham Home Depot donated $100.00 to the CK Family Fest youth festival that NADADS hosted. Recently, they have helped us out with providing materials we urgently needed.
The manager Mark didn't bat an eye when we inquired about donations to our organization. We would like to thank him personally for the gesture. Your participation goes a very long way.
Source: NADADS blog
October 19, 2011 permalink
Jane Scharf The Parade of Empty Strollers was a screaming success today in Ottawa. We had about 30 dedicated CAS reformists today from across the country just givener. Sophie reports that she is thrilled with support she received. And she was especially impressed with Chris and Chad from Canada Court Watch who shouted out the corruption she had experienced first hand. Chris and Chad made her an honorary Canada Court Watchers which made her very proud (now she wants the T-shirt). We had some logistic problems with the police about going to police station so we went to the front doors of the court house instead and belted out the truth about our courts.
And a special picture:
collapseA policeman phones his supervisor to look up the definition of COLLUSION.
Addendum: Another article on the rally.
PARADE OF EMPTY STROLLERS Awareness Campaign of a CAS Charter Challenge hits the Hill and #Occupy Ottawa
On October 19th a small group of devoted people gathered on the side-walk in front of parliament hill to bring awareness of a CAS Charter Challenge that has been brought forth by a brave young Canadian woman.
Ms J Scarfe, advocator and activist states " Sophie's challenge basically says that the provincial government had no constitutional authority to give CAS the power to be police, plaintiff, prosecutor and beneficiary of cases where parents are accused of abusing or neglecting their children. The very act of transferring the matter from the Criminal Code of Canada which is the constitutional authority of the Feds to the Provincial Child and Family Services (CFSA) violates section 11 d of the Charter Rights and Freedoms. 11 d is the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty. As well this shift from Federal to Provincial drops the protection for the parents as well as the child to security of person section 7. And in cases where CAS apprehends the child because the parents are young this violates the child's and parent's section 15 Charter right to protection from discrimination based on age. Sophie hopes others like herself who have had their children taken away unfairly will present their story in an affidavit to the Superior Court of Justice in Ottawa in support of this challenge."
For a copy of Sophie's charter challenge here is the link: Challenge
Awareness is important for this case and many others where babies are simply being taken away from young mothers without just cause.
The fact that there is absolutely no Ombudsman oversight in Ontario should be a huge concern for all Ontarians.
Why you may ask? Right now CAS, nursing homes, school boards, universities, hospitals and police services etc. do not have oversight protection, giving far too much inner powers to the institutions. Currently if something does occur to a loved one...the response is "we will investigate and get back to you on the matter." Who is actually investigating these situations? Currently the investigations are mostly done in-house. If you think the investigations are to protect your loved ones, think again, because in most cases these institutions are far too busy worrying how to protect their institutions and avoid law-suits and potential criminal charges. In-house investigations is the word...rarely do these concerns or cases go any further or hit public media.
Public awareness is key to change.
Ontario is the only province in Canada that does NOT have this in their rulings.
To support this case and the lack of Ombudsman oversight in Ontario, you are encouraged to contact all levels of governments.
For more information to this cause see facebook group " Voices of Innocent Families in Ontario."
Source: Cultural Foundation Native Expressions
Women (and Children) Last
October 19, 2011 permalink
In this slightly off-topic story, cabbies in Saint John's are reluctant to pick up single women. The reason is the possibility of false accusations, enabled by today's over-protective culture toward women. So efforts to protect women are backfiring, getting them cab service last instead of first. Quite like policies over-protective of children. Something to think about next time you hear "best interest of the child".
St. John's taxis leery of young women
A taxi company official in St. John's says some of his colleagues are thinking twice about who they pick up downtown because they fear they'll be falsely accused of doing something wrong.
"It's unfortunate but today, young single females or even two females in the car... bad news. Especially if they're intoxicated," said Doug McCarthy, general manager and a driver with Co-Op Taxi in St. John's.
McCarthy said some young women are drunk and pass out on the way home.
He said that when the driver wakes them up, they can't remember where they are going. In some cases, he said they threaten to make false accusations against the driver to avoid paying their fare.
“You touched me or you did this or that or you made a proposition,” said McCarthy, describing what drivers have reported being told.
McCarthy said fear that they'll be the victim of a false accusation, such as assault of inappropriate touching, has left some drivers struggling with the decision to pick up a young girl and bring her home if she is alone.
"Rule of thumb used to be pick up young girls first, take them home, pick up couples seconds and last, pick up the guys and take them home. Now, it's reversed," he said.
Support for Ombudsman Oversight
October 18, 2011 permalink
Chris York reports that Kim Craitor, Liberal MPP representing Niagara Falls, has agreed to support ombudsman oversight of CAS.
Chris York I just got off the phone with none other then Kim Craitor. He has assured me that he is in full support of the ombudsman oversight of the CAS in Ontario and fully agrees they should have the power to not only investigate but to take disciplinary action against the CAS when they have been found to have committed wrong doing. He stated without a doubt he WILL cross party lines in support of a new bill and he was going to contact Rosario Marchese to ask him if he intends to reintroduce the bill and he stated he will support it 100%. He also advised me that if anything new comes forward on the issue at queens park he will contact me personally to let me know. We now have a liberal on side that is admitting this is wrong for what is going on. Kim Craitor I salute you. The tide is turning on the CAS and there days of absolute power are coming to an end.
Chris York Well at this point in time until he votes against it we have to give them the benefit of the doubt. He took the time to personally call me on the issue so the fact he bothered to pick up the phone and call me in regards to this especially when I'm not even in his riding says a lot I would think. He don't have to answer to me on election day and he still took the time to call me himself instead of hiding behind his staff like most of them do. Until he shows me otherwise I will give him the benefit of the doubt on this.
October 18, 2011 permalink
Lily Choy is about to be sentenced for killing someone. At least in the first two articles Albertans know who the convicted woman is. We can still only refer to the deceased as Alberta Kafka.
In the third article, all the press will disclose is that somebody did something to someone. Our research shows the dead girl is the one we call Edmonton Toddler, initials JC. A legend persists that astronauts never went to the moon. They landed a hundred miles from liftoff at Cape Canaveral then went to a studio to produce scenes for the landing. The secrecy in this Alberta case makes it worthy of similar skepticism. Did it really happen, or was it just a studio-produced press release? But it gets worse. Canada has had dozens of people spend years behind bars on false convictions, for example, William Mullins-Johnson. Sooner or later, one of these secret convictions will be of an innocent person. When that happens, the press will be muzzled, and the process that remediates false conviction will never get started.
Prosecutors, protesters push for stiffer sentence in death of foster child
EDMONTON - An Edmonton court is once again hearing sentencing arguments in the Lily Choy case. Prosecutors are asking for a much stiffer sentence than Choy received the last time she was sentenced for her crime.
In 2007, a three-year-old foster boy died while in Choy's care. He was alone in the bathroom with Choy when he suffered a fatal blow to the head.
In 2008, Choy was found guilty of manslaughter and sentenced to three years in prison. Choy successfully appealed her conviction but her new trial ended with the same verdict.
Now prosecutors say she should go to prison for 12 to 16 years. Choy's lawyer will make her sentencing arguments on Friday.
Meanwhile, outside of the courthouse, a handful of protesters showed their support to the family of the young boy who died while in Choy's care.
Jamie Sullivan says she knows how the family feels. Her daughter died on April 11th, just six days after being taken from Sullivan and put into a foster home. Sullivan blames the foster system and hopes the courts impose a stiff sentence on Choy.
"It makes me very angry that people are doing these things to our children," Sullivan said. "I mean, they're supposed to be protecting our kids."
Sullivan says she still has not been told how her daughter died.
Source: Global Edmonton
Demonstration at Law courts
Some Edmontonians will be looking for your support tomorrow for another demonstration.
On the day when former foster mother Lily Choy is scheduled for sentencing, Marilyn Koren of Edmonton is encouraging people to come out to support the family of the boy who was killed while under Choy's care.
She says there are far too many children dying in foster care across the country and that Alberta is no exception, she add's "Alberta is no different than these other provinces and we need changes to stop these senseless killings of our children"
She encourages everyone to come out at 8:30 Monday morning at the Law Courts building to lend their support. (JSL)
Edmonton aunt convicted of manslaughter in death of foster child
An Edmonton woman has been convicted of manslaughter in the death of one of six children under her care.
The woman, 26, was originally charged with second-degree murder in the four-year-old girl's death, but pleaded guilty to the lesser offence in Court of Queen's Bench on Monday morning.
The six children were placed with the woman in August 2008 by Alberta Children and Youth Services. The woman was an aunt of the six siblings, who could not be taken care of by her brother and his wife.
The woman was unemployed at the time and the children's expenses and rent were paid for by the government. Over the 2008 Christmas holidays, one of the children visited his biological parents and returned home with the news that the family would be getting back together.
"(His) statements to his siblings had a disruptive effect on the other children," according to an agreed statement of facts. The girl who later died was particularly bothered and began to rebel against her aunt.
Two weeks later, on Jan. 13, 2009, the aunt's common-law husband called 911. When paramedics arrived, the girl was found dead on the floor of her bedroom, clad only in a diaper.
An autopsy revealed the girl had bruises on her head, legs, arms face and neck. Two of her ribs were fractured and she had serious head injuries.
The woman has admitted to a physical assault on the girl in the agreed statement of facts.
"The accused caused (her) injuries by intentionally applying tremendous blunt force to her," the document reads. Those injuries were caused on Feb. 9 or 10.
The child died of cranial trauma.
"Her symptoms over time included lethargy, vomiting, incontinence; ultimately (the child) lapsed into a coma."
The facts state that no medical assistance was called for in the three to four days the child suffered through the head injury. The aunt attempted to treat the child herself by giving her cough syrup and scooping vomit from her mouth using a T-shirt.
Both the Crown and defence agreed that it is "medically possible" the child's life could have been saved with earlier medical attention.
Crown prosecutor Mark Huyser-Wierenga told court he is seeking a 12-year sentence.
A mental health assessment of the woman states that she was ill-prepared to take on six troubled children in an attempt to help her brother's family.
"She came in as a young parent, having no experience as a parent, taking on these troubled children with a distorted sense of competency," reads the report from psychiatrist Leslie Block. "Taking on such an onerous undertaking seems unrealistic and impractical, given her relative inexperience in parenting, her young age, unresolved personal problems, unstable spousal circumstances and substance abuse problems. The six children had special needs and would be taxing to even qualified foster parents."
The report also states that the woman had "minimal actual contact from Alberta Child and Family Services," despite promised support.
The assault on the girl was due to factors undetected by Alberta Child and Family Services, Block concluded.
Block also said the woman was in an altered state of reality at the time, due to her circumstances.
"Mental state at time of incident was compromised by the drug usage and the overwhelming stress she had been facing," Block wrote. "In my opinion she lacked the capacity to form intent."
The woman has been in custody twice since her arrest in Jan. 2009. She has been behind bars for a total of about two years and three months. Under provincial legislation, none of the family members can be named.
The sentencing hearing continues.
Source: Edmonton Journal
Addendum: A sentence for Lily Choy.
Foster mother gets 6-year sentence in boy's death
Foster mother guilty of manslaughter
An Edmonton foster mother convicted of manslaughter in the death of a three-year-old boy in her care has been sentenced to six years in prison.
Lily Choy, 37, was found guilty by an Edmonton Court of Queen's Bench judge last month.
Choy had been sentenced to three years after she was found guilty of the same charge in 2008, a decision that was later overturned on appeal.
In announcing her sentence Friday, Justice Donna Reed ruled the penalty imposed by the first trial judge was "unfit" because she believed Choy's actions were "much higher on the blame scale."
The boy, who cannot be named under Alberta's Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act, died of massive head trauma in January 2007 in Choy's Edmonton home.
The judge found that Choy abused the boy for a number of days leading up to the final assault that led to his death. The treatment was "callous and cruel," she said.
Choy spanked the child so hard it left bruises and left him in an unheated garage overnight wearing only a diaper. She finally lost control and used severe force to cause his fatal brain injury.
Crown reviewing sentence decision
The length of the sentence angered the boy's family.
"Six years is not fair," his aunt said. "She took this boy's life, my nephew's life, and the judge even said that she was guilty. The way I see it is that you take a life, you deserve life."
Crown prosecutor Allison Downey-Damato said the foster care system can't be blamed for what happened to the boy.
"It's very easy to levy blame at the foster care system and how it handled this case but the bottom line is this woman chose to do this to this child, and chose these actions and chose to have three more children placed in her care," Downey-Damato said.
"This was not something that was foisted upon her."
Choy's lawyer, Mona Duckett, asked the judge to impose a three-year sentence.
Downey-Damato asked for a sentence in the range of at least eight to 10 years. She backed away from her original recommendation of 12 to 16 years after considering appeal court decisions.
Downey-Damato told reporters outside the courthouse that the Crown may consider an appeal since the sentence was shorter than what was requested.
A jury convicted Choy of manslaughter in November 2008. Last year, the Alberta Court of Appeal overturned the conviction and ordered a new trial.
Addendum: This may be the final sentence in the Edmonton Toddler case. The diversionary function of this prosecution is not well served by keeping the name of the scapegoat a secret.
Foster mom gets 7 years in prison
An Edmonton foster mother who pleaded guilty to manslaughter for fatally beating a four-year-old niece in her care was handed a 7-1/2-year prison sentence Wednesday.
However, because the 27-year-old killer — who cannot be named under a provincial law forbidding the identification of people in care — has already served the equivalent of five and a half years, she was ordered to serve two more years followed by three years on probation.
Court of Queen’s Bench Associate Chief Justice John Rooke said it was aggravating that there was “evidence of severe violence” and the woman did not seek medical attention for the brain-injured child for several days.
Rooke also said it was aggravating that the victim was a child and the killer abused a position of trust “where the obligation is to care for the child, not to abuse the child in a way worse than a stranger could.”
As the woman was being sentenced, her brother — who is the father of the victim — stormed loudly out of court.
Later, the mother of both spoke of being “caught in the middle” and feeling “really angry” with the system.
“I love my daughter, but she could have asked for help,” said the mother, before tearfully hugging her son.
She also said the family is still grieving for the child.
“I miss her so much. We all do. She was such a special little girl,” she said, adding she is now caring for the victim’s five siblings and they are all doing well.
Court has heard the woman was given custody of her brother’s six children in August 2008 as a result of him and his wife being unable to care for them due to crack cocaine addictions, and she and her boyfriend lived with them in a rented west-end home paid for by the province.
On Jan. 13, 2009, emergency personnel went to the home and found the victim dead on her bedroom floor. An autopsy determined she had extensive bruising over most of her body, two fractured ribs and bleeding on the brain.
According to agreed facts, the woman caused the deadly injuries by “intentionally applying tremendous blunt force” to the child sometime between Jan. 9 and Jan. 10.
Then, despite the girl experiencing severe brain injury symptoms, such as lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea and ultimately a coma, the woman did not call for medical help.
Instead, she gave her niece cough syrup, used a T-shirt to scoop vomit from her mouth and put a diaper on her.
A defence psychological report — detailing the woman’s drug abuse problems, mental health issues and lack of parenting skills — raised serious questions as to why the province placed the six “crack babies” in her custody.
The child killer earlier apologized in court.
“I’d like to say sorry to my family for what I’ve done,” she said. “I regret it every day of my life. I think about (the victim) every day. She was my niece. They trusted me to take care of her and I failed. I’m sorry.”
Prior to the sentencing, an aboriginal smudge ceremony was held in court, leaving a lingering smell of sweetgrass.
Rooke declined to tackle the issue of whether Children and Youth Services should have placed the children with the woman, saying the case was not an inquiry. However, he noted she did not get “optimum support.”
Source: Edmonton Sun
St Catharines Rally
October 17, 2011 permalink
A Buffalo TV station covered the death of Marissa Whalen and the St Catharines rally in the same article. Here is a local copy (mp4) of the news video.
Mom charged in murder of her toddler
FORT ERIE, O.N. (WIVB) - A mother sits behind bars, charged in the murder of her own baby. The child disappeared in July, but no one reported her missing until months later.
The remains of 2-year-old Marissa Whalen of Fort Erie were found Sunday in a wooded area of Indian reservation land about two hours north of the Niagara region in Ontario. The murder has struck a deep chord in the community.
Court observer Christine Enns said, "It is a tragedy. A huge tragedy. This child was failed. It's awful."
A woman named Rainbow Hill has been charged with second degree murder. The child's mother, Roseanne Whalen, who is said to have a relationship with Hill, has also been charged with accessory to murder, as was a third woman, Amanda DiPota. Demonstrators in St. Catherines believe more could have been done to protect Marissa when the warning signs became apparent.
Court observer Cherie Clark said, "There's been numerous reports, period. 50 reports at least, and the child should have been removed from the home."
Marissa had been missing since July, but authorities say they were not notified until this month.
Former family friend Caroline Day said, "How did not anyone notice that a child had gone missing for the last four months? How didn't a grandparent not report it? How did a neighbor, you know, not simply see a child not coming in and out on a mother's hip?"
The group called Canada Court Watch is working to create an Ombudsman program for people in Ontario's Children's Aid Society. People like Marissa, they say, need someone to intervene if a case is mishandled.
Bobbie-Jo Gellner of Canada Court Watch questioned, "There is a need for child protective services. If they're not going to follow through with complaints, what are they doing?"
Authorities have not said how or why Marissa was killed, but her death has led to a rallying cry for better oversight in the handling of children's cases in Ontario.
The St Catharines Standard story includes an online video of Bobbie-Jo Gellner from the rally.
Court appearance for third woman accused in Marissa case
Amanda Dipota, 30, is sister of co-accused Rainbow Hill
The third woman charged in connection with the disappearance of Fort Erie toddler Marissa Whalen appeared briefly in court Monday morning.
Amanda Dipota, 30, of Niagara Falls, was charged Sunday with accessory after the fact to murder and indignity to human remains.
Dipota is the older sister of Rainbow Hill, 28, who was charged with second-degree murder in Marissa's death.
Although remains of a child were found Sunday on Six Nations land near Ohsweken by police investigating Marissa's disappearance, police have not yet confirmed the identity of those remains.
Roseanne Whalen, the baby's 23-year-old mother, is also charged with criminal negligence causing death, accessory after the fact to murder and indignity to human remains. Whalen is set to appear in court Tuesday.
Dipota, in handcuffs and wearing a dark blue hoodie, made eye contact with a group of family members who were sitting in the court for her bail hearing Monday. At one point, she appeared to mouth the words "I love you" to them.
During the court appearance, a woman in the group of family members gestured angrily at a reporter and said "don't do that!" while the reporter was taking notes.
That woman was identified later as the mother of Hill and Dipota by a group of women outside the court who had gathered to remember Marissa. The women said they were former friends of Hill and Whalen.
Dipota was ordered to be held in custody until her next court date, a video appearance on Oct. 24 at 10:45 a.m.
The family refused to comment after the court appearance.
Meanwhile, a relative of Whalen, who did not want to be identified, said Monday the Whalen family desperately tried to find Roseanne Whalen and Marissa over the summer.
"Everyone is saying the family did nothing, but they don't know what we tried to do," said the person, who would only identify herself as Roseanne Whalen's cousin. "They kept moving. When we found them, the next day they would be gone out of the house. They moved three times in three months.
"They don't know how hard we tried to find that baby," the cousin said.
The cousin also said Roseanne's mother is devastated by the loss. "It's hitting her hard. (Marissa) was her pride and she helped raise her until the last couple of months," she said.
Outside the St. Catharines court building on Monday, about 20 people gathered to remember Marissa, with some going inside to watch Dipota's hearing.
"We are here for the voice of Marissa," said organizer Carolyn Day of Niagara Falls, adding that she dated Hill and was friends with Whalen until Whalen began seeing Hill.
Some of the protestors outside the court on Monday wanted to draw attention to Family and Children's Services and what they claimed was a failure to protect Marissa from harm, Day said. "They did not do their job, in my opinion, to protect her," she said.
Ann Godfrey, the director of public relations for FACS Niagara, said the organization couldn't comment on what contact it had with Whalen or Hill.
"I can't say anything about specific cases, but we do get calls from the community about families from time to time and our involvement can take many forms. When we receive calls about families, we look into them and we take action if it's needed," she said. "Certainly if we receive calls, we respond to them in a timely fashion."
Amanda Mitchell, 25, of Niagara Falls, is a former friend of Whalen's who made the trip to the St. Catharines courthouse Monday.
Mitchell said she first saw Marissa on the second day after she was brought home from the hospital after her birth.
"She was just bubbly, she was a very smiley kid," Mitchell said. "She was an easygoing baby."
Mitchell called Marissa's presumed death "brutal" and unnecessary."
Day also organized a candlelight vigil that was to take place Monday night at the Leisureplex in Fort Erie.
Since Thursday, Niagara Regional Police have charged three people in connection with the death of two-year-old Marissa Whalen. Police began investigating her disappearance Oct. 8.
On Sunday, police on the Six Nations reserve discovered what they believe to be the remains of the little girl. Suspects in the case have made first court appearances.
The suspects are:
- Rainbow Ellen Hill
Fort Erie (has also lived in Niagara Falls)
- Friend/girlfriend of Roseanne Whalen, who is the mother of Marissa Whalen. sister of Amanda Dipota, who is also charged.
- Charged with second-degree murder
- In custody since Oct. 13, 2011
- Next court date is Nov. 1, 2011
- Amanda Dipota
- Sister of Rainbow E. Hill, who is accused of second-degree murder in the case
- Charged with accessory after the fact to murder, indignity to human remains
- In custody since Oct. 16
- Next court date is Oct. 24, 2011
- Roseanne Whalen
Fort Erie (has also lived in Niagara Falls)
- Mother of Marissa Whalen, friend/girlfriend to Rainbow E. Hill
- Charged with criminal negligence causing death, accessory after the fact to murder, indignity to human remains
- In custody since Oct. 14
- Next court date is Oct. 18, 2011
- Marissa Whalen
Two years old
Daughter of Roseanne Whalen
Presumed to have been killed
Source: St. Catharines Standard
CAS, which has taken many children from blameless parents, failed to heed warnings in the Whalen case. The details are in the Canada Court Watch report A child is dead: Why did the children’s aid society of Niagara (FACS) ignore the early warning signs? (pdf).
Pat Niagara A candlelight vigil was held for Marissa Whalen on October 17, 2011 at the Leisureplex in Fort Erie. It was very well attended with friends and strangers coming together to say hello to one of God's newest Angels. Many tears were shed along with moments of silence. Poems and messages were said and pink balloons released in Marissa's name. Thank you to all who attended..
A press report, with its own video, is below.
Marissa Whalen memorial
Marissa Whalen memorial
About a hundred Family and friends of Marissa Whalen held a candlelight memorial service monday at the Fort Erie Leisureplex to remember the two-year-old whose mother and two others have been charged in her death. The memorial was held at the Angel of Peace monument, which is a statue outside Fort Erie Leisureplex. The monument was installed two years ago as a place for parents who have lost a child to reflect.
Source: St. Catharines Standard
Addendum: Two years later, the facts of Marissa's death are published.
Two year old Marissa Whalen suffered a lifetime of abuse, court documents reveal
Two years after her death, we are hearing gruesome details on the short life of two year old Marissa Whalen.
A publication ban that ended Friday, is giving the public a glimpse of the horrific abuse the Fort Erie toddler suffered at the hands of a couple of women who were supposed to look out for her.
According to Sun Media, Marissa suffered repeated physical abuse, including having her face smashed into a wall before she was murdered on July 29, 2011.
Marissa was first reported missing on October 8th, 2011.
Court documents also reveal that Marissa was kicked in the stomach by her mother's romantic partner Rainbow Hill, two days before her second birthday.
After parts of the two year old's remains were found October 16th, 2011 buried on Six Nations property near Brantford, an autopsy revealed fractures to Marissa's forearms.
Medical examiners determined the injuries happened between ten days and three months before her death.
Evidence has revealed that the night Marissa was killed, the three of them hid the body from police and emergency personnel who showed up at their home, following a 9-1-1 call from Hill's stepfather Patrick McKay.
Hill told police her son was chocking on cereal.
That same night, Hill, Dipota, and Roseanne Whalen drove two and a half hours with the dead toddler in the trunk, looking for somewhere to bury Marissa.
In August, the three returned to the burial site, dug up the remains of Marissa in order to retrieve the plastic and blanket the little girl was wrapped in when buried.
According to court documents, they placed the materials in a gym bag and burned it so the evidence couldn't be used against them.
Thirty year old Rainbow Hill, has pleaded guilty to second degree murder, while her 30 year old sister Amanda Dipota from Niagara Falls, pleaded guilty to being an accessory to murder.
Marissa's 25 year old mother Roseanne Whalen is expected to appear in a Welland courtroom on July 15th, facing a charge of second degree murder.
A publication ban was put in place on June 28th to protect Roseanne Whalen's right to a fair trial.
Picture of Rainbow Hill below.
CAS on Strike
October 17, 2011 permalink
Kawartha-Haliburton CAS workers in Peterborough are on strike.
CAS workers on strike
About 120 employees hit the picket lines Monday morning after weekend of negotiations fail to come up with a deal
(PETERBOROUGH) Local Children's Aid Society workers are on the picket lines.
Workers went on strike at midnight Monday morning (Oct. 17).
OPSEU Local 334 president Jennifer Smith has said the core issues for workers were hours of work, workload and job security.
Local CAS executive director Hugh Nicholson has said there won't be any gaps in service. If it comes to a strike, he says the agency's 32 managers will step in and fulfill the mandated services. They obviously can't do all the work of the approximate 120 unionized employees, but he said any child in immediate need will be taken care of while less pressing needs will be put off to a less busy time.
Source: Metroland, MyKawartha.com
Tabbatha Parker So Peterborough CAS is on strike and I now have no visits with my daughter becuz of this strike.... I'm not happy it's court ordered that I have these visits and I'm not getting them.
And a few days later:
Tabbatha Parker So I can't believe that it took CAS to go on strike for my daughter to come home!!!!! She comes home on Friday! Thanks everyone who thought I could do it! Cuz i did it!
Addendum: Here they are on the picket line. Silly quote of the day: "It is not about money." Truth is the entire operation of CAS is about money.
CAS workers on picket line
About 30 striking Kawartha-Haliburton Children's Aid Society workers blocked the entrances to the agency's Chemong Rd. building while chanting R-E-S-P-E-C-T Monday afternoon.
It marked the first day of the strike that, according to the workers, concerns a laundry list of issues including work hours, caseloads, job security and equal pay among equally qualified workers. Workers walked out after talks broke down over the weekend.
"It is not about money," explained Jennifer Smith, president of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union Local 334 that represents about 130 frontline and administrative staff.
"We feel this is a last resort. We just don't have any other way to resolve these issues.
Smith said employees are routinely asked to work long hours, well into the night, and still expected to show up at work the next day on little or no sleep.
"The expectation is we now have to work 24/7," Smith said. "We are not opposed to overtime. That is part of our job, but we find it unreasonable ... to sleep for three or four hours and get up the next day for work."
Workers are dealing with too many cases and say their caseloads are affecting the quality of their service.
"The kids we serve deserve better," she said. "When your caseload numbers are high, you are unable to deliver."
The workers are also demanding a promise of no new layoffs in the upcoming collective bargaining agreement and are asking for equal pay for employees working in the after-hours department to match the salaries of daytime staff.
Smith said the union is waiting for management to resume talks.
"We are open to resuming talks at any time. We are waiting to hear from them," she said.
Smith warned there would be serious disruptions to service despite management's assurances otherwise.
"If 130 of us are not able to manage the job, I'm not sure how 20 (managers) are going to handle it," she said.
Executive director Hugh Nicholson said the agency has organized its non-union staff into teams and work is being triaged to address highest priority first. Nicholson said the top priority remains helping children at risk of abuse.
One immediate change in service is that all work is being done out of the Peterborough office, the agency's Lindsay and Haliburton offices are closed, he said, although staff is still performing investigations in Lindsay and Haliburton.
"Investigations of abuse we're responding no different," Nicholson said. "It's our highest priority."
The Peterborough office is closed to walk-ins and operates from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., with 24-hour service, as usual, for after-hours incidents.
Maintaining the focus on abuse investigations is why other non-essential services have had to be reduced, he added.
There are 32 people currently doing the work of striking union workers and management from other CAS offices may be called in to help if needed, he said.
"We're currently taking a look at how things are going, assessing what kind of help we do need and if we need it where," Nicholson said, though he wouldn't say which agencies have offered help.
He acknowledged that they're working with a reduced staff and it's his hope the unionized workers will return to work soon.
"I know they would like to see that also. They know our families, have relationships with them and are working on issues with them."
If the two parties can get back to negotiating face to face, he thinks an agreement can be reached on the key issues such as workload and job security.
No new negotiations have been scheduled, Nicholson said.
"I can't say how important it is for all of us and all of our families that we get back to normal operations and I'm committed to making that happen."
Source: Peterborough Examiner
Addendum: Picket line picture from October 19. How healthy are foster homes?
October 17, 2011 permalink
An investigative report by the Oklahoman confirms what fixcas has been saying for years: official reports on the level of child abuse in foster care are fake. In the Oklahoma case the reporters found abuse in foster care was eight times higher than the official figures.
DHS misrepresents number of children abused and neglected in state custody
Oklahoma Department of Human Services officials have greatly misrepresented to the public and its governing commission the full extent of abuse and neglect of children in out-of-home state custody, documents reveal.
DHS officials greatly misrepresented to the public and their governing commission the number of children abused and neglected in out-of-home state custody, documents reveal.
Last December, the Oklahoma Department of Human Services issued a news release stating “99.8 percent of children in out-of-home care did not experience maltreatment while in care” during 2009.
The agency proclaimed Oklahoma was one of 24 states that met a national standard of having at least 99.68 percent of children in custody not experience confirmed abuse or neglect in out-of-home care.
The claims were false.
DHS actually ranked among the worst states in the nation, as it has for several years, The Oklahoman has confirmed. Preliminary data for 2010 indicates the state once again will fail to meet the national standard.
“It's an honest mistake,” said Sheree Powell, DHS spokeswoman. “It's not anything intentional. We were not intentionally trying to hide this.”
The agency inadvertently failed to report to the federal government some federal fiscal year 2009 cases of abuse and neglect in foster homes that took awhile to review, according to Deborah Smith, DHS director of children and family services. She blamed a computer search error for the mistake.
“I can tell you the people who discovered the data were just very disappointed that ... we had reported data that was inaccurate,” Smith said. “Very embarrassed. It really bothered them.”
The agency also deliberately did not report to the federal government instances where children were abused and neglected in state shelters or group homes.
DHS officials say they don't have to include those figures. The federal government says it should.
DHS admitted in filings for a lawsuit that 154 children were abused or neglected in state shelters and group homes in calendar year 2009.
Had the agency included that data, the state would have had to report that about 1.58 percent of children where abused or neglected while in state care, according to the attorneys for a child advocacy group that is suing the state.
That's nearly five times the acceptable national standard and the third worst rate in the nation behind only New York and Mississippi, according to data contained in a federal government report known as the Child Maltreatment 2009 report.
Powell and Smith defended the agency's decision not to report the number of children maltreated in state shelters and group homes.
In Oklahoma, complaints of abuse and neglect in state facilities are investigated by the DHS Office of Client Advocacy Investigations Unit, while allegations of abuse or neglect in foster homes are investigated by DHS child protective services workers, they said.
The federal government only requires the agency to report abuse and neglect confirmed by child protective services workers, they said.
The omission is mentioned in a brief disclosure statement contained within a thick report filed with federal officials, Smith said.
However, the Child Maltreatment 2009 report indicates children maltreated in state facilities should be included in state statistics.
It states: “The Children's Bureau established a national standard for the absence of maltreatment in foster care at 99.68 percent, defined as: ‘Of all children in foster care during the reporting period, what percent were not victims of a substantiated or indicated maltreatment by foster parents or facility staff members?'”
Kenneth Wolfe, deputy director of the office of public affairs for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families, said Oklahoma is one of 14 states that exclude data concerning children abused and neglected in state institutions. The exclusions make those states look better in comparison to other states than they would if the figures were included, he said.
Powell said DHS Director Howard Hendrick was busy and unavailable to be interviewed. She confirmed that Hendrick and other DHS administrators review news releases before they are sent out.
Records show Smith presented the incorrect data that indicated Oklahoma had done better than the federal standard to DHS' governing commission on Sept. 29, 2010.
There is no record of staff members ever going back and telling the commission the information was incorrect, although administrators have known it for months, Powell acknowledged.
Children's Rights, a New York-based child advocacy group, is suing DHS officials in Tulsa federal court.
The group contends foster care practices in the state are so poor that children are being harmed.
Attorneys for that group have accused Hendrick and other DHS staff members of not providing the commission with information concerning areas where the agency has performed poorly.
Powell, however, contends Children's Rights has been twisting information to make DHS look bad.
“There are millions of dollars to be gained if they can succeed in a federal class-action lawsuit,” she said.
Powell said state-to-state comparisons are unreliable because different states have different standards.
For example, she said, Oklahoma policies require workers to visit foster homes more frequently than most other states.
“The more a state visits their children, the more likely abuse and/or neglect will be discovered and consequently, the worse it may look,” she said.
Different states also have different standards for confirming abuse and neglect, she said. Oklahoma is one of 10 states that use a credible evidence standard. Twenty-eight states use a preponderance of evidence standard. Other states use standards that range from “reasonable” to “clear and convincing evidence,” the Child Maltreatment 2009 report says.
The DHS statistics that show 154 children were found to have been abused or neglected in state shelters and group homes in 2009 compare to 87 who were found to have been maltreated in foster homes. Many would consider that shocking, since the number of Oklahoma children in foster homes greatly exceeds the number in state facilities.
Powell, however, said the reason for the discrepancy is the state uses much tougher standards for abuse and neglect in state institutions.
“A staff member missing a required 15-minute check” would be grounds for a finding of neglect in a state facility, she said.
Most of the findings of abuse and neglect in state facilities fall in the neglect category, she said.
Of the 154 confirmed findings of abuse and neglect in state facilities in 2009, six were categorized as abuse with injury, one as sexual abuse, 15 as confirmed abuse, 131 as neglect and one as neglect with injury, records show.
Smith noted the 154 cases of maltreatment in state facilities occurred during calendar year 2009, while statistics are reported to the federal government based on the federal fiscal year.
Source: NewsOK, The Oklahoman
Parade / Constitutional Challenge
October 16, 2011 permalink
Jane Scharf announces an empty stroller parade to take place in Ottawa on October 19. It will draw attention to a legal case, Sophie's Challenge, questioning the legality of the policing powers granted to children's aid societies.
F O R I M M E D I A T E R E L E A S E
PARADE OF EMPTY STROLLERS
awareness of CAS Charter Challenge
Date: Wednesday October 19, 2011
Time: 12:00 Noon – 3pm
Location: Parliament Hill (Near Eternal Flame) to proceed down Elgin to Police Stn.
Contacts: Jane Scharf (613) 884-9065, Sophie “X” (613) 859-6373, Catherine “X” (613) 618-6654 John Dunn (613) 709-3866
Interviews and Photo's Welcome
Approximately 40-60 child activists and advocates are expected from across the province to join Sophie “X” during her protest parade with empty-baby strollers in support of her court-filed Charter challenge which seeks to determine the constitutionality of certain sections of child-welfare legislation which affords Children’s Aid Societies (CAS) police powers.
If her Charter challenge is successful, it could change child-protection legislation across the country, in addition to the policies and practices of police and the legal community.
The participants will gather near the “Eternal Flame” in front of Parliament Hill at noon -- with empty baby-strollers -- before setting off down Elgin Street, past the Family Court, and down to their final destination, the Elgin Street Police Station where protesters will express their demand for properly trained police to conduct criminal investigations when child abuse or neglect is alleged against them as opposed to unregistered and unqualified CAS staff conducting such investigations.
Elgin St. will be closed for 1⁄2 hour while the group is in transit.
Sophie X’s challenge basically says that the province has given the CAS policing powers but under the Constitution the province does not have the authority to pass these laws. The exclusive jurisdiction for policing laws lies with the Federal Government under section 91(27) of the Constitution of Canada. In common terms the Criminal Code of Canada (CCC). Therefore, these unconstitutional laws that give CAS power to police need to be struck down.
Sophie’s notice of Constitutional Question: http://www.archive.org/details/SophiesChallenge
All the necessary laws to protect children are in the CCC at the link below: http://www.archive.org/details/CriminalCodeLawsProtectingChildren&reCache=1
The group wants policing done by police who are trained to do the job and have no vested interest in apprehending children except where there is real danger.
Jane Scharf, Canadian Council on Child Protection says, “There is a huge conflict of interest happening here because the CAS are the ones who get funding when a child is apprehended by them so they have a financial incentive to make apprehensions and they operate with impunity because there is no oversight of their actions. They get $240 per day per child and more if the child has or is labelled with disabilities. In addition, they get $20,000 when they place the child for adoption"
Sophie “X” wants the public to know, "I will never give up on my kids. CAS took them from me in the hospital and I did not harm or neglect my children or any other children. And I had a very unfair trial. They took my babies for no reasons. They did a risk assessment on me and made predictions that I will hurt or neglect my child simply because I am young, poor, and was in children’s aid myself when I was young. This is not fair and my challenge says this is not even legal.”
Catherine X wants the public to know, "My child was apprehended by the CAS after receiving false allegations of child abuse. The CAS worker told me I had to be investigated by police before my child can be returned to me. I met with a specialized detective from the child abuse unit who after conducting a thorough investigation of all the facts stated that he strongly believed that I did not harm my child and concluded the investigation without laying charges. After that I asked the CAS worker when my child would be returned to me and her answer was, "We don't consider what the police think as we (CAS) conducted our own 'parallel investigation' and we believe you did harm your child." This CAS worker was not trained in social work, was not certified by the College of Social Work and is not trained to conduct criminal investigations. Yet on the basis of her investigation my child was kept from me for one and half years. She is now a very troubled teenager. This apprehension of my child devastated her and myself as well." (foster care outcomes: http://www.archive.org/details/CasOutcomes)
John Dunn, former foster child, director of the Foster Care Council of Canada says, “Just imagine how out-of-control CAS are that these parents are publicly asking for allegations of child abuse or neglect against them and others to be dealt with under the Criminal Code instead of under the current child protection legislation. Having child abuse and neglect investigations done properly by trained investigators (police) under the existing Criminal Code provisions would protect all parties' Charter protected rights throughout the court proceedings, including the rights of the children involved. I'm aware of Children’s Aid Societies in Ontario and similar agencies across the country defying child protection court orders for access to families for children in care. The Ottawa CAS instructed the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) to defy a court order which would have allowed Sophie to have access to her newborn baby at the hospital. Children are being taken from their families and put in foster homes, group homes, or adopted out when they were never abused or neglected by their parents in the first place. Charter violations like these happen on a regular basis. This Charter challenge if successful, could protect children's rights to their families where appropriate.” ( http://www.afterfostercare.ca )
Note: The reason for using “X” to replace certain last names is due to current child welfare legislation which prevents publication of information which has the effect of identifying a foster child, their parents, or foster parents under threat of prosecution by a CAS. (ss. 45 (8) Child and Family Services Act and ss. 85 (3).
Source: Jane Scharf
October 16, 2011 permalink
Two-year-old Marissa Whalen is missing, feared dead by police. The facts have been published and Canada Court Watch has announced a search party to help locate the girl. Why doesn't this happen when a baby dies in CAS custody? Those cases remain secret. In a news article on Marissa, a friend of her mother applied unsuccessfully for an order preventing publication of her name. CAS has such an order in all cases, built right in to the Child and Family Services Act.
The CCW poster and news article are enclosed.
Fort Erie woman charged with murder in disappearance of Fort Erie girl
Child's body has not been found, police say
NIAGARA - A Fort Erie woman has been charged with second-degree murder in the death of a two-year-old child whose remains haven't yet been located, Niagara Regional Police said Friday.
Rainbow E. Hill, 28, of Fort Erie was arrested Thursday and charged with second-degree murder.
Hill appeared briefly in bail court in St. Catharines Friday afternoon and requested through a lawyer that the court impose a ban on the publication of her name.
The justice of the peace said she had no authority to make such an order.
Hill was remanded in custody until the charges are dealt with. With murder cases, it is up to the accused to request a bail hearing in a higher court.
Her next appearance is on Nov. 1 to update court about whether she's retained a lawyer.
Investigators began looking into the disappearance of the toddler who is identified in court documents as two-year-old Marissa Whalen. Police said the accused and the victim knew each other, but aren't disclosing their relationship.
In court, a justice of the peace ordered Hill not to have any contact with Rosanna Whalen, Cynthia Whalen or Brian Smith.
The incident occurred between July 29 and Aug. 8 in Fort Erie, according to information filed in court in St. Catharines.
A police press release issued Friday did not identify the victim.
Police began their investigtaion Oct. 8, but didn't release details of the investigation to the public until Friday.
Foul play was suspected in the child's disappearance and the NRP's major crime unit immediately launched a homicide investigation, police said.
"Based on the information received by investigators and the highly sensitive nature of the ongoing investigation, information on this investigation could not be publicly released until this time," Staff Sgt. James Prinsen said in a news release. "Any prior release of information would have significantly hampered our ability to conduct a complete investigation."
Police haven't yet said why they believe the missing toddler is dead.
"At this time the remains of the deceased have not been located, we will continue to work diligently to accomplish this recovery," Prinsen said.
Police are asking anyone with information about the incident to call investigators at 905-688-4111, ext. 4251, or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222- 8477. Anonymous tips can also be made online at www.niagaratips.com or by texting 274637 (CRIMES) with the keyword 'Niagara' followed by your tip.
Source: Thorold News
The police found the body even before the CCW search was complete.
Arrest Made in the Homicide Investigation of a 2-year-old Child - Update 3
Update #3 - Remains Discovered, 3rd Arrest
On Sunday October 16th, 2011 at approximately 2:00 p.m. the remains of a young child were discovered at a site within the Six Nations Territory. The discovery was made after a search of the area near 3rd Line, between Chiefswood Road and Seneca Road in Ohsweken, Ontario. The remains were located in a wooded area near a trail that runs through the area. This is the area where investigators have been concentrating their search efforts for the past several days.
The remains are believed to be that of 2-year-old Marissa Whalen, missing since late July 2011. A conclusive determination of the identity of the remains cannot be made at this time. Further forensic identification efforts will be made to conclusively determine the identity of the child.
The scene surrounding the discovery of the remains continues to be maintained by police pending the conclusion of a complete forensic examination. This examination is expected to take a number of days.
In addition to this recovery, a third person has been arrested in relation to this ongoing investigation. On Sunday October 16th, 2011 members of the Niagara Regional Police Service arrested and charged 30-year-old Amanda Dipota of Niagara Falls with Accessory After the Fact to Murder and Indignity to Human Remains. Amanda Dipota is the sister of Rainbow E. Hill, a female currently facing 2nd degree murder charges in this investigation. The accused is scheduled to attend a bail hearing in St.Catharines on Monday October 17th, 2011.
The Niagara Regional Police Service wishes to recognize the outstanding cooperation of the Six Nations Police Service in relation to this ongoing investigation.
Niagara Regional Police Service Superintendent Cliff Sexton, in charge of Investigative Support & Emergency Services will be available for media interviews in relation to this investigation on this date in St. Catharines. Any interested media agency is asked to contact Cst. Sal Basilone via email at firstname.lastname@example.org to make interview arrangements.
Information on crimes can be submitted anonymously using Crime Stoppers of Niagara.
To leave an anonymous tip, please contact Crime Stoppers via:
Telephone: 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS)
Text: 274637 (CRIMES), keyword 'Niagara', then your tip.
Crime Stoppers guarantees that you will remain anonymous through any of the methods offered to provide tips. You may also be eligible to receive a cash reward of up to $2,000 if the information leads to an arrest.
Incident Number: 93197
Prepared By: BASILONE, Salvatore
Rank & File No: Constable, 9004
Unit: Chiefs Office
Authorized By: BASILONE, Salvatore
Rank & File No: Constable, 9004
Unit: Chiefs Office
Date Submitted: 10/16/2011
Source: Niagara Regional Police Service
October 15, 2011 permalink
Articulate teenagers are denied the opportunity to tell a court of their wish to return to their families. This British article applies to many other jurisdictions as well.
The courts continue to deny rights to stolen children
Children are regularly denied their right to speak on their own behalf in court.
On the desk where I write is a child’s drawing showing the 11-year-old girl who drew it, imprisoned behind bars with two adults sitting in a room next door labelled “Guards”. Around the roof of the building are the words “Help me”, written 13 times, and in the sky above glowers a black, forbidding sun. This bright, articulate girl, who was taken from her home by social workers a few months ago on what seemed to be an absurdly flimsy pretext, would love to be allowed to come to court to explain to a judge why she wants nothing more than to escape from her prison and return to her loving family. But it seems there is no way she is to be granted her wish.
We hear much these days about human rights and how, for instance, criminals cannot be deported because this would be in breach of their right under the Human Rights Act to enjoy life with their family. We hear rather less about the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which Britain signed up to in 1989. Article 12 guarantees that a child shall be “provided the opportunity to be heard in any judicial or administrative proceedings affecting the child”. We hear little, too, of the landmark ruling of our Supreme Court last year, W (Children) UKSC 12, which explicitly reformulated the law on allowing children “to give live evidence in family proceedings” that affect the child’s future, reversing the previous presumption that it was only in exceptional cases that “a child should be so called”.
Among all the cases I have been following closely in recent months where children have, I believe, been wrongly removed by social workers and courts from loving, responsible parents, four stand out as particularly relevant in this respect. They all centre on children between the ages of 11 and 14 who are intelligent and articulate (I have spoken to two of them by telephone). All were previously happy living with their parents and doing well at school. All are now languishing miserably in foster care, where three have complained about being physically and emotionally maltreated.
In three cases (I don’t know about the fourth, because none of her family has seen her or been allowed to know anything about her for months), the child’s school work has markedly suffered. One bright 14-year-old boy has been placed, very unhappily, in a school for children who are backward or mentally handicapped.
All of these children are ideal candidates to be brought to court to express their wishes about their future. (One girl, I gather, has actually written to the judge stating that it is her “human right” to see him.) Yet none of the adults into whose power these children have been given – social workers, lawyers, guardians, judges – seem disposed to allow them to exercise what both international law and the highest court in the land have laid down is their right.
How has our system of family justice, supposedly dedicated, under the Children Act, to putting children’s interests above everything else, become so corrupted that it cannot allow them rights which, in almost any other context, judges would so happily uphold? (The judiciary prohibited, for instance, the deportation of a man who dragged along and killed a 12-year-old girl he had run over in his car – because of his “right to enjoy family life”.)
When can that girl who cries “Help me, help me”, while her guards look on stony-faced, be released from what she sees as her prison? Why are all these unhappy children, and doubtless many more, being so blatantly denied rights that the law of the land so mockingly claims to grant them?
Source: Telegraph (UK)
October 15, 2011 permalink
While Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty and prime minister Stephen Harper were addressing a crowd of a hundred invited guests, uninvited guest Chad Wells showed up with some questions for Mr McGuinty.
Chad Wells Today (Oct 14 2011) Janet and I attended the Peterborough airport after hearing Harper and McGuinty were there for a celebration. When I yelled out to McGuinty facts about CAS and asked why Ontario was the only province in Canada that has no oversight, McGuinty said nothing and then went inside the building. Why will McGuinty not answer one question from a member of the public when it comes to CAS? Coward!!!
If all of us are together as a team and keep doing this all over Ontario whenever these people step out in the public they will break. They hate us informing the public of their filthy secerts and what they do to Ontario's children. All of the people that just came there to see Harper and McGuinty were shocked beyond beleif when Janet and I told them of the real abuse these people are causing Ontario's children. Everyone took fliers and asked questions!!!
Source: Facebook, Canada Court Watch
The press report below ignored the non-invited guests.
Harper, McGuinty celebrate expanded airport
No announcements made
Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Premier Dalton McGuinty used the recently upgraded Peterborough Airport as a backdrop to celebrate the wrapping up of the Infrastructure Stimulus Fund and the continued focus on job creation.
"This project is a great example of the investments we've made to create jobs and growth in a time of global economic instability," Harper said of the $28.6-million upgrade of the airport with $14 million coming from the federal and provincial governments.
The prime minister and premier held the event in a hangar near the terminal building. About 100 invited guests attended the event, along with about 25 people from the media.
Peterborough's unemployment rate has been hovering at about 11%, well above the provincial average and the highest of the 33 census metropolitan areas in the country.
With the airport upgrades completed, the city awaits the creation of new jobs and investments from the improvements to the facility.
Flying Colours, the largest tenant at the airport, is planning to add a new hangar to refurbish larger aircraft. The expansion could double the company's local workforce.
Harper mentioned that more than a dozen international aerospace companies have shown interest in the airport.
Duncan Dee, Air Canada's chief operating officer, attended the event and toured the airport.
After the event, Dee told The Examiner that Air Canada is investigating the possibility of establishing passenger service out of Peterborough Airport.
"It's something that we're looking at. It's in a region that has a dynamic economic makeup," Dee said. "We're very impressed with what we saw. We need to conduct a more detailed analysis of the traffic in and out of Peterborough."
The airport could handle Air Canada passenger service; now it's a matter of whether the market could support the service, Dee explained.
"There's potentially some opportunities with the activities undertaken by companies such as GE and others," he said.
Harper arrived at the airport at about 10:15 a.m. on a government Challenger jet, which remained on the apron near the airport terminal throughout the event.
McGuinty commented that a certain element of anxiety pervades homes and lives with the global economic uncertainty, but assured people that Ontario faces the challenge from a position of strength.
"We've got the best schools in the English-speaking world. We have the shortest health care wait times in the country. We're the number one producer of cars in North America. We've got the fastest growing clean energy sector in North America. After California, we're the world's favourite place to invest in North America," he said.
The government will continue to focus on jobs and the economy, McGuinty said.
"We all want to see our communities in Ontario continue to grow and prosper," the premier said.
Harper and McGuinty each spoke for a little more than five minutes at a lectern in the door of the hangar, with small planes parked on the apron in the background.
The audience was filled with local politicians and business people. Mayor Daryl Bennett, Peterborough County Warden J. Murray Jones, representatives from the Greater Peterborough Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Peterborough Area Economic Development Corp., Flying Colours president John Gillespie, local lawyer Jeff Ayotte and former MP Peter Adams were among the invited guests.
The airport project is the largest tax-supported capital project in the city's history.
The 7,000-foot runway, with the 2,000-foot extension, is the longest civilian paved runway between Toronto and Ottawa. The improvements also included the strengthening of the runway to handle heavier aircraft, expanding aprons to handle more aircraft and the creation of industrial lots for aerospace companies at the airport.
Projects funded through the Infrastructure Stimulus Fund must be completed by the end of the month.
Gillespie commented the city needs to continue to pursue getting a commercial designation for the airport to allow commercial customs and immigration to help attract investment to the airport.
Flying Colours is in negotiations with the city for another site at the airport for a 45,000-square-foot facility to handle the larger Bombardier, Boeing and Airbus aircraft for its maintenance and refurbishing business, Gillespie said.
"We'll be adding jobs…. Within five years it will double our workforce to about 350," he said.
Bennett thanked the prime minister and the premier for attending the ceremony to mark the completion of the airport improvements and for the support of their governments.
"Our success as a nation can and should be measured not only on the big stages of the big cities, but in the hard won accomplishments of our smaller communities such as our own," the mayor said.
NOTE: This is believed to be the first time a sitting premier and prime minister were together at an event in Peterborough.
Source: Peterborough Examiner
Family of Dead Girl Named
October 14, 2011 permalink
Delonna Sullivan, the Alberta girl who died after six days in foster care, has been named in the press, along with her mother Jamie Sullivan. The publication came after Jamie applied to a court for the right to publish. Here is a video tribute to Delonna, YouTube and local copy (mp4), the CBC report is below. Previous stories:  .
Alberta judge allows ID of baby who died in care
An Alberta Court of Queen's Bench judge has lifted a publication ban on the identity of a four-month-old baby girl who died in government care six days after she was seized from her mother.
"The publication of Delonna Sullivan's name Pursuant to Section 126.2(2)(ii) of the Child Youth & Family Enhancement Act, is hereby granted," Justice M.D. Gates states in an order granted Thursday in Edmonton.
In his ruling, the judge said naming the little girl is "a matter of public interest."
"The community and citizens of Edmonton and Alberta have substantial interest in the welfare of all children in this province," he said.
The order was sought by Delonna's mother, Jamie Sullivan. Sullivan first went public with the story of her daughter's death in June, but Alberta's notoriously restrictive Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act prohibited the media from identifying her or her daughter.
Government of Alberta lawyer Kate Bridget told the judge that the government "neither consents nor objects to the application."
Sullivan welcomed the opportunity to finally show the public her daughter's picture.
"She's my little angel. I mean I should be able to say her name and show her picture to anybody and to have somebody tell me that I can't, really made me angry," she said outside the courthouse.
"How can you tell me that I can't show her picture to people. People can't see that — how healthy she was, how happy she was. Why does that have to be hidden?"
Sullivan's baby was taken away on April 5, 2011, after two social workers and an RCMP officer went to her home in central Alberta. They had an order to apprehend the children of an unrelated person who lived in the home.
They ended up seizing Sullivan's baby and placing her in foster care, believing there was "disharmony in the home."
According to documents obtained by CBC News, social workers also believed Sullivan had an alcohol problem — an allegation she denies.
Delonna died on April 11, six days after being placed in foster care.
Sullivan is still seeking answers about what happened. The provincial government says Delonna's death is under investigation. Autopsy results are expected by the end of the month.
Sullivan's lawyer, Larry McConnell, called the ruling a landmark decision that can be used by mothers in similar circumstances.
Motherhood for Prisoners
October 13, 2011 permalink
A small program allows a few Canadian women prisoners to care for their own babies while serving time in prison. The article is mostly positive about the results. Now that the government has discovered the benefits of preserving the mother-child bond in prison, how about extending the same policy to mothers who have committed no crime?
A baby’s home behind the barbed wire
Women inmates are allowed to keep babies in jail for four years
Baby Tiakohl cries inside the only home she has ever known.
It’s a low-rise cottage with a playground out front, surrounded by lush green grass and a barbed-wire fence. Her compact room is outfitted with a crib, a change table and a rocking chair, as well the soft jungle toy she likes to jingle with her tiny hands.
According to her mother Amanda Edgar, she is babysat and doted upon, a carefully-watched source of curiosity and awe. The newborn, who wears Winnie the Pooh T-shirts and strawberry outfits, is the only child around.
Edgar is in prison.
And so is her baby.
The 27-year-old convicted thief is one of the few federal inmates in Canada now participating in the mother-child program. It’s a little-known but controversial initiative that allows criminals to raise their babies in jail.
Each day, Edgar wakes up beside three-month-old Tiakohl, bathes and feeds her, and hands her over to a fellow inmate who babysits her daughter while Edgar attends prison classes such as Grade 11 accounting.
“Everyone loves the baby. And everyone’s very protective of the baby and wants the baby to be safe,” Edgar says from the Fraser Valley Institution for Women in Abbotsford, B.C.
“It’s a great program.”
Edgar and her baby embody the polarizing issue unique to women’s incarceration: should convicted criminals be allowed to keep their children behind barbed wire?
Supporters say the program helps to preserve the maternal bond between mother and child, and it’s better for the baby to be with the mother than in a bureaucratic child-welfare system.
They also contend babies help mothers and other inmates rehabilitate in prison.
“Just having the children around, women would describe as changing the whole environment,” says Kim Pate, executive director for the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies.
So strong is the conviction that mothers have an inherent right to parent, that a former inmate at a B.C. jail is taking the provincial government and a warden to court for cancelling that province’s mother-baby program in 2008.
The case is scheduled for trial in B.C. Supreme Court next spring, and could have ramifications for the federal system if it finds mothers have a constitutional right to raise their kids in jail.
“That baby needs to be breastfed, that baby needs to bond,” says Alison Grainger-Brown, a recreational therapist at Fraser Valley who also worked in the B.C. jail system.
Detractors, including those who work in federal prisons, tell a different story.
They say children are not safe in a prison environment, where drugs proliferate and violence is on the rise.
Victims of crime also question why women are entitled to be with their children after committing offences, since a loss of rights is fundamental to the concept of incarceration.
“You’ve given up that right, because you have proven yourself incapable of it and a danger to society,” says Natasha Cartledge, 23, whose father Anthony was killed in 2006.
Anthony’s killer, Lisa Whitford, was allowed to bring her baby into a B.C. prison the following year.
The future of the mother-child program is unclear.
It now appears to be virtually non-existent, plunged into uncertainty by a string of changes in 2008 and squeezed by the continued growth in the federal female prison population.
The program remains part of the mandate of women’s corrections, which sets out that female offenders have different needs than men. A seminal document from 1990, which still guides the female prison system today, identified a huge concern over separating women from their children.
“I wish we could use the program more,” says Kelley Blanchette, director general of the women’s offender sector at Correctional Service of Canada.
“We’ve never had an incident in any of our institutions with the child. I think it’s helped to preserve the mother-child bond and I see that as really important.”
Yet, participation has dwindled from 12 women in 2001 to only one last year, according to prison documents obtained under Access to Information laws.
Sometimes, there are none.
As of Aug. 31, 2011, there were three women enrolled.
The concept first began as a pilot project at the new aboriginal women’s prison — Okimaw Ohci Healing Lodge — near Maple Creek, Sask., in 1996.
But internal documents show the alternative prison had no participants from March 2005 to September 2010.
In fact, the prison service notes the accuracy of such numbers is difficult to verify “as these are tracked manually.”
Blanchette says the program is “alive and well,” but acknowledges few women participate.
She suggests space in prisons is an issue. This comes as the number of federally sentenced women has surged by 40 per cent in the past decade, and is expected to rise as new federal legislation mandates longer sentences.
It’s estimated almost 350 of the 500 federal inmates are mothers, many single parents.
The program operates full- and part-time for both pregnant inmates who give birth while behind bars, as well as mothers whose children visit them on weekends, holidays or school vacations.
Children who live with their mothers in prison can stay until they are four years old, while those in the part-time program can visit until they’re six.
Even before the program was revamped in 2008, there were problems.
In 2001, at the Saskatchewan healing lodge, inmate Renee Acoby — who has since been declared a dangerous offender for five hostage-takings inside prison — had her daughter taken away after refusing a drug test. Acoby later admitted to smoking marijuana and taking Valium while serving time.
Upon learning authorities had removed her child, born inside prison, Acoby became distraught and took a guard hostage.
It wasn’t until 2008 that public outrage sparked substantial changes.
B.C. convicted killer Whitford was allowed to bring her infant daughter, Jordyn, into the federal Fraser Valley prison.
Jordyn was born in provincial custody in 2007 to Whitford, who killed boyfriend Anthony Cartledge with a shotgun inside their home near Prince George, B.C., the previous year.
She was found guilty of manslaughter and sentenced to four years.
Whitford, who had a long history of being abused and drug addiction, fought to bring her baby with her to Fraser Valley, the first such case at the institution.
She spent the whole time with the baby. She sent me pictures of Jordyn and her by the cottage with grass and, of course, high wire fences around,” recalls Whitford’s former lawyer, Bruce Kaun.
But the victim’s daughter from a previous relationship says Whitford should not have been allowed to raise her baby in prison.
“This is a woman, that regardless of the circumstances of her past and how hard her life was, she killed mine and my sister’s father with a gun,” says Cartledge.
“My biggest concern and sadness was they were focusing so much on teaching her how to be a mother, that I was worried that she wasn’t focusing on just being a functioning human being.”
The recently released Whitford breached her parole. In June, a Canada-wide warrant was issued for her arrest.
In 2008, Whitford’s case set off a chain of events that led then-public safety minister Stockwell Day to review the program.
That June, Day unveiled significant changes, including the exclusion of women serving time for violent crimes — which includes more than half the female inmate population — from raising their babies in prison.
“I remember at the time, the case very well. But not being in government now I don’t reflect on what should or shouldn’t be happening,” Day says today.
“There are the competing interests of the restoration of an offender to be fully reintegrated into society, and when it comes to kids, there’s always the question of the best interest of the child . . . .
“Those are my feelings, and I believe that those are still the overriding principles and that they should be.”
The changes also lowered the age for children to participate part-time from 12 to six, required an offender be approved by local child and family services, and threatened to terminate a woman’s participation if she refused to allow her kids to be searched for drugs or contraband.
The program review, also obtained by Access to Information laws, noted there were few evaluations of similar international mother-child programs.
“No study has found any significant negative effects of such programs on either mother or child, and the majority of the studies appear to reflect positive results,” it stated.
Mothers are expected to pay for the needs of their own children in prison, and it’s not available to women serving time in maximum security.
The prison service document noted the program was relatively cheap, costing only $292,000 annually for six prisons to “address the myriad of issues faced by incarcerated mothers and their children.”
Since the changes were made, participation in the program has dropped by 60 per cent, estimates prison ombudsman Howard Sapers.
“If we want to enhance the chances of releasing a more responsible person capable of sustaining herself and her dependents in a crime and substance-free lifestyle, then surely it is time to have another look at the eligibility criteria that unnecessarily restrict participation in the mother-child program,” he writes in his 2010 report as correctional investigator.
On the flip side, the program can lead to fewer children being part of the welfare system, where costs average $40,000 per child each year.
At the Elizabeth Fry Society, Pate insists the program helps to break the cycle of incarceration which can happen when mothers are sent away, and keeps children off welfare.
“It’s premised on not so much the needs of the women, but the needs of the children.”
Proponents also include former B.C. jail warden Brenda Tole, who ran the provincial Alouette Correctional Centre for Women in Maple Ridge where Whitford also raised her baby while awaiting her murder trial.
Tole started the mother-child program in 2004, in partnership with the B.C. Women’s Hospital & Health Centre.
“The babies of the women did much better if they were with mom than they did if they were taken away from mom,” says Tole. “They were able to be nursed, they were able to bond with their mom in those first very early, very very important times.”
But some say it is not worth the risk.
The union representing Canada’s guards says babies end up complicating the job of correctional officers, making prisons unsafe.
Guards also sounded the alarm in 2008 that children were being used to smuggle drugs into the institutions.
“We don’t believe prison is a place for children,” says Kevin Grabowsky, Prairie regional president at the Union of Canadian Correctional Officers. “There’s a lot of inmates that abuse children in there and now (the babies are) exposed to them.”
Public Safety Minister Vic Toews sees no problem with the program, but he is more concerned with accommodating parent prison visits, as much as possible.
“I’m not passing judgment on any changes that were made on the mother and child program, maybe it isn’t appropriate,” he says.
“I did child welfare work for many years as a lawyer, and often, as bad as a mother can be, that mother is probably better than some of these children disappearing into the foster system.”
In Edgar’s case, she has seen both sides of that equation.
She was arrested in September 2010 for breaking into a family home in Abbotsford and stealing cash and jewelry to support her $1,000-a-month drug habit.
She’s serving her first federal sentence, but has been in provincial jails.
Edgar found out she was pregnant with her third child while awaiting her fate in Surrey remand.
“I cried really hard, because I knew that I was going to be in jail for a long time, and I felt pretty hopeless,” says Edgar in a high, girlish voice.
The former meth addict already lost custody of two daughters when she relapsed in 2005.
Now, she lives in a private room in a minimum-security cottage with four other inmates. One of them is Elena Banfield, a 30-year-old mother serving time for fraud.
“It is a joy to have a baby around,” says Banfield, whose three young children are living with her partner in Ontario while she serves her sentence out west.
“I miss my kids, but at the same time it’s nice to be able to give Amanda some guidance and some knowledgeable experience on what we’ve gone through as mothers ourselves.”
Edgar says no outside visitors are allowed in her baby’s room and insists the prison is a safe place for her child.
“There really isn’t very many fights here at all, and the drugs, they don’t come near me,” she says.
She expects to be eligible for parole later this month, and hopes to reunite with the baby’s father, who is living in Mission, B.C.
Edgar doesn’t want to think what would’ve happened if she had lost custody of her daughter after giving birth in prison.
“I can’t even imagine. I just know what happened . . . when I lost my last two children. I probably would have went berserk, honestly,” she says.
“I would have been as bad as I can be. It wouldn’t have been good. She’s my whole world.”
Source: Calgary Herald
Extend Foster Care
October 12, 2011 permalink
CAS wants to end the outflow of runaway children who go back to mom and dad at age 16. In the article below Barbara MacKinnon does her best to portray the increase in age limit to 18 as a benefit to children.
CAS wants Ontario age of intervention raised to 18
The Children's Aid Society wants the province of Ontario to expand its mandate to allow it to intervene in the lives of children over the age of 16.
Currently the CAS can only be involved with older teens if it was already involved with them before they turned 16.
The Society also has the power to intervene with children who are already under its care until they are 21 years old.
But the CAS says Ontario is one of the few provinces that doesn't carry the responsibility to care to the age of 18, and said that leads older teens to end up in shelters rather than finishing high school.
"We kind of stand out nationally as not supporting a group at a critical age," said Barbara MacKinnon, head of Ottawa's CAS.
"Education is a critical leveller for youth, and if they're a part of our system we'll have an opportunity to support them beyond 18."
However, teens who talked to CBC News said they would rather be free to make their own choices without CAS interference.
"I think that's wrong because at 18 years old ... I moved out on my own when I was 14," said 18-year-old Ottawa resident Kelsey Tan.
"CAS didn't really get involved. I saw a worker once, and she just never came by and talked to me again."
The CAS is also seeking to move up the age where it can intervene for children under its care from 21 to 23 to allow it to help young adults attend university.
But, Tan said, she worries about what kind of authority that might give the CAS over her decisions into adulthood.
Micha Engel said helping former foster kids like him get a higher education is good. But, he said, the CAS is too tolerant of bad foster parents, and that he'd have concerns about what kind of measures would be put in place to make sure education funds go where they are intended.
"Put the cheque into your name, but co-sign it to school you're going to," said Engel.
"The parents don't see it, neither do you, they send it directly to that school." If the CAS provided that kind of assistance, he said, then it might be useful for teens in need of assistance.
October 12, 2011 permalink
In a blog entry dated October 6, 2011, Dave Flook reports:
First, I would like to mention that the Chatham-Kent CAS lawsuit has been resolved. I won't go into details but I will say that we came to an amicable resolve. This resolve means that I will now have much more time to devote to our regular NADADs activities :)
Source: NADADS blog
'Mind-Blowing' Sex Can Wipe Memory Clean
October 11, 2011 permalink
Want to expunge those bad memories left over by social workers? Science has discovered at least a temporary cure. Sex can trigger transient global amnesia, with people ages 50s and 60s most at risk.
A 54-year-old woman showed up in the emergency room at Georgetown University Hospital with her husband, unable to remember the past 24 hours. Her newer memories were hazy, too. One thing she did recall: Her amnesia had started right after having sex with her husband just an hour before.
While sex can be forgettable or mind-blowing, for some people, it can quite literally be both at the same time. The woman, whose case was reported in the September issue of The Journal of Emergency Medicine, was experiencing transient global amnesia, a rare condition in which memory suddenly, temporarily, disappears.
People with transient global amnesia suffer no side effects, and the memory problems usually reverse themselves in the span of a few hours. It's a rare condition, affecting only about 3 to 5 people per 100,000 each year. But what makes transient global amnesia so eerie is that researchers aren't sure what causes it, or why patients remain otherwise chatty and alert while missing large chunks of their memories. [Inside the Brain: A Journey Through Time]
"We don't know very much about the cause," said Sebastian Ameriso, a neurologist at the Institute for Neurological Research in Buenos Aires, who was not involved in the 54-year-old woman's case. "It causes a lot of alarm, but this is not a stroke or an event that causes damage to the brain. It's almost always very benign."
Sex can trigger transient global amnesia, as can other physically strenuous activities. People in their 50s and 60s are the most likely to experience an episode, but strangely, most people with transient global amnesia have it only once. In most cases, the amnesia is anterograde, meaning people have trouble forming new memories. Sometimes, people also experience transient retrograde amnesia, forgetting some portion of their previous memories. In the case of the 54-year-old woman at the Washington, D.C., hospital, the last day was a fog, and she had been forgetful and confused since having sex.
As with most patients, the woman's brain scans using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed tomography (CT) showed nothing unusual and no damage to the brain. By the time she left the emergency room, her symptoms were almost gone.
The closest thing to an explanation researchers have for this sex-triggered amnesia is that the problem may not begin in the brain, but in the neck. In a January 2010 study published in the journal Stroke, Ameriso and his colleagues conducted sonograms of the necks of 142 patients who'd experienced transient global amnesia within the last week. They found that 80 percent of the patients had what is called insufficiency of the valves in the jugular vein.
This vein, which runs down the side of the neck, carries spent blood from the brain back to the heart. Valves in the veins prevent blood from flowing backward toward the head, but if the valves don't close sufficiently, blood could seep back upward.
The best guess for what might be happening is that patients unwittingly trigger the transient global amnesia by raising the pressure inside their abdomens. This is called the "Valsalva maneuver," familiar as the "bearing down" people might do when lifting weights, defecating or even having sex. The increased pressure increases the resistance to blood flowing down the jugular veins, and insufficient valves may allow deoxygenated blood to push back up the neck. Oxygen-poor blood then "piles up" in the veins draining the brain, especially in central brain regions that are key to memory formation. The result could be transient amnesia.
What this explanation doesn't cover is why most people with transient global amnesia experience it only once, Ameriso told Livescience.
"This doesn't explain why this would happen only once while we do this Valsalva maneuver many times during the day," he said.
Whatever the cause, transient global amnesia can be upsetting. In one case reported in 1964, a man lost his memory the moment he orgasmed, causing him to exclaim, "Where am I? What's happened?" [10 Surprising Sex Statistics]
People with transient global amnesia usually rush to the hospital in great distress, Ameriso said — which is not a bad thing, given that sudden memory loss can also herald a stroke or other serious neurological problems.
For doctors and patients alike the most important thing is a quick diagnosis, Ameriso said. Otherwise, patients can languish in the hospital for days, waiting anxiously for test results.
"It's important to be able to diagnose this very quickly, looking for the insufficiency in the veins," Ameriso said. "If you can confirm that this is the case, you can save a lot of money."
Source: Live Science
October 11, 2011 permalink
Sylvia Jones, Progressive-Conservative MPP for Dufferin-Caledon, just reelected, was the PC Critic, Children and Youth Services in the late provincial parliament. The Orangeville Banner shows her posing proudly among several Dufferin CAS workers. Lets you know what kind of criticism to expect.
Fighting child abuse
Trish Keachie, executive director of Dufferin Child and Family Services (DCAFS), was paid a visit by county Warden Warren Maycock on Wednesday (Oct. 4) to proclaim October Child Abuse Protection Month.
Also attending the proclamation were Dufferin-Caledon MPP Sylvia Jones, Kim Evans, director of service for child protection at DCAFS, Jennifer Moore, manager of human resources and organizational development, Orangeville Police Chief Joseph Tomei and Deputy Chief Wayne Kalinski, as well as Shelburne police Sgt. Dave Kerr.
Source: Orangeville Banner
October 11, 2011 permalink
Anyone having any information about CAS worker Michael Downs who used to work with the Haldimand Norfolk CAS is requested to contact Canada Court Watch by private email. We have received information from other parents in his community which would appear to be worthy of an investigation in order to protect the public's interest.
Source: Facebook, Canada Court Watch
Email addresses are: [ vernonbeck1 at yahoo.ca ] and [ vernonbeck at cogeco.ca ].
October 11, 2011 permalink
A foster parent and blogger identifying herself as tikun olam reports on the usefulness of a foster child's law guardian.
Practice varies among jurisdictions, but many family courts appoint a person to protect the interest of a child involved in litigation. In most American courts they are known as guardian ad litem (GAL), in Ontario child advocates are supplied by the Office of the Children's Lawyer (OCL). No matter what the title, that person frequently acts as a lapdog for the child protection system, one more voice in the courtroom opposing the connection between parent and child.
This is the value of the law guardian for CD (China Doll) in the foster blogger's words: She seems to be entirely dependent on the case manager reports for information and simply echos the case manager's recommendations when in court as standard operating procedure. I am not sure I understand the point of having a law guardian if her role is to simply visit before court dates and echo case managers.
8 days until court. . .
CD's law guardian in going to visit in a few days to prepare for next week's court date. She asked how CD was doing, how her ears were since her surgery and if she is still in school. It is interesting and bothersome to me how infrequently the law guardian visits and receives information about the children on her case load. She seems to be entirely dependent on the case manager reports for information and simply echos the case manager's recommendations when in court as standard operating procedure. I am not sure I understand the point of having a law guardian if her role is to simply visit before court dates and echo case managers.
I told the law guardian all about CD's progress since she last saw her. I told her that her teachers are saying that she is getting "fiesty." CD is assertive and sometimes aggressive at school when another child wants her toy or she wants his. She sometimes hits or throws objects in anger. She is no longer the quiet, inhibited child at school that she was a year ago. The teachers assure me that this is not a child who will ever let anyone step on her.
I told her about CD's improvement in health since getting her ear tubes. While she still seems to catch anything and everything that goes around at least she has been free of pesky ear infections since her surgery.
I also told her about CD's behavior during visits from members of the System. She has been acting out during the visits because she likely knows more about what is going on during these visits than anyone gives her credit for. We were recently visited by her health coordinator and our family's resource worker (she is helping us renew our license). During both visits CD told the workers, "I don't want you." She told them, "I stay with my Mommy," or "don't take me away from my Mommy." Reassuring her that these people are our friends and they are visiting and won't take her is not enough for her. During both visits she hit me when I would not stop talking to them (or filling out their forms) or when I told her that she needed to wait for me to come with her someplace else. Both times I had to discipline her (using brief time outs and requiring and apology) in front of the workers.
CD is getting older now. She is tuned in to the conversations that are occurring about her and her future during these visits. Even though it has been months, she remembers that she doesn't like being taken from me to go to her visits and she somehow knows that these visitors are connected to that separation anxiety. As it is, CD has more difficulties than most of her peers with separation.
I am anxious about the upcoming court date. I am afraid that this process will continue to get dragged on for much longer than necessary. As CD gets older I can no longer say, "thankfully she is clueless" because she is becoming less clueless as time goes on and I want her to stay clueless. I want to protect her from any potential fears and worries. I only wish that I could.
Source: Foster Parenting Adventures blog
One Social Worker
October 10, 2011 permalink
North Carolina social worker Yvette Jadine Smithen has been arrested twice in one week: for resisting arrest at a party in her home and for driving drunk with a child in her car.
Gaston DSS worker accused of 2 crimes in 1 week
A Gaston County social worker has been arrested two times in one week.
Her first arrest involved a party at her house and the second alleges that she drove drunk with a child in her car.
Yvette Jadine Smithen, 42, was stopped by Shelby Police in the 2100 block of East Dixon Boulevard on Saturday. The officer determined Smithen had been drinking and charged her with DWI.
A 4-year-old boy was in the car when police took her into custody.
Smithen was released on an unsecured bond.
Saturday marked the second time in one week that the Child Protective Services caseworker found herself locked up.
On Oct. 2, Smithen was charged with resisting arrest in a Gaston County incident. According to the arrest report, Smithen interfered with police when they came to the scene of a party that afternoon. The party was at her home on Bent Branch Street.
Her boss, Keith Moon, said Smithen told him the incident happened during a party that she was throwing at her house.
Director of Gaston County DSS, Moon said the Gastonia woman has only been with the department for a month. She makes $41,211.
Employees are required to report arrests to their supervisors.
Smithen did so last week, and she sent Moon an email requesting a meeting Monday.
People are not guilty of a crime just because they are charged, so firing an employee over pending cases isn’t protocol, said Moon.
Smithen was not penalized at work for her resisting arrest charge. But if she did indeed drive while impaired with a child in the car, there may be consequences at work, said Moon.
“This is obviously a much more serious situation you’re talking about,” said Moon.
Moon said he would have to do some more investigating before he knew what action Smithen might face.
Case workers need to be credible, said Moon. They often find themselves sitting in the witness stand during trials. If Smithen can no longer serve as a credible witness, then she can no longer fulfill the duties of her job at DSS.
Smithen has one other prior arrest in Gaston County. She was charged with assault and battery in 2008. That charge was later dismissed.
Source: Gaston Gazette
Fired the next day.
Social worker fired after driving drunk with child in car, officials say
SHELBY - A Gaston County Department of Social Services case worker was fired Tuesday morning after being charged with driving drunk while a child was in her car, officials said.
Yvette Smithen was charged with Driving While Intoxicated in Cleveland County on Saturday, said Shelby Police Chief Jeff Ledford.
Chief Ledford also said a young child was in Smithen's car at the time of her arrest.
Smithen had been a child protective services case worker with Gaston County for only a month, and was still within her probationary period, said Keith Moon, director of Gaston County DSS.
"Even though it's only a charge and not a conviction, we can't take any chances with this kind of situation," Moon told WBTV on Tuesday.
Moon said Smithen's job involved transporting children from time to time.
Before starting with Gaston County DSS, Moon said, Smithen had spent several years working for Mecklenburg County DSS.
Gaston County DSS conducts a thorough background check of job candidates before hiring anyone, and there were no issues with Smithen, Moon added.
Addendum: Gastonia is on a roll! Another social worker, Amanda Elizabeth Carrigan, was fired after drunk driving a few weeks later.
Gaston DSS worker fired while facing DWI charge
The Gaston County Department of Social Services has fired one of its child-support agents a week after she was cited for drunken driving.
Amanda Elizabeth Carrigan, 34, of 445 Wilson Farm Road, Gastonia, was charged with driving while impaired on Oct. 27 and terminated from her job on Nov. 4.
Police say she was driving on South Broad Street in Gastonia on Oct. 27 at 9:11 a.m. and blew 0.19 on a Breathalyzer, a device that determines the extent of alcohol impairment. The legal limit for North Carolina drivers is 0.08.
Carrigan had been employed with DSS since Aug. 11, 2008, according to Gaston County human resources director Pam Peacock.
Carrigan was involved in a wreck that led to the charge.
She was traveling on South Broad Street when her Toyota ran into the rear of a Chevrolet being driven by a Gastonia man.
The Chevrolet was headed northbound in the right lane and had stopped because of traffic.
Gastonia Police Officer Lex Popovich wrote on a citation that he smelled alcohol on Carrigan’s breath as she spoke. He also wrote that she was unstable on her feet and failed to do a one-leg stance.
Police say there was no one else traveling in the vehicle with her and they don’t know where she was headed.
She was released from police custody to a sober adult on a written promise to appear in court.
The day before the incident, Carrigan says she was prescribed Ambien, a drug used to treat insomnia. That is what caused the wreck, she said.
“It was medication that I had never taken before and caused me to black out and actually sleep drive,” she said. “I did not realize it was Ambien. It was generic form. It just had terrible side effects. Obviously it affects my life because I lost my job.”
Carrigan described the whole incident as a “travesty of justice.”
Getting her job back?
At the time Carrigan was fired, she earned $33,401.89 annually.
Her termination letter cannot be released to the public yet because she has indicated an intent to file an appeal of the firing, Peacock said.
Carrigan could appeal to the State Office of Personnel in Raleigh and eventually go before an administrative law judge to decide if her job will be reinstated.
On a petition for appeal, Carrigan claims she was discharged from her job without just cause.
“The alleged off-duty conduct for which I was discharged has no relevance to the job I performed and was in no way related to my position with the county,” Carrigan wrote in an attachment to the appeal. “There is absolutely no substantial relationship between the circumstances of the alleged off-duty misconduct and the circumstances of the position.”
Carrigan has the right to appeal the decision of her firing because she’s been employed with DSS for more than two years, Peacock said.
“We have been notified for her intent to do that,” Peacock said. “She is appealing to have our decision to terminate her overturned. And if they do that, of course we will abide by that.”
Keith Moon, director of Gaston County DSS, says he won’t comment on Carrigan’s firing at this time, since her letter of termination is being withheld.
He said child support agents function somewhat like paralegals in helping custodial parents obtain child-support payments.
“(The job) might involve the establishment of paternity or the establishment of a child-support order,” Moon said. “They assist people in getting child support from non-custodial parents. In most cases, people are paying child support routinely.”
Source: Gaston Gazette
Win a Baby!
October 10, 2011 permalink
Ottawa radio station hot 89.9 is giving away a baby. The lucky couple, selected from among five couples who have had difficulty conceiving, will receive three free fertility treatments. No provision for the four losers. Maybe they will have to wait to adopt a baby conceived by another couple.
Win a Baby! VOTING
Vote Now for the Top 5 Win A Baby Finalists!
Out of respect for our Top 5 Finalists we have decided not to publically identify them. For that reason we are referring to them as Couple A through E.
Voting will conclude at 11:59pm on Sunday, October 9th. The Win A Baby winning couple will be announced at 7:15am on Tuesday, October 11th, 2011 during The Morning Hot Tub with Mauler, Rush, Jenni and Josie.
Here's a little bit about the Top 5 Win A Baby finalists:
- COUPLE A
“Couple A” have been married for 5 years. In describing their relationship they say they couldn’t imagine a moment in this world, or any other, without each other. It hasn’t been an easy year for this couple, they’ve suffered through a car accident, a lay-off and of course their ongoing fertility struggles. They have been trying relentlessly to conceive. In their words, “Well they say practice makes perfect… We disagree because if “practice” made “perfect” we would have many a baby.” “Couple A” have been told that their best and probably only chance of conceiving would be through IVF. They have already been advised that including the drugs the total procedure would be about $10,000. “Couple A” says, “We would try the procedure tomorrow if we had the money, but we don’t so we have to wait.” When they got engaged they immediately envisioned their family with children. From day one it’s what they wanted and they’re hoping this is it for them.
- COUPLE B
“Couple B” says before this contest they were feeling hopeless, like they had reached a dead end. After trying every method available to them to conceive they have been told that their only chance for success is IVF, but unfortunately they cannot afford the treatment. “Couple B” says they are most proud of the love they have for each other and their family. When asked why they want a baby “Couple B” says, “We don't know how to put in words, how much we want a baby. Every effort, every hope, every disappointment we have felt in the past 4.5 years has been because this dream of ours isn't coming true. I feel like I have lost part of my heart. We feel stuck in limbo, life is moving on without us while others live our dream. I feel tired because my energy goes into hoping that every month will be "it", but it never is. We feel as though the only light at the end of this dark tunnel would be if we could somehow afford the treatment to make our dream come true. That in itself would be a dream.”
- COUPLE C
“Couple C” love each other more than life and all struggles they’ve endured have only made them closer. The bottom line for “Couple C” is that they cannot afford fertility treatments. They are not a materialistic couple, they don’t care about “stuff” they just want a family, they want to watch their children grow and teach them the values of life. They live very healthy lifestyles in an attempt to increase their chances of conceiving. They quit smoking over two years ago, they eat healthy, they take vitamins, none of it is working for them. They’ve wanted this very badly for a long time, but it’s not happening naturally. They need assistance. The hopeful mother to be says she wants the opportunity to be as supportive a mother as her mom has been to her all her life.
- COUPLE D
“Couple D” have known each other since they were kids. They truly believe that their love is not the kind that comes along every day. They are best friends and fantastic partners. Due to a malformation of his reproductive organs at birth the male half of “Couple D” was told from the time he was young that he would not be able to have children. In March 2009, "Couple D's" doctor sent **** for a semen analysis at their request so that they could be certain that they had explored every possibility and could make an informed decision when discussing their options. On Easter weekend, they received a call with amazing news! Their doctor was ecstatic and very surprised to tell them that ***** produced 4 million sperms per ml and that in the sample he provided, there was 2.5 ml. They still remember the moment they heard those words! His whole life, he had been told that he would never be able to have biological children, and now, he could! It was a very emotional discovery for “Couple D”. Now they know they can have children, they just need a little help from the scientific advances in the medical field! “Couple D” say they were born to be parents and can hardly wait to hold their very own baby for the first time and start their journey as parents.
- COUPLE E
Despite the challenges they’ve faced, “Couple E” gives their relationship a 10 out of 10. They are best friends and have grown very quickly together over the past 4 years. In January of 2007 the male half of “Couple E” was in a car accident that broke his neck resulting in quadriplegia. As a quadriplegic *** the quality of his sperm has diminished over time. “Couple E” have already received fertility treatments, but had to suspend treatment before they were able to conceive due to financial restraints. “Couple E” describe themselves as an unstoppable couple that will never give up on their hopes and dreams. They have been through the worst and have flourished with love and support from their families and friends. They want nothing more now than to welcome a baby into their lives. They are ready to be amazing parents and share their love with a child.
- Couple A
- Couple B
- Couple C
- Couple D
- Couple E
[ vote buttons on original page ]
Rip Van Winkle Suit
October 9, 2011 permalink
Mother Rehab Amer was accused of killing a son who actually died of brittle bone disease. But Michigan seized three of her other children immediately and a fourth at birth. When a fifth baby was born, the parents fled to Canada for the birth and concealed the child's identity. Now eighteen years later, after the child has reached age of majority, they want to use the courts to get relief for their ordeal. But the state is claiming the eighteen-year delay leaves them immune.
Parents want OK to sue in custody case
Judge to say if state's removal of kids too dated for legal action
Detroit — A federal judge will decide whether a family whose children were taken by the former Michigan Department of Social Services 26 years ago waited too long to file a lawsuit against the state.
Rehab Amer was charged in 1985 with killing her 2-year-old son Samier after he fell in the bathtub of their Dearborn home, but it was later determined that the child's death was the result of brittle bone disease.
A jury acquitted Amer of negligent homicide, but state officials took her other three children from her home, claiming Amer and her husband, Ahmed, were unfit parents. A fourth child was taken a day after birth.
When Amer became pregnant with son Hussein in 1990, she moved to Canada for the May 1991 birth and pretended he was her nephew, fearing authorities would remove him from her home, too.
The Amers say they didn't want the state to also take custody of Hussein, so they waited until he turned 18 to file a lawsuit against the state, claiming social service workers removed their children because of prejudice against Muslims.
"Clearly they were afraid," said the family's attorney, Nabih Ayad. "The fled to another country to have Hussein, and told the world he was their nephew."
Ayad said the Amers waited to sue because they were afraid to go into court and lie about Hussein being their child. "They didn't want to commit perjury, but they also wanted to keep their child," he said.
Assistant Attorney General John Fedynsky said the fact that the Amers made their case public and fought it in probate court disproves their claim. "It's clear there was no fear," he said. "This family has been very public about fighting for their rights all along, and they weren't concerned (about committing perjury) when they went into probate court."
The statue of limitations for most of the suit's claims is three years, although federal Judge Paul Borman can apply equitable tolling— a legal principle allowing exceptions to a statute of limitations in certain instances — so the case can move forward.
"The court will take this under advisement and render a decision," Borman said. He gave no timetable.
Source: Detroit News
October 7, 2011 permalink
In yesterday's election the Liberals led by Dalton McGuinty got 53 seats, to the Progressive Conservatives' 37 and the New Democrats' 17.
The issue of most concern here is ombudsman oversight of CAS. In May a vote occured in the legislature with the NDP and PC in favor and the majority Liberals against. During the campaign the Liberal and NDP positions remained unchanged, but early on, when they were leading in the polls, the tories hedged on whether they would support oversight after elected to a majority. Now that the tories are still in opposition, there might be a repeat of the May vote with the PCs and NDP outvoting the Liberals on this issue. It could be interesting.
In individual races, Minister of Children and Youth Services Laurel Broten was reelected representing Etobicoke-Lakeshore. In Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry Liberal Mark MacDonald, who listed on his own promotion that he has volunteered for the Children's Aid Society, got only 21% of the vote in his loss to PC Jim McDonell. In Guelph CAS opponent, and Marxist, Julian Ichim got 100 votes out of 46,610 cast.
Worse than Rape
October 7, 2011 permalink
This case of mom vs dad to extremes appears here because of the reason the woman cited for keeping quiet about repeated rapes: she feared a police report would cause CAS to become involved with her daughter.
Alleged murderer was raped by victim, court hears
A woman accused of murdering her boyfriend was raped and forced to have sex as punishment for her wrongdoing, a jury heard Wednesday.
Melissa Lewis also divulged to psychiatrist Derek Pallandi that Ludlow Jermaine “Mecca” or “Mec” Gillespie would choke her with a gun nearby during their abuse-ridden relationship that ended when Lewis fatally stabbed him in the neck.
She believed that Gillespie, 25, was reaching for his gun while he was driving her, their then six-year-old daughter and her father in west end Toronto, court has heard.
Pallandi said Lewis told him she feared that Gillespie would shoot them all.
Lewis, 26, has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder in the May 29, 2010 incident.
“He demanded sex regularly and if she refused, he took it anyway,” Pallandi told the court. He interviewed her for six hours in April and May this year.
Lewis never reported the sexual violence to police, partly out of fear the Children’s Aid Society would become involved.
She told Pallandi that Gillespie struck their child, who tried to intervene while he was attacking her.
Lewis’ camcorder was used to capture Gillespie’s sexual exploits with other women, which Lewis saw, along with explicit text messages between him and his other partners, court heard.
In cross-examination, Crown attorney Louise Collins noted that Lewis in recounting the stabbing 11 months changed topics from the homicide itself to Gillespie’s insulting comments and his flagrant infidelity.
“She goes on for almost a page of your notes about his involvement with other women said Collins.
“That’s not irrational jealousy. That’s an unpleasant fact,” said Pallandi.
Lewis’ daughter testified earlier that her mom reached for a large butcher’s knife from her purse, not from under the driver’s seat as she told him, said Collins.
“Statements given by six or seven-year-olds, they are fraught with difficulties. I’m not suggesting she’s intentionally lying,” said Pallandi. “They do their level best but it’s an emotional situation.”
The trial resumes next Tuesday.
Source: Toronto Sun
October 7, 2011 permalink
One more snitch to look out for — the pizza delivery man. Colorado medical marijuana user Frederick Smith was reported to the police after a pizza man smelled pot in a home with a child.
Pizza delivery guy calls cops on medical marijuana patient
Aurora - A Colorado man who ordered pizza for his family after smoking medical marijuana got more than he bargained for when police arrived for a child welfare check after the delivery guy reported he was using the drug with children present in the home.
Frederick Smith of Aurora, Colorado spoke with 9News and said he feels he was harassed by the Papa John's employee who reported to police he smelled the strong odor of marijuana at the home when he made his pizza delivery.
Smith, who has a Colorado medical marijuana card due to chronic pain resulting from a bicycling accident, said he smoked a bowl of marijuana while his daughter was in the bathroom taking a bath, and then ordered the pizza pie online, pre-tipping the driver.
Shortly after the pizza was delivered, Smith told 9News, the Aurora Police Department pounded on his door. The police officers told him they were responding to a complaint by the pizza delivery guy. They did a routine check of the residence and questioned Smith, then left without filing any charges.
Smith said he was targeted by the pizza delivery guy for legally using marijuana. He complained to Papa John's who responded by saying, "Papa John's of Colorado wants to stand behind the decision that this delivery driver made. He was acting as a concerned citizen and for what he believes was the best interests of our community."
Smith said he has filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau and hopes to bring a case of slander against the driver and Papa John's. "I was definitely not smoking marijuana in front of my children, which is what he said he saw," Smith said.
Tish Muldoon, spokeswoman for Papa John's corporate office in Kentucky, told Denver Westworld: "Our drivers have the rights or obligations that any other private citizen would feel if they think they are witnessing a crime or a scene of the crime."
But Smith responded by saying no crime was being committed, he was a medical patient legally using marijuana in the privacy of his home.
Source: Digital Journal
Steve Jobs, R.I.P.
October 5, 2011 permalink
Steve Jobs was born to Syrian immigrant Abdul Fattah “John” Jandali and Joanne Carole Sciebele, later Joanne Simpson, in 1955. This was still the period in which shame attached to births out of wedlock. Though Joanne and Jandali were willing to marry, Joanne's father would not stand for a marriage to a Syrian so Joanne gave birth alone. In those days unmarried fathers had no say in the matter, and Joanne gave her baby up for adoption. The parents did marry later and had a daughter, Steve's biological sister Mona Simpson. Steve was adopted by Paul and Clara Jobs. Already a millionaire, at age 27 he was able to discover the identity of his bio parents but never make contact with his father. Jandali eventually learned the identity of his famous son but contact never went beyond an unanswered email — not wanting to appear as a gold-digger, he never phoned.
In 1976 Steve Jobs became the co-founder of Apple Computer. Its product line included the first mass-produced personal computer the Apple II and later the Macintosh. In one of the worst personnel decisions of all time, the Apple board fired Jobs in 1985. He went on to found NeXT and lead Pixar, producing the full-length animated movie Toy Story. After a decade without Jobs, Apple was approaching bankruptcy in 1996 when it acquired NeXT, putting Jobs back in Apple management. He was formally named president the next year. In his second tenure, Apple introduced more revolutionary products, the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad. The company also became a leading music distributor through the online iTunes store. At Steve Jobs' retirement on August 24, 2011, markets priced Apple as the world's most valuable corporation.
Fixcas has had a lot of stories of adoption failure. This one has to be called an adoption success. The portrait at the right is from his epitaph on the Apple home page.
October 5, 2011 permalink
When Detroit dad Sean Harrington was biking with his two-year-old twins he encountered a crowd of sports fans, and avoided them by going the wrong way down a one way street. That got him criminal charges of parental neglect.
Wrong-way Detroit biker: Ticket is ludicrous
Downtown Detroit resident and business owner Sean Harrington said he is still shocked that police ticketed him for biking the wrong way on a one-way street while pulling his 3-year-old twins in their bike trailer last month.
Now Harrington, 43, owner of Centaur bar, Town Pump Tavern and Iodent Lofts, is facing a charge of parental neglect over the ride.
"It's absolutely ludicrous," Harrington said Tuesday.
Harrington said he took his boys to play along the RiverWalk on Sept. 2 and was headed home at 5:55 p.m. when they came across Tigers fans wearing their gear on game night.
They were on Park Street, a few hundred feet from home in the Iodent Lofts.
"These guys were blocking the sidewalk ... so I pull out onto the street," Harrington said. "There's no cars, nobody coming against me -- there's just pedestrians walking around. And the cops wave me over and start hassling me."
Harrington's ticket for loitering/impeding pedestrian and/or vehicle traffic is a civil infraction with a $110 fine due by Oct. 17 or he faces a 20% penalty, according to 36th District Court.
He is to be arraigned Nov. 15 by 36th District Judge Vanesa Jones Bradley on the parental neglect charge.
Harrington said he thinks it is part of an ongoing pattern of harassment by the Detroit Police Department.
"I guess the guy must not have a lot on his plate if this is his big case and I'm his public enemy," Harrington said Tuesday.
Wayne County Assistant Prosecutor Maria Miller referred questions Tuesday to the city's Law Department, which did not have any information on the charge that afternoon.
Police did not respond to requests for comment Tuesday.
Source: Detroit Free Press
October 4, 2011 permalink
In a Manitoba case a judge has ruled that Prozac was responsible for the descent of a boy into violent behavior. The teenager with no previous history of crime or violence stabbed another boy to death while under influence of the drug. A news article and an opinion piece by one of the expert witnesses follow.
Manitoba judge says teen killer's exposure to Prozac factor in the death
WINNIPEG - A Manitoba judge says a Winnipeg teen was driven to fatally stab another teen due to the adverse effects of an anti-depressant drug.
Provincial court Judge Robert Heinrichs agreed to keep the case in youth court, where the male youth now faces a maximum sentence of just four more years behind bars on the charge of second-degree murder.
Heinrichs said Friday the use of Prozac resulted in "unique circumstances" which he was forced to consider.
He described how the youth, who was 16 at the time of the stabbing in 2009, went from a loving, happy-go-lucky kid to a dark, depressed drug abuser who began to act out violently and even tried to harm himself on several occasions.
Heinrichs said it’s clear the youth's parents did the right thing in bringing their concerns to his various doctors, but they were largely ignored and the drug's dosage was increased.
Since his arrest, the youth is now clean of all drugs, has expressed remorse for his actions and greatly reduced his risk to the public.
"His basic normalcy now further confirms he no longer poses a risk of violence to anyone and that his mental deterioration and resulting violence would not have taken place without exposure to Prozac," Heinrichs said in a written decision.
"He has none of the characteristics of a perpetrator of violence," said Heinrichs. "The prospects for rehabilitation are very good."
Court heard the boy had no prior criminal record and was prescribed Prozac three months prior to the deadly attack.
Psychiatrist Dr. Keith Hildahl testified earlier this year that some studies have linked Prozac with behavioural and emotional changes in young users.
Defence lawyer Greg Brodsky called an expert witness who has testified in numerous high-profile cases across North America in which killers were taking anti-depressant drugs.
Dr. Peter Breggin, a New York-based psychiatrist, told court the teen’s use of Prozac likely meant the teen wasn’t in full control of his actions.
The Crown wanted him raised to adult court, where he would have received a mandatory life sentence with no chance of parole for at least seven years.
Formal sentencing will take place on Oct. 4.
The family of the victim, 15-year-old Seth Ottenbreit, jeered when they heard the boy will be sentenced as a youth.
Seth died of a single stab wound to the stomach in September 2009 at the accused boy's home.
Dozens of family members and friends filled the courtroom Friday afternoon, shortly after they paraded in front of the Law Courts with signs and posters showing Seth's body in his casket.
Donna Noble, Seth's mother, called the accused a "cowardly murderer" and says she wanted to call attention to the relaxed attitudes to punishing young offenders.
"I wanted to stand up in court and yell, ‘How dare you let him be charged as a youth?’" Laura Martin, whose daughter went to school with Ottenbreit, said outside court.
Seth and a friend were at the accused's home and got into an argument with the accused’s younger brother. Seth shoved the boy, causing a chair to fall over and leave a mark on the new floor, court was told.
The accused wasn’t home at the time but got angry when he found out what happened. He then invited Seth and his friend to return to the home and when they did, he pulled out a knife from under a blanket and stabbed him once in the stomach while they all stood in the garage.
Source: Winnipeg Free Press
Dr. Peter Breggin reform psychiatrist
Judge Agrees Prozac Could Have Made Teen a Killer
The headline from the Winnipeg Free Press in Canada tells the story: "Judge Says Prozac Factor in Teen Murder." Provincial court judge Robert Heinrich listened to my testimony as a psychiatric expert on behalf of the defense and weighed it against that of a Canadian psychiatrist brought in by the prosecution.
After deliberating for several months, the judge rendered his opinion on September 16, 2011. He declared in his decision, "His basic normalcy now further confirms he no longer poses a risk of violence to anyone and that his mental deterioration and resulting violence would not have taken place without exposure to Prozac." Also consistent with my lengthy report and testimony, the judge observed, "He has none of the characteristics of a perpetrator of violence. The prospects for rehabilitation are good."
This appears to be the first criminal case in North America where a judge has specifically found that an antidepressant was the cause of a murder.
The case involved a 16-year-old high school student with no prior history of violence who, while chatting in his home with two friends, abruptly stabbed one of them to death with a single wound to the chest. He could give no explanation for his behavior. Earlier in the day, his two friends had stopped by his house in his absence and gotten into a mild altercation with the teen's younger brother in which no one was hurt. The teen then invited his friends over for a visit and while calmly sitting together, he committed the abrupt assault. Immediately afterward he called the police.
The teenager had been taking Prozac for three months, during which time his behavior deteriorated. He became impulsive and unpredictable and suicidal. He also began to talk at times as if fantasizing about violence. He seemed to become a different person to his distraught parents. I testified that his primary care physician and his parents alerted the prescribing psychiatric clinic to the teenager's deteriorating condition and raised questions about continuing Prozac. Despite these concerns, the clinic continued his Prozac and then doubled it on his last visit. Seventeen days after the increase in dosage, the teen committed the violence.
The Canadian drug regulatory agency, Health Canada, has warned that Prozac is not authorized for use in children and that it can cause "self-harm or harm to others." According to a warning issued in 2004 by the drug manufacturer, Eli Lilly and Health Canada: "There are clinical trial and post-marketing reports with SSRIs and other newer anti-depressants, in both pediatrics and adults, of severe agitation-type adverse events coupled with self-harm or harm to others. The agitation-type events include: akathisia, agitation, disinhibition, emotional lability, hostility, aggression, depersonalization. In some cases, the events occurred within several weeks of starting treatment."
I wrote in my report and testified that the boy's symptoms were consistent with a "Prozac (fluoxetine) Induced Mood Disorder" with manic features and that he would not have committed the violence if he had not been given the antidepressant. I also testified that he had improved dramatically when removed from the Prozac after a few months in jail and that he was no longer a danger to himself or others.
The original hearing was to determine whether or not the now 17-year-old should be sentenced as a minor, in which case his maximum jail time would be limited to four years. The prosecution wanted him tried as an adult. On September 16, 2011, Judge Heinrich decided that the boy would be tried as a minor and that his deterioration and violent behavior was caused by Prozac. On October 4, 2011 the judge will determine how much of the remaining four years the teenager will serve.
The judge's decision represents an enormous step forward in society recognizing that the newer antidepressants can cause violence.
Peter R. Breggin, MD is a psychiatrist in private practice in Ithaca, New York, and the author of dozens of scientific articles and more than twenty scientific and popular books. His two most recent books deal with medication induced violence: Brain-Disabling Treatments in Psychiatry, Second Edition , and Medication Madness: the Role of Psychiatric Drugs in Cases of Violence, Suicide and Crime . Dr. Breggin's home website is www.breggin.com where many of his scientific reports on antidepressants and other subjects can be retrieved. On April 13-15, 2012 in Syracuse, New York, the annual meeting of Dr. Breggin's international organization, The Center for the Study of Empathic Therapy, will present a panel of lawyers, experts, survivors and families concerning antidepressant-induced violence.
Source: Huffington Post
Corruption of the Blood
October 3, 2011 permalink
An archaic punishment for treason called corruption of the blood was applied not just to the traitor, but to all his descendents as well. Today Eileen Wedell-Petrie tells a story of this doctrine applied, not for treason, but for failure to lie on behalf of children's aid.
Eileen Wedell-Petrie This inefficiency of justice knows no borders is 100% correct!!! This story sounds all to familiar. Here in Canada in Welland Ontario to be precise, the same story only different happened to a very special person to me. She was the foster mother for a short time of my children who were maliciously abducted by the St. Catharines FACS, Welland’s neighbors. This foster mom without a doubt was in it for all the right reasons and had fostered somewhere around 40 children in her nine years of being a foster parent. I know she loved my children and I know my children loved her. Not as much as me of course, but just the same, she loved my children and I know they felt safe and at ease with this family. The whole family. She was this way with not only my children but it was the same with all that she fostered, I’m sure. She even has beautiful children who are now young adults and you couldn’t tell who were their biological and who were their foster/adopted children. I know, I see them, they call her mom,and dad. Sometimes mommy and daddy. They say I love you a lot. They go to her, they love her and she and her husband love them too just the same. Not only did she stand up for me and my children but she stood up for other’s. FACS even went so far and asked her to lie to the courts on their behalf to save their asses when my side came to light and they weren’t looking to good. She refused because that is not the type of person that she is. Anyway, after I was released from their death grip and my whole family reunited, her hell was about to begin. She was fired and blackballed from all the other CAS Agencies in Ontario or possibly all of Canada. Also all of the foster parents were told not to talk to her or have anything to do with her. They took the foster children that were living with her at the time,right out of their school, never even letting them say goodbye. These poor children were ripped from where they felt safe and happy, as happy as a foster child can be under these circumstances. One who was a young teen was so distraught he ran away from them and two young siblings were separated when they put them into different homes. They (FACS) would later go after this woman’s grown daughter when she took her child to the hospital because of a fall hitting her head. This mom had taken the baby two times to her own pediatrician before visiting the hospital when there was an outward appearance that concerned them. The thing is that the doctor who saw the child and did the x-ray went and did further x-rays of the child’s body without consulting the mother or further questioning the mother. He later said, “it was because there were two breaks in the original x-ray. So he instantly suspected child abuse. FACS were called. Not only that but the other x-ray’s that they CLAIM they did, also had two breaks for each bone that they CLAIMED were broken. Later it would turn out that the x-ray machine was broken almost like if there was a piece of hair on the lens and it captured it in all the pictures. Apparently all of the patients that day had the same thing happen. I don’t buy it. I say this family was and is on the target list of the FACS Niagara. They never even saw one x-ray until this day. In addition they have been grossly treated by all departments involved. Especially FACS but including the Welland Hospital and the Hamilton Sick Kids Hospital. With the exception for the nurses. Also funny thing is that the the grandmother (my friend) and not the mother are who they really attacked in this and her right to privacy was completely ignored. Yet they have suffered and are not done suffering because those of us who have been put through this criminal abuse knows it will always affect us and our children and on and on. Especially if you speak out and you have the credibility and the strength. Add the love in one’s heart to tell the truth and help others, makes you a very formidable enemy of the Children’s Aid Societies in North America. Also if you are weak or poor and all to many are unaware of their rights, they are snatching them right out of the hospital as their born. They base it on probability. It’s so easy for them to commit these crimes and destroy people. I’m so happy I ran into this article it is extremely helpful. However, I am deeply sorry for Anthony and his family. I and thousands of innocent loving parents know how you feel and I wish you the best. You have to be aware of your rights and the rights of your children. You have to be aware of all the tricks of their trade. keep every piece of information, every card, every love note from your children, every newspaper article your children are in, every good thing because in the future possibly their future they may need to defend their personalities, their up-bringing and mental well-being in an effort to save their own children one day. Not only that but they could be faced with so many different accusations in life that they may need to defend themselves against and once your are in the system guilty or not you are labeled. All to often they are back preying on the offspring of the victims. This young mother did get her baby girl back and rightfully so. The judge in this case knew of my special person’s creditably, she knew that they were attacking this woman in an effort to win and justify the apprehension of this baby. This judge is all to aware of the abuses in the system and the dirty tricks they use. Fortunately she ordered in favor of the mother and ordered the child returned.
Baby in Peril
October 3, 2011 permalink
Tyson John Gerald Burnett was born on September 29 at 12:11 am weighing 7 pounds 3 ounces. Children's aid is interested in the boy because mother Jessica Pelissero's previous child, Baby Cassidy was taken by CAS and later died in their custody. CAS blames the mother for the problems, but Jessica says the hospital let the girl starve to death. This new baby may be in the news soon.
Mohawks Dig for Children
October 3, 2011 permalink
The Mohawk Nation and Kevin Annett announce the start of excavations to disinter bodies of children buried at a residential school. The announcement is accompanied by a video, YouTube and local copy. Here is an hour-long interview of Kevin Annett (mp3) on the same topic.
Canada News Watch The Latest Canadian News
Unmarked graves of institutionalized children dug up in Canada (Breaking News)
Dig for Children’s Remains Begins at Canada’s Oldest Residential School Sovereign Mohawk Nation commences groundbreaking investigation of mass murder by Church and State BRANTFORD, ONTARIO — Elders of the Mohawk Nation in collaboration with the International Tribunal into Crimes of Church and State (ITCCS) and its Secretary, Kevin Annett, announced today the commencement of forensic excavations on the grounds of the oldest Indian residential school in Canada – the Mohawk Institute run by the Church of England. Frustrated by the ongoing whitewash by the Canadian government of the murder of residential school children by Catholic and Protestant churches, the Sovereign Mohawk nation of Grand River has begun digging for children’s remains to “finally give them a proper burial and bring to trial those who killed them”, to quote Mohawk elder Bill Squire.
Source: Canada News Watch
October 3, 2011 permalink
The rally in itself only generated about twelve individual participants, but the word reached far into the community. Apart from lots of horn honking four separate stories came forward from the recesses of this community and, each of these are inclined to become publically involved, stage their battles in the war for public awareness.
Two are fathers who have been discredited, one having maintained a single job for ~15 years, the other ~35. Each gave a reasonable first impression of their demeanor, however, one was the excitable sort whom the CAS has apparently been pushing his buttons in preparation for when the time comes that they can unequivocally discredit him, in combination with these manipulations and the already falsified record. Here the CAS has acted on false allegations from the public and, a criminal "charge" which dad had received from his youth 10 years past. This passionate individual has given evidence to CAS as to the questionable care of his 14 month old son as being received in the mothers care, she whom has a long and sorted history with the CAS from past relations. It appeared to this writer that, CAS is buying time for the dust to settle being as, they have to date discourage dad into thinking that the visitation process dad and son are being subjected to, with all the restrictions and emotional blackmail, is not healthy for his son. The CAS has already facilitated where, one of their workers has walked away from the case saying she is not able to deal with dads hostility, the hostility which they the CAS instilled by ignoring his concerns for his son being deliberate left in an environment with illegal drug users rather than his care. The most likely conclusion one who is experienced with CAS is, the worker walked away by design making such allegations for a future day against dad, and then CAS will swoop in on the mother when the timing is right.
The other Father's story stems three generations. His first partnership which was estranged at the time of his Childs conception was to have the unborn child put up for adoption, however, dad had a lawyer who educated him to the fact that as the father he was to be the first in the bidding for adoption. CAS proceeded to breach his confidentiality and tell the mother this fact who then out of spite kept the child, reared it in a questionable manner, the deluded child then having children of her own which are now in CAS ownership as the result of said questionable upbringing.
Two grandmothers came forward stating that in each of the situations with their grandchildren, CAS stepped in with false allegations, manufactured false documentation, and hence denied the grandparents any right to be the family of those children involved. One of these grandmothers also had a nephew taken.
Three of the four parties with personal accountings of CAS abuse of power came out to the rally, one from Durham Region, to lend their solidarity to Patricia and her daughter. But more importantly in their opinions, were the need to bring public awareness to the sad reality which future children will be subjected.
All are of the mind and comprehension that, there is a need to provide help for families in need, however, each are also aware that the legislation in place today is not being used in the spirit which it was intended or written in. Conversation took place on the line were the parties collaborated and concluded that even though there is legislation in place there is no enforcing body such as the Ministry of Labour is present for enforcing the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act. It was noted that in other provinces there is currently Ombudsman oversight which is being called for in Ontario by some, however still those provinces remain just as rampant as does the business world in the face of the Ministry of Labour regardless of Ombudsman oversight. Therefore this discussion concluded that a peer provision would likely be the only venue which cannot be tainted by any such bureaucratic corruption.
Through this writers diligence towards informing the press of the conditions behind this event, it was afforded front page coverage per that by Vaalerie MacDonald below and, that coverage was directly responsible to bring a number of the above people with their stories out of the woodwork. This is a victory! The message herein is that, as futile as it seems day to day, if in your rally you accomplish any degree of public awareness or the voice of four more stories, you have won one more battle in this war. The rally displayed banners with the web addresses for canadacourtwatch.ca, fixcas.com and blakout.ca, and all parties who were seeking direction were directed to get educated via these venues.
Despite the success of this campaign to reach the child, Patricia's daughter to date bitterly believes the lie that she was willingly forsaken and abandoned to CAS care as per the brainwashing she has been subjected to over the past ten years. Valerie MacDonald and her team have gone above and beyond the call of journalism, reporting to the public that this child's life has been compromised beyond any semblance of humanity because "She believes I gave her up to the CAS," Should fait play a role in this article reaching the child, some how, then there remains a chance for her freedom from them who are grooming her for the next generation of captors. A simple Thank you to Valerie, is not enough. And a thank you to friends, family and them who attended as promised is extended.
Source: email from informant who prefers to remain anonymous
Pothead Social Worker
Drunk Foster Mom
October 1, 2011 permalink
New York social worker Renee Pearson was caught driving under the influence of marijuana and in possession of ecstasy. And in a second enclosed article, Pennsylvania foster mother Catarina Jean Delgiacco has upstaged Canadian Cynthia Racine by driving drunk with five foster children in her car.
Social Worker in Drug Bust on Southern State
Cops say Amityville woman had marijuana and ecstasy.
A Nassau County social worker faces drug charges after she was arrested on drug charges on the Southenr State Parkway near North Massapequa Friday morning, state police said.
A trooper stopped a gray Nissan driven by Renee Pearson, 32, of Amityville, who was driving west on the parkway because she was allegedly speeding.
When he approached the car he could smell the odor of marijuanna, police said.
Police found several bags of pot and 12 green tablets which officers believed to be ecstacy.
Pearson was charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance. marijuanna possession and traffic violations.
Source: Massapequa Patch
Plum foster mom to go to trial on DUI charge
An Allegheny County woman accused last summer of driving under the influence on Interstate 70 with five foster children in her vehicle waived her right to a preliminary hearing on Monday.
Catarina Jean Delgiacco of Holiday Park Drive, Plum, will stand trial in Westmoreland County Common Pleas Court on charges filed by Rostraver Police of driving under the influence of alcohol, five counts of reckless endangerment, five counts of endangering the welfare of children and failing to use proper restraint systems.
Delgiacco was charged after a traffic stop at 2:08 a.m. July 15. Police said the woman had been celebrating her 60th birthday two hours earlier with family members in the Mon Valley.
Police Officer Joseph D. Spinola wrote in an affidavit of probable cause that he saw Delgiacco's 2008 GMC Yukon driving erratically -- crossing the white fog lines and nearly hitting a concrete barrier as she drove east near the Arnold City exit.
When Spinola pulled Delgiacco's car over, he noticed a strong odor of alcohol and that her speech was slurred, according to the affidavit filed before West Newton District Judge Charles Christner. In the rear seat, Spinola said, were five young children who he later determined were between ages 2 and 10.
The two youngest passengers, age 2 and 5, wore seat belts but were not properly restrained in car seats as required by state law, according to police.
Spinola said Delgiacco failed three field sobriety tests at the scene.
The children were released to family members. Delgiacco was taken to Mon Valley Hospital in Carroll Township, Washington County, to have blood drawn. Police reported a portable alcohol breath device indicated her blood-alcohol content was 0.16 percent, or twice the legal limit, according to the affidavit of probable cause.
Delgiacco's status with the Westmoreland County Children's Bureau as a foster parent in light of the arrest could not be determined yesterday afternoon.
She was ordered to appear Nov. 16 before Judge Debra Pezze for formal arraignment. She remains free on recognizance bond.
Source: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Social Worker Kills Baby
September 30, 2011 permalink
California social worker Melissa Swanson and her husband Michael Cross are accused of killing their own 31-day-old baby. How come those social worker higher-ups, the ones who can spot parents at risk of harming children, didn't revoke this worker's license BEFORE she killed a baby?
Long Beach social worker, mother charged with her baby's death has license revoked
Attorney General's Office finds defendant a danger to clients
LONG BEACH -- Authorities on Friday officially revoked the license of a social worker and 34-year-old Long Beach mother who stands accused of felony child abuse in the beating death of her 31-day-old baby.
Melissa Swanson, 34, and her husband, Michael Cross, 42, are each charged with felony cruelty to a child causing death in the slaying of their daughter, Michaela Cross.
The couple were arrested Aug. 12, a day after Long Beach police and paramedics responded to a 911 call to their home in the 600 block of Magnolia Avenue to find the newborn already dead.
Photos of the baby show her bottom and face covered in bruises and blistering on her lips.
The couple allegedly told investigators they were force feeding the 31-day-old baby, but the Coroner's investigator said the blisters were not consistent with force feeding.
The preliminary coroner's report listed the baby's cause of death as blunt force trauma to the head and noted the fatal injury was likely inflicted a week prior to her death.
A bail review hearing was scheduled for the couple Friday but was postponed.
However a representative from the Attorney General's Office was in court to officially revoke Swanson's license as a registered social worker.
A defense attorney told the court previously that Swanson was not working at the time of the incident, but the prosecution pointed out that was because Swanson was still on maternity leave from the birth of her baby.
Swanson was trained specifically to work with children and was deemed a potential danger to clients by the Attorney General's Office, which oversees licensing of social workers, authorities said.
She and her husband are scheduled to return to the Long Beach Superior Court Wednesday for a bail reduction hearing.
Swanson and Cross are each being held in lieu of $1 million bail, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department's Inmate Information Center.
Source: Long Beach Press-Telegram
Cobourg Rally for Daughter
September 30, 2011 permalink
Mother Patricia Bools was tricked into signing papers that gave her daughter to CAS as a crown ward. They told her that her daughter did not want to see her, a common CAS deception, but a recent letter from the girl said the opposite. Some pictures are in Gone For Ten Years (pdf). Tomorrow there will be a rally in Cobourg to bring attention to Patricia's case.
Protest against CAS planned for Saturday
COBOURG — A Mississauga woman who claims the Children's Aid Society (CAS) "stole" her daughter from her 10 years ago and is keeping her away in a Baltimore-area group home is bringing her protest to Cobourg this Saturday.
Patricia Bools told Northumberland Today she is making her case public here because this December her daughter turns 18 and if she has been "brainwashed" by the CAS into believing Bools doesn't want her, her daughter can legally leave and vanish from her life forever.
Peel Region CAS "tricked me into signing papers," Bools said in a telephone interview from her Mississauga home this week. "I didn't know it was for (her to become a) Crown Ward."
Making a child a Crown Ward of the CAS is an action completed through court, but Bools maintains she did not receive proper notice until the court case had already taken place.
Initially, her daughter was at a home in Brampton and Bools said she had "regular visits every Tuesday," but then the child was moved to Falconhurst, a group home near Baltimore, north of Cobourg. No visits have been permitted for the past seven years, Bools claims.
Bools said she has been told by the home's staff her daughter didn't want to see her — but last Friday, Oct. 23, Bools continued, she received the first letter in a long time in which her daughter says she'd like to see her mother. Bools said she recently found out where Falconhurst is but has been told by CAS workers she is not authorized to talk to her daughter.
"She believes I gave her up to the CAS," but that is not so, Bools stressed.
Circumstances involving an abusive former husband led to a hospital visit where the CAS was called in and unfounded assumptions were made at that time, Bools said. Some of the alleged details of the conflict appear on a website that announces Saturday's local protest.
Bools said she has been in touch with several organizations, including Protecting Canadian Children and Canada Court Watch, whose members held a similar protest on Aug. 8 in front of the Northumberland CAS office on Burnham Street in Cobourg as part of a small-town tour en route to Ottawa. She said she expects their members, together with her own family and friends, will attend the protest between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. planned to take place either at the local CAS office again or at the William Street, Cobourg court building near McDonald's restaurant, according to the website.
During the August protest in Cobourg, members held signs decrying what they called "corruption" and "secrecy" of CAS organizations across Ontario, and elsewhere in Canada. One sign read "Stolen Children Want To Go Home" and a spokesperson from Peterborough said the CAS funding criteria are tied to the additional number of children they take into care, leading to children being taken from their own homes.
Northumberland CAS executive director Rosaleen Cutler, during the last protest, said the CAS organizations across Ontario are very accountable and the number of children in care across Ontario is actually declining — not increasing.
She reiterated in an interview this week that each CAS has its own board of directors that governs its operations.
Asked about Bools's protest, Cutler said she was unaware of it.
"I don't know anything about the case," she said.
As to the process, in general, Cutler said children can be placed anywhere in the province and the CAS involved (in this case, Peel Region) contracts directly through the ministry-licensed facilities for these placements. It does not involve the CAS in the region, she said.
When a child is put into care a work plan or series of work plans is put in place and the family is involved. The document is seen by the family before court and the family has time to respond to it before going to court, Cutler said. Given the decade-long struggle described by Bools, the court rules may, however, have changed during that time, Cutler added.
These work plans include how all parties will work together for the child's welfare and the special times parent and child are to be together, Cutler said.
"Usually they are invited to participate in the plan of care through the years," she said.
The protest website is www.projectapril.ca.
Source: Northumberland Today
Addendum: The owner of the site mentioned by Northumberland Today, projectapril.ca, has been threatened, almost certainly by CAS. The domain name was registered on September 8, 2011 and has already been threatened three times. Here is the (undated) communication:
We are contact you in regard of a violation of our Terms of Services. The following abuse report has been received regarding your website at: projectapril.ca and due to this reason we have been forced to suspend the account. Here it is details from the abuse report:
Projectapril.ca site features privileged legal documents regarding proceedings involving this person's daughter. This is an offence which falls under Section 45 Subsection 8 of the Child and Family Services Act and can result in a fine of up to $10, 000 or imprisonment of up to 3 years. The section is titled Prohibition Identifying a Child. We are requesting that this site remove the legal documents or that the site be shut down.
Please contact us at earliest convenience, so this matter could be resolved.
Source: email from informant who prefers to remain anonymous
Though the communication says the account has been suspended, we found it still working as of the morning of September 13.
Persons wishing to expose CAS on the internet should use a web host outside of Canada. A web hosting company will usually favor paying customers over complaints from a foreign country.
September 30, 2011 permalink
Someone posted a question and answer at a Peterborough all-candidates meeting about ombudsman oversight of the MUSH sector, including CAS. The most charitible thing to say about the answers is that the candidates are all-clueless. YouTube and local copy (flv).
Hiring Child Protection Worker
September 30, 2011 permalink
It is too late to apply for this job, but you can get an idea of what CAS wants, and the pay rate. One thing missing from the job requirements: registration.
CHILD PROTECTION WORKER
The agency currently has available a full-time Child Protection Worker position within a Parent and Child Capacity Team. This position is currently in the Kitchener office, however, the work location is subject to change. This position is primarily Intake, however, may be rquired to perform Family Service and Intake duties depending on service needs.
This position provides protective and preventative service as mandated under the Child and Family Services Act to families and children; investigates complaints of children alleged to be in need of protection, assumes case management responsibility for protection caseload; assesses family and individual functioning; provides therapeutic intervention to clients; provides protective services to clients including: apprehending children and bringing all related matter to the Ontario Court of Justice (Family Division); prepares reports, correspondence and documents for internal and external use.
- MSW or BSW from a university of recognized standing;
- Related Masters or Bachelors degree;
- Experience in Child Welfare an asset;
- Valid “G” Ontario Driver’s License with access to reliable vehicle.
Applicants should also possess a proven ability and willingness to work as an integral member of a team; strong assessment skills in order to assess clients needs, formulate plans of service and monitor/evaluate progress; proven crisis intervention skills; excellent oral and written communication skills; strong time management skills.
$53,953 to $70,999 per annum
Social Work - Grade 8
Article 15.07 applies to internal applicants.
Please submit resume electronically to, email@example.com, on or before 4:00 p.m. the date of closing. Resumes will only be accepted electronically.
DATE POSTED: September 20, 2011
CLOSE DATE: September 26, 2011
Human Resources Department
a community where all children can grow up safe, healthy, and loved
200 Ardelt Ave., Kitchener, ON, N2C 2L9168 Hespeler Rd., Cambridge, ON, N1R 6V7
phone: (519)576-0540fax: (519)576-5304 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Source: FACS Waterloo
CAS Assesses Dead Boy
September 30, 2011 permalink
After the Canadian legal system drove disabled boy Mitchell Wilson to suicide, a letter arrived from children's aid saying the boy needed an assessment. Too late. How about an assessment of the system that drove him to suicide?
'Angel' deserves justice
Accused bully will still face day in court despite boy's death
OSHAWA, ONT. - Mitchell Wilson should be here.
The frightened 11-year-old with muscular dystrophy was scheduled to miss a day of school and come here, to this grey, imposing court house, to face the accused bully charged last November with slamming him into the ground and stealing his dad's iPhone.
But the disabled boy is not here. His grandmother Pam carries his photo in her hands, heartbreak in her chest. His sad-eyed dad Craig and stepmom Tiffany Usher, his friend Max, several supporters, a dozen media reporters -- we are all here.
While Mitchell is not.
His father went to wake him up for his first day of Grade 6 a few weeks ago only to discover his son had taken his own life. Just the day before, Mitchell was served with a subpoena to testify against 13-year-old J.S., his former schoolmate who turned the happy-go-lucky jokester into an anxious and suicidal child.
"It was a fearful day for him," his brave dad told reporters outside the courthouse. "It would have been a tough day for him to come and obviously he was so fearful, he did what he did."
But at least Mitchell will still have his day in court.
As we told you in our exclusive heartwrenching story last week, the boy's father was afraid the case would be dropped because his only son was no longer here to identify his assailant. And with no publicity about the case, there's little doubt that's what would have happened.
But thanks to the Toronto Sun story, which led to others done by other media outlets as well as an outpouring of support from the public, the justice system wouldn't dare let the youth's charges of assault and robbery simply be withdrawn. Instead, with a gallery of media taking down her every word, Ontario Court Justice Mary Teresa Devlin agreed to adjourn the case until Nov. 21 to give the Crown time to file an application to have Mitchell's written affidavit entered as evidence in place of his testimony.
"Mitchell's voice will still get heard," said his relieved dad. "I'm sure the judge has read the newspaper and was touched by the story. How could it not touch her?"
His son used to walk six times a day through his Pickering neighbourhood to prevent his body from further wasting from MD and it was during one of those walks that he was jumped by the older boy. With the mugger's friends bullying him, Mitchell severely curtailed his exercise, his mobility rapidly deteriorated to the point he would soon need a wheelchair and his depression grew until the poor child felt suicide was his only escape.
In his grief, Mitchell's eloquent dad is determined to tell Mitchell's story. "I can't do anything for my child anymore," he explained. "So let's hopefully save some other people's children so they don't have to go through this mess."
But he is angry that unlike the United States, where singer Lady Gaga and President Barak Obama have spoken out about the scourge of bullying, the problem here is often ignored. "Where are Canadian politicians today? " he demanded. "There's not one politician here to say, 'Hey Craig, we're going to change the laws so that there's not another Mitchell Wilson out there.' Not one."
For Pam Wilson, who clung tightly to the black and white portrait of her only grandson, it was a day haunted by the absence of her special boy. If only he had hung on, he would have seen that he was not alone and, hopefully, that his attacker would be punished.
"It isn't OK to beat up a little disabled kid and get away with it," she said, tears streaming down her face. "You can't do that. It just isn't right. And he had so much sadness, losing his mom and then being disabled. It wasn't right. And there are other kids out there that are suffering in the same way. "
But she believes Mitchell's legacy will be the awareness his death has brought to the problem of bullying.
"I feel like he touched us for awhile," she said. "He was an angel -- and now he's gone. And this angel has to do some work on this earth through us."
ACCUSED'S BROTHER ALSO FACES JUDGMENT
The boy accused of mugging disabled Mitchell Wilson is not the only child in the family in trouble with the law.
J.S.'s 17-year-old brother is now in prison, charged with an armed robbery at a Bell store in Aurora that left both the youth and a York Regional Police officer wounded.
The teen, his name protected under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, and two other adult suspects from Pickering were arrested July 21 and charged with robbery with use of a firearm, theft over $5,000, forcible confinement, possession of weapons dangerous, possession of property obtained by crime over $5,000 and disguise with intent.
On Wednesday, the Special Investigations Unit cleared the arresting officer for accidentally discharging his handgun during the takedown, which sent a bullet into his own forearm while fragments shattered the teen's jaw. The SIU said the 17-year-old suspect had ignored a police command to get down on the ground and the gun accidentally went off while he was trying to subdue him.
It makes Mitchell's family wonder what kind of parenting is going on in a home where one son is accused of armed robbery and the other of mugging a disabled boy.
"It probably isn't the kid, it's probably the parents looking after the kid," says Mitchell's father, Craig Wilson. "Why hasn't someone removed this child from their parents' care to make a difference in this kid's life?"
He also wonders if the Children's Aid Society is involved in their family as they are in his own. A letter from the CAS arrived in Wilson's mailbox just a day after Mitchell committed suicide saying they were being assessed.
There were no answers forthcoming from J.S.'s family Wednesday. No one answered the door at their Ontario Housing unit and no one appeared on his behalf in court except his lawyer.
"He's just a child," said Mitchell's grandmother, Pam Wilson. "We don't want to be vigilantes. I feel bad for the bully because the bully has missed out on so much in life and hasn't been loved or cared for."
Source: London Free Press
Social Worker Disciplined
September 30, 2011 permalink
Social worker Woolie (Albert) Madden has been found guilty of professional misconduct by the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers. The allegations are that he failed to intervene aggressively enough in the lives of children. This is a continuation of a long-established pattern in child welfare. Workers who fail to remove children from their families are disciplined, while those who remove children and place them in unsafe foster homes are protected from discipline, even when the results are fatal. The report is Discipline Decision Summary (pdf), local copy.
Discipline Committee Finds Former Social Worker Guilty of Professional Misconduct
TORONTO, Sept. 27, 2011 /CNW/ - The Discipline Committee of the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers has found Woolie (Albert) Madden guilty of professional misconduct. The College's allegations relate to the former member's conduct or actions in regard to the children of five families, while he was employed in the role of a Child Protection Worker in the period during which he was registered as a social work member of the College.
In its decision, the Discipline Committee ordered that the findings and order of the Committee be published with the name of the former member on the general newswire.
A summary of the Committee's decision is available on the College's website at www.ocswssw.org.
About the College
The Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers regulates the practice of social work and social service work in Ontario. The College ensures professional and public accountability for the thousands of registered social workers and registered social service workers in our province. Professionals who wish to use the title "social worker" or "social service worker" can only do so if they are registered with the College. Registration is also required if you represent yourself or hold yourself out as a "social worker" or "social service worker."
For further information:
Glenda McDonald, M.S.W., RSW, Registrar
(416) 972-9882 ext. 201
September 30, 2011 permalink
Vern Beck reports that a school principal has been bullied by a CAS worker, and Canada Court Watch now recommends that school principals make an audio recording of meetings with CAS. In a second enclosed item, Canada Court Watch reports that Brant CAS tried to interview children in school in contravention of a written promise made a week before to the parents to stay away from the school.
Vernon Beck The Questions and Answers for School officials (on the main Canada Court Watch webpage) has been updated to advise school principals to secretly record CAS workers who may lie or attempt to bully their way into a school to question a child. We have had a principal contact Court Watch and advise us that an unregistered CAS worker attempted to bully her way into his school claiming that she "had the authority of a police officer" and that the Child and Family Services Act allowed her to come into his school. Principals are now advised to secretly record those CAS workers who use lies and trickery. It seems that some of the principals are getting fed up with the CAS bullying tactics as well and would love to see some of these workers fired.
Source: Facebook, Vern Beck
Children's Aid Society of Brant violates its own promises not to terrorize children
(Sept 28, 2011) Court Watch has learned today that the Children's Aid Society of Brant attempted today to enter a Catholic elementary school for the purposes of unlawfully detaining and interrogating children without the knowledge of the parents and without the informed consent of the children.
Luckily, the Principal of the school exercised due diligence and under her authority under Section 265.(1) of the Education Act, refused to allow the unregistered CAS worker to enter the school to conduct an unlawful interrogation. The Principal can be commended for her actions to stand up for the rights of her students before bowing to the demands of CAS workers who have absolutely no authority to question the children without the consent of the parents. It must be noted that the parents offered in writing to allow the CAS workers to interview the children at the children's home. They did not want the children interviewed at school where harm would likely result to the children.
This attempt by the Brant CAS workers to unlawfully detain the children was made in spite of a promise in writing on September 20, 2011 to the parents that the Society would not interview the children at their school shows how some CAS workers and agencies cannot be trusted and have little regard for the rights of children.
Should the Brant CAS and CAS child protection workers, including case worker, Ms. Suzanne Peacook, continue in efforts to violate the rights of these children and attempt to bully the principal any further, local advocates will engage in a media and flyer campaign informing all parents in the area about how the CAS is attempting to trample over the rights of children and in effect terrorizing the children. Should the school board not protect the children then the flyer campaign will include the school board as well.
More details to be made available as this story unfolds.
Source: Canada Court Watch
September 30, 2011 permalink
A Texas mother has found an ingenious way to keep CPS away. Daughter Christianne ran away from CPS after a year and a half of abusive foster care, then mother Jaime Brown applied for and received a protective order, the kind usually handed to a husband when a wife wants to get rid of him. If this method withstands legal appeal, it could become very popular.
Mother accuses CPS of neglecting child
HOUSTON – Child Protective Services is being ordered to stay away from a child, due to what happened to the girl while she was in the agency’s custody.
Jaime Brown, the girl’s mother, said it’s been a long fight.
"I felt very helpless. Very helpless, and very alone," she said.
Brown’s daughter was taken from her by Child Protective Services in July of 2009, because of allegations of neglect.
Brown claims it is all a big mix-up.
"I was horrified. I did not know what was happening. I wanted to help her and I couldn't," she said.
After 18 months in a CPS overseen group home 14-year-old Christianne ran.
”The case worker called (her) mom and said she ran away, but you find her, you can keep her," said Julie Ketterman, the Brown’s attorney.
That is exactly what her mother did. After Brown found her daughter and made sure that she was safe, her attorney went to court turning the tables on CPS asking for a protective order against Child Protective Services, because of what allegedly happened when Christianne was in CPS's care.
"She was beat up quite a bit. There was the running away. She has braces and the wires were literally falling off of her teeth," Ketterman said.
In August of this year the Brazoria County court ruled in her favor granting a protective order saying:
"(CPS) engaged in conduct constituting family violence and good cause exists for issuance of a protective order...in best interest of the child."
It is a one-page ruling with big potential impact.
"It could snowball," said Ketterman.
That is because if you apply CPS's own rules when it comes to child placement, CPS may now have a problem.
"If there is a finding of child abuse or neglect or family violence, then you no longer qualify to have a child placed," said Ketterman.
Now it is the agency itself that now has this finding of abuse. A hearing in Brazoria County could make the order against CPS permanent for two years. We contacted CPS and the agency told us simply that they would be answering the allegations in court.
Source: KHOU-TV Houston
Neil Haskett Questions Rick Bartolucci
September 29, 2011 permalink
Today the Sudbury Star conducted an e-town hall with Sudbury Liberal Rick Bartolucci. Participants asked questions and Mr Bartolucci answered. Neil Haskett got in the exchange captured below. Mr Bartolucci answered only the first question, and broke off the event before Neil could follow up on the ineffectiveness of the board of directors as a form of citizen involvement ensuring transparency and accountability.
1:58 Comment From Neil
Mr Bartolucci, I would like to know why the McGuinty government is so opposed to accountability and transparency by voting down Ombudsman Bill 183 back on May 5, 2011. Why is Ontario is the only province in Canada not allowing investigations of Hospitals, Nursing Homes, School Boards, Municipalities, Universities and Children's Aid Societies? Also, why did your government put in section 15 in the budget to prevent patients in cases of malpractice from accessing their medial records?
2:01 The Sudbury Star:
Rick: We're not opposed to accountability and transparency. We think accountability and transparency re necessary. Thee are more avenues to transparency and accountability than reporting to the ombudsman or having ombudsman oversight. Each of the agencies mentioned is responsible to a board that is involving citizens, that is ensuring that transparency and accountability is at a local level with responsibilities attached to those boards.
2:01 The Sudbury Star:
Hi readers, we've come to the end of our e-town hall with Rick Bartolucci. We're now about to head into an editorial board meeting with him.Thank you all for your great questions. - Brian MacLeod.
Source: Sudbury Star
Source: Facebook, Neil Haskett
Ex-Foster Child Sues
September 29, 2011 permalink
London Ontario resident John Milonas is suing a defunct church and its pastor, as well as CAS, for abuse while he was in their care.
Pastor’s former pupil files $1.5 M abuse lawsuit
John Milonas was just 12 years old when he was assaulted, abused and humiliated by his pastor and teacher, Royden Wood.
The London man, now 38, announced at a news conference Tuesday he has launched a $1.5-million lawsuit against Wood and the defunct Ambassador Baptist Church.
"The abuse has ruined my life . . . Depression, feelings of failure, (are) something I deal with daily," said Milonas, who is married with three children and works as a computer technician.
In the mid-1980s, Milonas attended an alternative school run by the church.
At Wood's criminal trial in 2008, court heard that Milonas and two other boys, Richard Howell and Norman Howell, were singled out from the other students and subjected to Wood's "behaviour-modification" methods, which included pulling hairs out of their upper lips with pliers, punching them in the stomach and making them stand at attention for hours at a time.
Milonas is represented by London lawyer Phillip Millar. Richard and Norman Howell are not plantiffs in the lawsuit, but Millar said they'll be included in the future.
The suit also names the Children's Aid Society and the Education Ministry as defendants. Millar said he is trying to determine if the alternative school was registered with the ministry or whether the Children's Aid Society was involved.
Milonas said he lost two years of education at the alternative school and later dropped out of high school in Grade 10.
"(Wood's) whole goal was (to) turn us into men, but he has done just the opposite and damaged us for life," Milonas said.
Milonas said he was placed in the church school by his parents to "build character." Milonas later broke off all contacts with his parents.
In 2008, Wood was sentenced to 11 months in jail after he was convicted of assaulting the boys and sexually assaulting two female church members.
Millar said Wood later filed an appeal of his conviction. He said he's still trying to determine the status of Wood's appeal.
Millar said Wood and his wife live in a vacation property near Gravenhurst.
The Ambassador Baptist Church, at King and Adelaide streets, was closed in 2007.
Millar said it's unlikely anything can be collected from the defunct church, but Wood and his wife have assets.
He said Wood, who defended himself at trial in the criminal case, has retained a Toronto law firm.
Source: London Free Press
Social Worker Thief
September 29, 2011 permalink
Former Oregon DHS case worker Diana Baxter stole $65,000 from the department.
Ex-DHS worker pleads guilty to 20 counts in theft case
PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -
A Portland woman accused of stealing from a state government agency pleaded guilty Wednesday to more than 20 counts of criminal charges.
Diana Baxter stole $65,000 from the Department of Human Services, according to authorities.
She was once a case worker for DHS but was fired in 2009. Detectives said she manipulated internal records and opened fictitious accounts.
Investigators said a man living with her also collected welfare benefits as a result of her false reporting.
Baxter pleaded guilty to aggravated theft by deception, felony computer crime, official misconduct, first-degree theft by deception and first-degree aggravated theft.
Source: KPTV Portland
September 28, 2011 permalink
At last week's rally in Niagara Falls FACS agreed to meet with their opponents, and that meeting took place today.
Pat Niagara The meeting with FACS was 3 and half hours long and we all feel that it was a very productive meeting and they listened to our issues and concerns regarding recording, unregistered workers, unwarranted police searches and unlawful detention of children in schools, among other issues and will report to us any changes that they will implement based on our recommendations. FACS also has left the door open for future meetings to help improve the Childrens Aid Society for the Better.
We all agree there is a real need for child protection in Ontario, but the system needs an overhaul and since our logo represents that we are against FACS and to show good faith we agreed to revamp the Anti-FACS logo from this point on into the future. The people in Niagara and in Ontario want to see change within the Children's Aid, and FACS Niagara can be the first organization to make these changes making them the leader in building a better organization that's fair to all the people. If the CAS in Ontario want to stay a private organization then changes must be made before the government of Ontario puts its foot down and takes it over.
CHANGE IS CERTAIN TO HAPPEN, IT IS INEVITABLE!
Bobbie Niagara The meeting with the FACS was 3 and half hours long and we all feel that it was a very productive meeting and we have had them listen to our issues and concerns regarding recording, Unregistered workers, unwarranted police searches and unlawful detention of children in schools, amongst other issues. All in all it was a good meeting.
According to Chris Carter, the issues raised at the meeting were:
- workers in the schools
- the unlawful practice of social work
- allegations of abuse being registered against foster families and group home workers by children, youth and former wards
- the importance of the CAS establishing that its workers openly, with the families being notified, audio record their interactions with the families
- use of police in conjunction with CAS to search homes without judicial process
We learned that there are no reporting requirements between the CASs and the MCYS regarding the CAS internal complaint review process. Not consistent with Laurel Broten's claim that oversight already exists.
I asked about the internal guidelines which provided direction to the workers regarding which families should be requested to do a PCA (Parental Capacity Assessment). Mr Carter concluded from the lack of an answer that there are none by the MCYS or Niagara FACS. They utilize the PCA in cases when they need something to gain litigation advantage.
September 28, 2011
7900 Canadian Drive
Niagara Falls, ON L2E 6S5
Subject: Meeting with CAS rally group
Today FACS Niagara engaged in a meeting with several persons drawn from a rally group outside your office on September 23. I posted stories from three of the participants in that meeting on my internet news site dealing with child protection in Ontario (url below). All of the reports come filtered through your opponents. Since in calling the meeting you wish to get your views across to your critics, perhaps you would prefer to have your position stated without filtering. If you are able to respond, I will attach your comments verbatim to the same article.
Robert T McQuaid
558 McMartin Road
Mattawa Ontario P0H 1V0
And a poster warning. CAS is watching Facebook groups:
When posting to these or other Facebook groups dealing with Ontario child protection, expect your messages to be read by CAS.
September 28, 2011 permalink
CAS workers in Peterborough are threatening to strike.
Children's aid society workers could strike Oct. 17
Local children's aid workers could be on strike by Oct. 17 if a settlement isn't reached soon, the union president said.
Jennifer Smith, president the Ontario Public Service Employees Union Local 334, said the two sides are meeting again this week but the union has asked the conciliator to file a no-board report, effective for Friday, which would lead to a 17-day countdown to a strike.
Negotiations could continue within the 17-day countdown, which would end on Oct. 17 at 12:01 a.m., she said.
The roughly 130 people in the union local include frontline workers, child-protection workers and accountants, she said.
Nobody wants to strike, Smith said, but the Kawartha Haliburton Children's Aid Society is an "oppressive" work environment and employees are often working into the early-morning hours to meet expectations.
"Our biggest issue is wellness in the workplace…. You can't have an unhealthy work environment and not have it impact on your work with other people," Smith said.
Hugh Nicholson, the agency's executive director, said he's hopeful a settlement can be reached through this week's talks.
The workers, who voted 94% in favour of a strike if a settlement can't be reached, haven't taken any work action so far.
"And we're hopeful that will continue and there'll be no disruption for child-protection services," Nicholson said.
The two sides last met Aug. 23 and 24.
Union members have been without a new contract since March 2010.
The union has previously said the management style is "fear-driven," leading to a high turnover rate of staff.
Source: Peterborough Examiner
Addendum: Two strikes are also looming in Toronto.
"Do your part to improve supports for at-risk children," child welfare staff on verge of job action tell Toronto CAS
TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Sept. 29, 2011) - The well-being of vulnerable children and families in crisis is a priority for the more than 700 child welfare workers with the Children's Aid Society of Toronto (CAST). This is why they have used recent contract talks to find ways to better protect at-risk children by improving the quality of supports and services.
However, contract talks broke down earlier this week, when the Children's Aid Society of Toronto negotiating team was a no show at a scheduled day-long, labour-ministry facilitated bargaining meeting.
Today, the Toronto CAS staff - members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) 2316 are calling on their employer to "put at-risk children first and do your part to improve the quality of supports by getting back to the negotiating table. Work to achieve a new contract settlement and avoid service disruption," said Aubrey Gonsalves, a family service worker at the agency and president of CUPE 2316.
In the last few weeks over a dozen CAS employers including Toronto Catholic and Durham children's aid societies in the GTA have advocated along with CUPE for enhanced provincial funding and succeeded in negotiating new contract settlements. The Children's Aid Society of Toronto has been part of that advocacy work but, has so far refused to negotiate constructively to reach a settlement.
Child welfare is mandated under legislation. CASs receive their funding through the Ministry of Children and Youth (MCYS). The ministry has announced a new funding formula for the sector and many agencies are concerned they will receive less provincial monies for the services they are mandated to deliver.
"Service disruptions have been averted through creative problem solving at the negotiations table. But, that requires that both parties - the union and the employer show up to bargain. Other agencies have led the way and shown it can be done. They've been able to improve the quality of supports by ensuring there are adequate staffing levels put in place," says Gonsalves. "Why is the Children's Aid Society of Toronto pushing for a service disruption when a settlement is completely within reach?"
CUPE 2316 members voted over 97 per cent in support of strike action. The strike deadline is set for 12:01 a.m. Monday, October 3.
Source: Your Benzinga
Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE)
Social workers urge GTA Jewish community to help avoid service disruption
TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Sept. 27, 2011) - The front line social service workers at Jewish Family & Child Services (JF&CS) - a multi-disciplinary agency providing child welfare and family counselling to Jewish families in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), are appealing directly to the community they support in an effort to avert a service disruption.
In the last few weeks over a dozen employers at agencies like JF&CS including Toronto Catholic and Durham Children's Aid Societies in the GTA have advocated for enhanced provincial funding and succeeded in negotiating new contract settlements, averting service disruptions while improving the quality of supports by dealing with caseload and staffing levels.
A comparison of the online annual reports of JF&CS and Toronto's Catholic Children's Aid Society (an agency which also services a specific faith community) clearly shows that while the Catholic agency receives nearly all its funding from the province, JF&CS gets less than half of its funding from ministry sources. Instead, JF&CS is forced to rely on grants and donations from Jewish and other community agencies and individuals to deliver services.
"We believe that we all have a vested interest in the protection of at-risk children and youth, the well-being of families and to ensure services for the Jewish community are funded fairly. That's why we are alerting the community to the funding inequity at our agency. Staff is being called on to absorb the cost of underfunding. None of this is fair," says Laila Clein Friedman a community worker and the president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) 265 representing JF&CS social workers, counsellors, community workers, child welfare and administrative staff.
Other similar agencies have worked together with staff to advocate for adequate provincial funding to ensure the needed level of services and supports are available to the communities they support.
"Our agency administration should be working with us – the staff at JF&CS - to ensure that the agency gets its fair share of provincial funding. Jewish families in crisis deserve nothing less. Staff should not be shouldering the costs of funding shortfalls. We are calling on JF&CS to work with us to ensure that the vital services that we provide to the community are maintained without disruption," says Clein Friedman. "Why is JF&CS pushing for a service disruption when a settlement is completely within reach? Other agencies and staff have led the way and shown that it can be done."
Addendum: The Toronto CAS dispute reached a tentative settlement on October 3.
September 28, 2011 permalink
As a side-effect of the system of child protection to excess, schools are turning into armed camps. A memo from the Sandhurst Public School in eastern Ontario details the security measures required by police/CAS information. This level of security is not necessary until children are forcibly separated from their parents.
Foster Home Burned
September 28, 2011 permalink
A Wisconsin boy, possibly unhappy with the quality of his care, set fire to his foster parents' home.
Pittsfield teen charged with setting fire to home
A 16-year-old Pittsfield boy has been charged with setting fire to his foster parents' home at about 8 p.m. July 21.
The teen is being held on a $25,000 bond at the Brown County Jail on suspicion of felony arson. He is accused of setting a blaze that caused $150,000 in damage to Leonard and Deborah Klarkowski's home at 4551 Cimarron Lane. No one was hurt.
According to a criminal complaint, the teen and another foster child had run away from the home. The two later met with friends at a gas station and the suspect filled a gas can with gasoline. The teen said he poured gas on the back of the house, lit it on fire with the other foster child and watched the home burn for several minutes before returning to a red vehicle, the complaint said.
A 15-year-old foster child who was home in the basement at the time called authorities. That child reported a red vehicle parked on the road.
If convicted, the teen faces up to 40 years imprisonment and a $100,000 fine.
Court Commissioner Jane Sequin on Tuesday scheduled his initial appearance for Friday.
Source: Green Bay Press-Gazette
Mental Health Treatment
September 26, 2011 permalink
A young lad was being treated by Ontario's child protection or mental health system for an elevator phobia. He was calm until staff tried to put him on an elevator, but then freaked out. A woman waiting in an unrelated case recorded everything. During the entire incident a children's aid worker was in the room and did nothing to protect the boy from abuse. Listen the the screams of the boy as he received "treatment" from hospital security guards. The freakout audio (mp3) was created by re-recording from the original. There may be a higher quality copy available soon. It was made on September 26, 2011 by Melissa Buckingham-Russell in the emergency department of Southlake Regional Health Centre in Newmarket Ontario.
Melissa Buckingham-Russell Just got back from the hospital & I've NEVER been so disgusted. There was this boy around eleven years old in a room on a stretcher. Suddenly he is screaming at the top of his lungs: "PLEASE DON'T STRAP ME DOWN. PLEASE DON'T TAKE ME IN THE ELEVATOR. I'M SCARED OF ELEVATORS, PLEASE DON'T." There are 4 security guards pinning him down trying to restrain him in the middle of the emergency department while he's screaming. He even tells them he's in counselling due to his elevator phobia & continues to beg they not make him go in it. When that didn't help he yelled "YOU GUYS ARE REALLY GREAT FOR ANXIETY. PLEASE DON'T TAKE ME IN THE ELEVATOR. I'LL WALK LIKE A GOOD KID, PLEASE DON'T" He was kicking, screaming & arching himself trying to get loose. There was some woman standing there clearly not his mother cuz she didn't say a word or move to help this child. I was there with our CAS worker for a health issue so had my voice recorder going to record our conversations & it caught this whole ordeal with the child. They forced this poor kid to be restrained to a stretcher, & hysterically forced into an elevator. I felt so helpless & couldn't imagine what this poor child was feeling. I even said to our worker I couldn't sit there & watch it anymore. As a mother I felt so sick. The woman standing there didn't go up with him to wherever they were taking him either, My worker didn't seem fazed by it either except to say to me why don't they take him up the stairs. I'm still crying for this little boy, looked identical to my step-son. :-( Wondering if I should post the voice clip so everyone could hear this poor child.
Happy Birthday Neil
September 26, 2011 permalink
Today is Neil Haskett's birthday. Neil has been a leader in getting the issue of child protection into the public arena, and even into the provincial legislature. Here is a video happy birthday card showing him as husband, father and advocate: YouTube.
Foster Mom Infected
September 25, 2011 permalink
The province of British Columbia tested foster teen MW and found her positive for hepatitis C. But she was placed in the foster home of Teresa Iezzi without any warning of her dangerous disease. While administering aid to the girl, Iezzi was infected herself. How did the province help Iezzi? They cut off her foster contract putting her in financial distress and now refuse to take responsibility for her infection.
Foster mom battles B.C. in Hep-C claim
Teresa Iezzi says province didn't tell her drug-abusing teen had disease
The night of Feb. 4, 2001 began as a typical one for Burnaby foster mom Teresa Iezzi, although events were to transpire that changed her life.
Her house was packed with four or five high-risk teens, as part pf a 20-year contract with B.C.'s Ministry of Children and Family Development.
Iezzi says she tried to create a warm environment for the vulnerable youngsters.
"We specialized in Italian home cooking and lots of love," she says.
But when Burnaby RCMP picked up a troubled teen identified as "MW" and dropped her off late that night, it began a string of events that ended up in B.C. Supreme Court.
Iezzi is suing the province for negligence after she accidentally contracted the deadly hepatitis C disease from MW and her health was severely affected.
The province says Iezzi's actions were negligent and the case should be thrown out.
'SHE WAS CRAZY, WILD'
When the ministry asked if it was all right for the RCMP to drop off MW that fateful night, Iezzi said it would be OK.
"I never say no when they call me in an emergency," says Iezzi, now 67 and living in Chilliwack with family.
A bedroom was prepared downstairs and MW, 18, ate a little food when she arrived.
"She was a mess. I don't like to talk about kids like that, but she was a junkie," says Iezzi.
More details have come out about MW's background from court documents. She was a "chronic runaway," had overdosed twice and suffered "severe sexual abuse from her natural dad."
MW soon went to bed, but the house wasn't quiet for long.
After hearing someone banging against the walls, Iezzi rushed downstairs. She found MW in a convulsed state from a heroin and cocaine overdose. "She was crazy, wild," says Iezzi.
A needle was sticking out of MW's arm, and without thinking of her own safety, Iezzi gave into her instincts as a caregiver.
"The last thing I was thinking about was the needle. We are all human beings. I tried to help," she says.
In the confusion while calming the teenager down, Iezzi says, she barely noticed the needle sticking out from her own leg.
Paramedics, police and fire personnel showed up, but MW refused to leave Iezzi's care.
"I stayed up all night with her and took her to detox the next day, but she ran away," says Iezzi. It was months before an unsuspecting Iezzi learned she had hep C, a blood-borne disease that attacks the liver, causing joint pain, dental problems, fatigue and sore muscles. It can be fatal.
It took much longer to find out that the province already knew MW had hep C when she arrived on Iezzi's doorstep.
Documents from 1999 show MW tested positive for hep C at a government-run youth detention centre. Iezzi denies being told beforehand about MW's serious ailment when she arrived late that night.
Her lawyer, Ian Waddell, a former MP and MLA, says the ministry was "negligent."
"I have the smoking gun," he says. Provincial counsel Keith Johnston says the province does not concede the point that Iezzi was not told.
He says Iezzi "knowingly accepted the risk" by permitting intravenous drug users to come to her home.
PROVINCIAL ACTIONS 'OUTRAGEOUS'
Iezzi's claim has been making its way through B.C. Supreme Court since being filed in 2009.
It is scheduled to go to trial on Oct. 31, but earlier this year the province asked for it to be thrown out on the basis that Iezzi took more than two years to file her claim.
Justice Grant Burnyeat ruled against the province on Aug. 25, but his decision is being appealed.
Waddell says Iezzi had good reasons to take so long: The province did not disclose to her that it knew about MW's condition in 1999, despite her repeated requests for information.
Court documents show ministry staff tried to persuade Iezzi several times to agree to a $30,000 settlement after her foster contract was suddenly cancelled in 2006.
Waddell calls the province's actions "outrageous."
"She gave them 23 years of her life. Are they ever going to settle? This woman is now 67 and she's not all that well. She has nothing. It seems so inhumane," he says.
Iezzi says hep C-related dental care has cost $40,000. She says $60,000 was lost on the sale of her house after her foster contract was cancelled and the family's mortgage payments vanished with it. (The province cited financial reasons for letting her go, but Iezzi believes it was related to MW.)
Iezzi says she is still suffering. "I have constant pain in my bones and muscles. I feel tired all the time. You never know when the hep C is coming back," she says. "I am so upset. It's horrible. I just want some justice. It's very stressful to fight all this garbage."
Waddell says the case has implications for foster parents all over B.C.
"They do a heck of a job. They're indispensable. They have no representation, no insurance and no union," he says.
'SHE CHOSE TO INTERVENE'
The province admits "in all likelihood" Iezzi contracted the disease from MW, but denies all her claims.
Johnston says Iezzi "knowingly" accepted children in her home who were prone to "high risk activities."
"MW was highly agitated and emotionally unstable [when she arrived]. [Iezzi] witnessed the child administering illicit drugs intravenously and notwithstanding the obvious risk, she chose to intervene," says Johnston. Iezzi's medical condition is disputed by the crown.
Johnston says she was "essentially cleared" of the hep C virus following treatment in 2003-04, but admitted there is evidence she has some "residual effects."
"This is a personal injury claim. The question is, who is responsible for the fact she was infected with hep C?" he asks.
Waddell says Iezzi has felt the full weight of the crown. "We are up against Goliath. Our opponents have very deep pockets," he says.
A spokesperson for the attorney-general's department, which is defending the case, said it never comments on matters which are before the courts.
Source: The Province
Addendum: The courts dismiss Iezzi's claim.
B.C. foster mom has Hepatitis C lawsuit dismissed
The B.C. Court of Appeal has thrown out the case of a former foster parent suing the government after being allegedly infected with Hepatitis C by a drugged-up teen client.
Teresita Iezzi claims the government failed to warn her that the teen, who accidentally stabbed her in 2001 with a needle while the teen was shooting up heroin, had the sometimes-fatal liver disease.
The government tried to have the case tossed out on the grounds that she had not filed the suit within the two-year time limitation, but a B.C. Supreme Court judge dismissed that argument.
The government appealed the Supreme Court decision and in a ruling released Thursday, that appeal was upheld and Iezzi’s action was dismissed.
Iezzi was diagnosed with the disease in 2002 and underwent chemotherapy for nine months in 2003. She did not connect the infection with the needle incident until one day in 2003 when she saw the teen on the street.
In early 2006, she told a social worker who placed foster children in her care that she had contracted the disease and asked him to review records to determine whether there was a link with the incident.
Iezzi was told in February or March 2006, that records confirmed that the child had the disease at the time of her placement in 2001.
Her foster parent contract with the children and family development ministry was cancelled in April 2006, but the decision is not alleged to have been made due to her health.
Several months later she complained about the cancellation and notified the ministry that she’d contracted the disease.
A fact-finding process was undertaken by the ministry between 2007 and February 2008 to look into the allegation regarding the teen’s infection.
In April 2008, the ministry made an offer to her for inadequate notice of termination and for the infection but she rejected the offer.
At about the same time, the social worker leaked to her a document confirming the Hepatitis C positive status of the teen at the time of placement.
She made a freedom of information request that confirmed the information in the document.
The trial judge decided that the limitation period had not expired because she was under stress and there were ongoing negotiations and the possibility of a settlement.
But B.C. Court of Appeal Justice Ian Donald found that Iezzi could have filed the lawsuit much earlier than she did.
He said there was no difference in circumstance for Iezzi between the time of the FOI request and the previous two years.
“The respondent was in as good a position to do in 2006 what she did in 2008 to confirm the social worker’s information. Her financial stresses and medical problems were the same. She lost her house in 2006. There is no evidence her health changed over the period 2006-2008.”
Donald concluded the limitation period had expired when she started the lawsuit, allowed the government’s appeal and dismissed the action.
His ruling was concurred in by Justice Peter Lowry and Madam Justice Kathryn Neilson. Iezzi could not be reached for comment.
Source: The Province
Police Back Social Workers
September 25, 2011 permalink
British police harass a family already being persecuted by social workers. In the article sectioned is a British term for putting a person behind bars indefinitely on pretense of mental health.
Police show themselves once again at the beck and call of social workers
The latest disturbing developments in the case of a family who are battling to retrieve their six children.
There have been further astonishing developments in the case I reported last week, of foreign-born parents repeatedly denied legal help in their battle to win back their six children, who were seized last year by the social workers of a London council. On Monday, the parents were yet again arrested, on a charge of conspiring to abduct their own children, to fly them in a private aircraft to France. This is utterly ludicrous since they have no idea where their children are. Four of them they have not seen for six months, and one for over a year; they have had no contact with their year-old baby for three months, since it was seized by the social workers for a second time.
The wife was forcibly stripped naked in front of a male policeman; the couple were held overnight in an unheated cell without blankets and the next morning taken to a mental hospital to be sectioned under the Mental Health Act. Five bemused doctors examined them, finding nothing wrong, and they were released. In the days following, after the street where they live had been cordoned off so that 28 police officers could search their flat, the couple were twice more arrested and released.
The treatment of this family has been so horrendous that I hope I can one day report it properly. But again, as so often in this and other family cases, why do the police seem so astonishingly compliant to the instructions of social workers? That is a mystery which I have never yet had satisfactorily explained.
Source: Telegraph (UK)
Niagara Falls Rally
September 23, 2011 permalink
At the end of an article glorifying Niagara FACS, the story admits that the real voice of the community was being heard outside, though the reporter got the basic facts wrong.
Expanded FACS building showcased in Falls
NIAGARA FALLS — It's a "surreal feeling" walking through the Shelley MacBain Centre for the first time … especially if your name is Shelley MacBain.
The adopted daughter of renowned former Niagara Falls MP Al MacBain couldn't stop smiling Friday as she toured the 810-square-metre expansion to Family and Children's Services Niagara. She and her brother John donated $750,000 to the project last December through their McCall MacBain Foundation.
"The building is incredible," she said, insisting Niagara Falls is still "home" despite living on Vancouver Island now. "I'm just humbled and honoured at the same time."
"I was actually adopted from the Children's Aid Society in 1963, so there's some deep-rooted feelings for me."
Donors and supporters of the FACS expansion were given tours of the Canadian Dr. facility. Shelley MacBain attended a morning session, while her billionaire brother flew in from Halifax to attend an afternoon tour.
John MacBain made a fortune with his chain of Auto Trader magazines, earning him the nickname King of Classifieds. He owned all of them in Canada except Ontario's. In 2006, he sold the company for $2 billion, and established the McCall MacBain Foundation in Switzerland, where he now lives.
For his $1 million donation, the MacBain Community Centre on Montrose Rd. is named after his deceased parents Al, who died in 2003, and Viola, who died in 1999.
He shocked fundraisers for FACS with his donation last year, which accounted for three-fourths of the agency's $1 million fundraising drive.
The $3.4-million project broke ground in June 2010, and opened a year later. The new section boasts themed meeting rooms for families, new indoor and outdoor play areas, increased privacy and counseling facilities. The original 540-square-metre building is now reserved for staff.
Ann Godfrey, FACS director of development, says the larger facility can now act as a median for families who live in St. Catharines and Fort Erie, and will better serve families going through emotional turmoil.
Each year, FACS provides support to more than 1,500 families and foster care to about 540 children.
"Part of the skill of our staff is to engage with people, understand and be empathetic to the emotions that they're feeling," she says. "Never for a minute would we underestimate the drama families would feel meeting to have this kind of service."
While donors toured the inside of the building Friday, a protest was held outside.
About 15 members of Voices of Children's Alliance — which wants to reform Children's Aid Societies in Ontario — picketed during the afternoon as part of a province-wide series of rallies.
Advocator Chris Carter said he had a bitter experience with a children's aid society during his divorce, and believes the agencies have too much power in Ontario when it comes to taking children away from their natural parents.
"We're trying to raise public awareness of the need for accountability and transparency in regards to the actions of children's aid societies," he said. "Basically we're the only province in Canada that has children's aid societies doing child protection. In the other provinces (that) is done exclusively by a government ministry."
Source: Welland Tribune
The real news:
Pat Niagara Rally for Accountability and Transparency
Friday, September 23 · 12:30pm - 5:30pm
Niagara Falls, Canada
Groups from all Over Ontario attended the Niagara Falls Children's Aid Society Rally.
To spite the rain 27-30 people attended. Police also attended the rally, by the time we got to Facs Niagara members of the Niagara Regional Police had arrived shortly before us and had parked just down the street. Some staff from Facs Niagara did come out and talk to a few people who had been having problems with Niagara CAS. Niagara CAS staff did answer some of the concerns and even offered to help a few people out at a later date. The staff even offered the members and supporters to come inside and take a tour of the building and have something to eat. All in All it was a great day for everyone.
*Facs Niagara did open the door to a meeting with Canada Court Watch members this coming Wednesday to go over some of the concerns within the FACS Niagara, and hats off to them for doing so.
**Again we all believe there is a need for Children Protection in Ontario, but we also believe FACS and all CAS must work harder on keeping families together and working with them to resolve this problems and only removing a child as a last resort.
-=Video will be coming soon=-
Dog Attacks Social Worker
September 23, 2011 permalink
A dog attacked Ohio social worker Ron James while he was visiting a home to check on the children.
Pit bull attacks CPS worker
Man sustains injuries to face, arm
MILLER — A worker from Lawrence County Child Protective Services was injured on the job when a dog attacked him Thursday afternoon.
Ron James was checking on the welfare of children in a household in Miller when the animal, a pit bull mix, attacked him around 2 p.m., Sheriff Jeff Lawless said.
James, who sustained injuries to his arm and face, sought medical attention at a hospital but was not taken by ambulance, Lawless said.
The dog warden was called and the dog will likely be quarantined while officials determine if the animal has had vaccinations, the sheriff said.
The sheriff said there is a possibility that the owners will face criminal charges, either for the well-being of the children or for the dog attack.
Source: Ironton Tribune
September 22, 2011 permalink
Esther Buckareff has posted an email from the OACAS to all the higher-ups in Ontario's children's aid societies.
The OACAS is worried about Powerful As God, worried enough to send an email to all of the higher-ups in Ontario's children's aid societies. Virginia Rowden outlines the issues discussed in the documentary and some others raised by anti-CAS groups.
The biggest concern seems to be the call for ombudsman oversight. Rather than correct the CAS policies criticized in the movie, the OACAS is moving to take action against Esther through her school, Ryerson. There is mention of other issues raised by alert opponents. Does CAS buy insurance against liability, or life insurance on its own wards? What happens to criminal injuries compensation for its wards?
The email contains the mystifying statement: "The issue of anti-CAS groups continues to be a topic of conversation for the provincial network groups." Fixcas has not come across the term provincial network groups before.
Esther Buckareff posted a copy of the email on the blakout.ca site, after deleting the name, or names, of CAS opponents.
CAS Response to Documentary *** Internal Email ***
Date: 9/19/2011 6:50:40 PM
Subject: Blakout and other anti-CAS Activities – brief update
TO: All CAS Board Presidents, Executive Directors, Directors of Service, Senior Counsel, Communications Leads, HR Managers, Executive Assistants
CC: OACAS Board of Directors, Staff
A brief update on some of the anti-CAS activities ..
The blakout.ca video was posted on Saturday September 17th. It may be helpful for at least one staff in each CAS management group to review the video and, if appropriate send me your comments. (note: it is about 80 minutes in length). The video includes approximately 25 participants including clinical professionals, clients, former staff, lawyers and politicians as the voices raising concerns about CASs. I did provide a “heads-up” email to the dozen CASs which are referenced in the video and/or have speakers from their communities.
In general, the messages in the video include concerns about power of CASs, funding (formula tied to children in care), vulnerability of clients, concerns from parents who have had children taken from them, concerns from adoptive parents where the adoption probation did not proceed, and staff and consultants who are critical of their former agencies. The closing segment focuses on the private member’s bill to give power to the Ombudsman.
OACAS has had one discussion with the Office of the President at Ryerson, and will be scheduling a follow-up meeting with a group of deans in the next few weeks. Concerns included the website, background materials and the trailer for the video – lack of balance and the inaccuracies.
[deleted] contacted OACAS today (September 20) with a series of questions about CAS insurance, coverage for Crown wards, Criminal Injuries Compensation. I advised that I did not have the information. Additional questions focussed on the Broader Public Sector Accountability Act and lobbying, with a question as to whether OACAS would be prohibited from lobbying under the Act (response was that not-for-profit in-house lobbying was permitted). Also asked if OACAS Board meetings were open and when our AGM is. [deleted] asked about a meeting with OACAS to express concerns. [deleted] may be back with something more specific.
[deleted] continues to post on their website, today with demands for a meeting with Chatham Kent CAS as alternative to what surely will be a campaign blitzkrieg.
Common themes across all campaigns are the call for Ombudsman oversight of CASs and a requirement for all CAS workers to be members of the College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers. There are key messages in past issues notes, please let me know if you need more.
The issue of anti-CAS groups continues to be a topic of conversation for the provincial network groups. I will try to provide an update on their discussions later this week.
Please advise if you receive calls from the media, if you need any assistance with messaging or if you wish to offer advice.
Director, Policy and Mentor to the YouthCAN Program Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies
Source: Esther Buckareff
Chris Carter says he contacted OACAS on September 20. The [deleted] was really [Canada Court Watch - Chris Carter] . [deleted] continues to post on their website likely refers Canada Court Watch. See Escape from CAS.
Based on a Facebook discussion, "[deleted] continues to post on their website" is about NADADS and Dave Flook. And Esther Buckareff corrects an error of fact in the Rowden email:
Esther Buckareff The letter's reference to the adoptive parents is incorrect. Mr. Hickey's returning the child to CAS had nothing to do with the probation period and he has legal documentation from hearings that took place following the incident. The adoptive parents returned the child because the grandmother wanted her grandchild and CAS failed to tell the adoptive parents that. When CAS recieved the child back, they accused the adoptive parents of being "uncooperative" and placed the child into an abusive home against a court order. The claim against the adoptive parents was proven false in the hearings. The grandmother never got custody of her grandchild. The child was found on the streets in Orange County California and adopted out through the child welfare agency there.
Addendum: Here is word on the outcome of the CAS complaint to Ryerson.
The CAS made a formal complaint to the President's Office at Ryerson a few months ago. After several meetings with the University, the CAS' "minimum demand" was that a disclaimer be put on the film (and the website) stating something like, 'The opinions expressed in this work do not reflect the opinions of Ryerson University.' The University Deans held some kind of academic meeting where they voted against complying with this request, which they then conveyed to the CAS. After the vote, the Dean of Journalism stood up and clapped, he expressed how proud he was of his colleagues for taking a stand on this issue.
September 21, 2011 permalink
Tim Hortons is selling smile cookies for a dollar each, donating the proceeds to a local charity. One of the charities getting the money is Family & Children Services - Niagara Falls. Good reason to get your next meal at McDonald's. Photo of Tim Hortons poster. Click on the image above to get the correct expression for the foster cookie.
Source: Tim Hortons
September 20, 2011 permalink
New York parents Nephra Payne and Shanel Nadal have abducted eight of their children from foster care, a new record. Since eight children are difficult to hide, the police will likely be snatching them back soon.
Cops hunt mom & dad who stole 8 kids from protective agency
A Manhattan mom and dad snatched their eight children, all who are in foster care, during a scheduled visit at a child agency in Queens, authorities said.
Shanel Nadal, 28, took her seven boys and a baby girl from a supervised visit on Monday at 4 p.m. at the Forestdale child agency on 112th Street, near 67th Street in Forest Hills. The agency is a contractor of ACS.
Nadal is believed to have fled with the kids and the children's father and Nephra Payne, 34, in a black 1996 Chevrolet Suburban license plate with the number #EXZ5896. Police are not sure how she was able to get the kids into the car.
All of the boys are named Nephra Payne, and have different middle names. The girl is 11 months old, and named Nefertiti. The oldest child is 11, according to cops.
The parents live in the Manhattanville housing developments on Amersterdam Avenue, near West 131st Street, and Manhattan Family Court has issued warrants for their arrests.
Source: New York Post
Addendum: Caught after six days.
Police: Couple who abducted 8 kids from foster care found
New York (CNN) -- A couple accused of kidnapping their eight children from foster care in New York last week have been apprehended.
Shanel Nadal and the biological father of the children were taken into custody in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, on Monday evening, police said.
The pair awaits extradition to New York. Harrisburg police would not release any information on the whereabouts of the children or their conditions.
Nadal, 28, fled with her seven sons and one daughter from a Queens facility after an authorized visit on September 19, police said.
The abducted boys are all named after their biological father, Nephra Payne, 34.
They are Nephra Payne, 11; Nephra Ceo Payne, 10; Nephra John Payne, 9; Nephra Shalee Payne, 6; Nephra Rahsul Payne, 6; Nephra Umeek Payne, 5; and Nephra Yahmen Payne, 4.
The lone girl was identified as Nefertiti Payne, 11 months.
A statement from the New York City's Administration for Children's Services at the time made no mention of how Nadal escaped or why the children had been placed in foster care.
The parents were convicted of kidnapping and sentenced to time served, two months. Here is an interview after release.
EXCLUSIVE: Parents Who Abducted 8 Kids From Queens Foster Care Tell Their Story
NEW YORK (CBS 2) — The parents who snatched their eight children from foster care in Queens are speaking out. The couple, who set off a nationwide manhunt, beat the charges after spending two months behind bars.
On Tuesday, they spoke with CBS 2′s Christine Sloan in an exclusive interview to let people know why they did it.
“How do you kidnap your own children?” asked Shanel Nadal.
That’s what Nadal and her husband, Nephra Payne, were accused of doing — stealing their eight biological children from a foster care facility in Queens.
“I did nothing wrong. I love my babies so much. They’re all I got in this world, nothing else matters,” Nadal said.
The Hollywood-like escape set off a nationwide manhunt that ended in Harrisburg, Pa., when federal agents descended on their van.
It all began a week earlier when the couple, knowing all of their children would be together in one place during a planned, unsupervised visit, decided to snatch them.
“We went straight out of the front of the agency,” Nadal said.
They didn’t have much of a plan after that. They drove to South Carolina, hoping to stay with family. Then they went to Pennsylvania while spending a week on the run.
“I did that for my babies,” Nadal said.
The couple claims some of their sons were being physically, as well as sexually, abused in foster care. They said they had no choice and had to protect them.
“Me and my wife was there — we created them and I felt that was our personal responsibility,” Payne said.
The Administration for Children’s Services wouldn’t comment on the abuse allegations and said it received no complaints. The children were put into foster care in 2009 so it could investigate allegations of abuse against the couple, according to the agency.
Sloan: “Did you hurt those children?”
Nadal: “Did nothing but love our children — like really love them.”
Payne said ACS took their kids after a simple trip to the emergency room came as a result of two of their children getting into a fight.
“I felt they’re kidnapping my children and there is nothing I can do,” Nadal said.
But the couple said they would do it again. They said the seven days they were reunited with their children were “beautiful.”
“They kept kissing me…that was all I needed,” Nadal said.
In the end, the feds tracked them down through their credit cards. They spent more than two months in jail, but it could have been life. Now that they’re out, they said they just want custody of their kids.
“They can take everything in the world away — just give me my babies back. That’s all I need and then I will have my light back,” Nadal said.
The couple will be in court on Dec. 15 to try and get visitation rights back and eventually, their attorney said, full custody. For now, they remain in foster care.
Source: CBS New York
September 18, 2011 permalink
An article in online magazine SLAW.ca reports on the opening of the family courts, and the advance screening of Powerful As God. The article takes the view presented by justices Heather Smith and Warren Winkler that there is a big problem in family law: It is so expensive that families cannot avail themselves of its benefits.
This shows just how out of touch the legal profession really is. People are not asking for more family law, but less. Only a small part of the antagonistic litigation is initiated by family members with genuine grievances. Most comes when outsiders intervene in a family, creating probems that can only be resolved with legal help, legal help that is unavailable to most on account of cost. Interventions come from social workers removing children, from police carrying out obligatory arrests in even the most frivolous domestic disturbance calls, and from lawyers who engender animosity between couples wishing to separate amicably. Getting rid of these unnecessary interventions would eliminate most family litigation, and is what families really want from legal reforms.
Family Law Profiled at Opening of the Ontario Courts
On Tuesday, September 13, 2011 the Opening of the Courts was held in Toronto, preceded by an interfaith service at Church of the Holy Trinity. The service consisted of a fascinating mix of a number of readings, including a South African anti-Apartheid song (and dance). I couldn’t help but think that this would have been impossible a couple decades ago.
But attendees were surprised by a protest outside of the church as soon as the services completed. A video of the protest is available here, with one of the speakers saying,
We’re going to be here every single year.
At least some of the protesters appeared to be representing a website called Canada Court Watch, with their primary grievances focusing on family law. The judiciary hardly seemed insensitive to the plight of family law litigants, although choosing not to engage the protesters directly. The remarks by Chief Justice Heather Smith stated,
For several years now, I have targeted a significant portion of my Opening of the Courts remarks to family law proceedings in our court. My remarks included cautious optimism along with a fervent wish for faster progress towards our ultimate goal.
Similarly, the remarks by Chief Justice Warren Winkler stated,
The Governor General of Canada, His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, observed in his address to the Bar Association that, “for many today, the law is not accessible.”
Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin, who has taken a leading role in publicizing this issue, said that access to justice was the “greatest challenge facing the Canadian justice system.”
If we are to make meaningful progress in addressing this issue, we must concentrate on areas of law where we can have the greatest impact. We should prioritize those areas with the greatest societal need and where concrete change is achievable. Analysed in this fashion, family law cries out for reform.
Family law touches directly or indirectly almost everyone in our society. Our current family law system is too slow, too complex, too adversarial, and above all, too costly. There is no other area of justice reform where we can have a greater impact on ordinary Ontarians.
Some improvements in family law services have been made over the last year. I commend the Ministry of the Attorney General for its role in extending information, mediation and referral services to courts across the Province.
These are welcome changes, but much more must be done if we are going to make significant improvements in access to justice for families in transition.
If real progress is going to be made there must be a fundamental reformation of family law. In order to make family law more accessible, it must be more affordable. To achieve this, the procedures must be simplified and unnecessary steps removed thus shortening the process and making it cheaper. This will allow families to resolve their disputes in a more efficient and affordable manner, assisting them to more effectively move on with their lives.
In order to clear the way for the type of comprehensive reform that I believe necessary and have spoken about frequently, we have to extend the unified family court beyond the current 17 sites to the entire Province.
Change is needed in the family law system, and if these protesters are any indication, this change is needed sooner rather than later.
One step that members of the bar have taken to help address this in a more independent fashion is to provide accurate and timely information to members of the public about family law. This week also featured the television launch of Family Matters with Justice Harvey Brownstone, a show that both Connie and I have mentioned that was previously carried online but is now aired through mainstream television broadcasters. The show is the first television show in the world hosted by a sitting judge. Quebec is also launching a family show featuring a local family lawyer.
I was also invited this week to an advance screening of an independent documentary, Blakout. Family law appears high on the agenda for residents of Ontario, and it will be interesting to see how prominently it features in the upcoming provincial election. Whichever party does come out front should make it a priority to heed the calls for reformation from both the public and the respective heads of our judiciary.
Money Under the Table
September 17, 2011 permalink
Since bearing children for money is not legal in Canada, actual practice it to compensate surrogate mothers with paper bags full of money under the table. Any chance the same practice prevails in adoption?
Secret truth behind Canada’s baby market
It takes a confident lawyer with decades of arranging surrogate-mother contracts to confirm what some fear is the secret truth about the emerging state of child-bearing by proxy: “I’m not naïve,” said Larry Kahn, a Richmond, B.C., family law specialist in adoptive and reproduction issues. “Do I think there is a brown paper bag being delivered or a secret handful of cash? Absolutely.”
Recent cases of unforeseen consequences and the increasing discomfort in some quarters about the commercialization of making babies — legally banned in Canada — are highlighting the grey areas of surrogacy, a practice dating back to antiquity but with the modern incarnation of a possibly reimbursed stranger replacing the slave girl as birth mother for women incapable of having their own child.
Cathleen Hachey, a 20-year-old New Brunswick woman who acted as a surrogate for a British couple she connected with online, was shocked to get a text message this summer from the would-be parents announcing that their marriage had dissolved and they would not be returning to Canada to collect the twins the woman had been carrying on their behalf for more than six months.
This month, a Saskatchewan judge ruled that a surrogate mother who gave birth to a baby girl on behalf of a gay couple was not actually the child’s “mother,” so that the child’s birth certificate would reflect the intention of the three parties and their surrogacy arrangement.
And last year, the National Post reported a case of a British Columbia couple that wanted their surrogate to undergo an abortion — after it was discovered the child would likely be born with Down syndrome — and the surrogate objected. The stalemate was broken when the surrogate decided to have the abortion, partly because of her own family obligations.
These stories, as individual as they are, show all is not perfect with the surrogacy status quo despite the more common experience, stories populated with happy couples raising children that are genetically related to one or both of them despite their inability to do so naturally.
The social, legal and regulatory infrastructures are clearly struggling to catch up with the modern reality of making babies.
Mr. Kahn’s candour on quiet payments in surrogacy arrangements will do nothing to mute the clamour for stricter regulation and control by surrogacy critics.
Neither will revelations from Assisted Human Reproduction Canada (AHRC), the federal agency created to monitor the fertility laws, that more than 20 alleged violations of the act have been investigated, most related to payment for surrogacy and purchase of gametes from a donor.
“Most such issues are resolved through outreach and cooperation at the initial stage of its review,” said Benoît Martel, agency spokesman.
Four allegations were forwarded to police but no charges have been laid to date. The case of the jilted New Brunswick surrogate is being added to their caseload for review, he said, even though her story had a happy ending: She found a Nova Scotia couple wishing to adopt the twins.
As a lawyer, Mr. Kahn handles dozens of surrogacy agreements each year, a caseload he has seen grow steadily over more than 30 years.
In a perfect world, all surrogates would be altruistic women motivated only by a drive to help a childless couple, he said. The reality is that pregnancy is an ordeal. How many would go through it and get nothing in return?
Mr. Kahn is quite certain financial arrangements outside the official signed contracts he and other family law attorneys prepare are being made under the table in many, perhaps most, cases.
Such private arrangements appear to contravene the Assisted Human Reproduction Act, enacted in 2004.
The act specifies activities that Parliament deemed “ethically unacceptable or incompatible with Canadian values,” including human cloning and the kinds of genetic activities that inhabit science fiction novels and horror films.
Among the banned activities, however, are the purchasing, offering to purchase, or advertising payment for sperm, eggs or for the services of a surrogate mother.
It is designed, according to AHRC’s website, to “prevent the ‘commercialization’ of human reproduction in Canada… Surrogate mothers are currently allowed to be reimbursed for legitimate expenses they may incur.”
Debate over what is a legitimate expense arose immediately. Can a couple — with a nudge and a wink — buy a surrogate a new Lincoln Navigator because they want their fetus well protected on the road? Could a surrogate quit her job to stay rested and stress-free and have the intended parents reimburse the salary?
“It is a no-man’s land,” said Mr. Kahn.
Adding to the confusion, last year the Supreme Court of Canada ruled much of the act unconstitutional, but upheld the section that restricts payments. The split has done little to end confusion. Almost a year later, the government is still reviewing the decision, said Mr. Martel.
Diane Allen of the Infertility Network support group said she is aware of a “black and grey market” in surrogacy in Canada.
“Undoubtedly, there are financial arrangements,” she said. “It goes on online. It goes on with the tacit or overt support by some fertility clinics and some of those involved who earn their living by doing this,” she said.
She is astounded with the lack of scrutiny over surrogacy in comparison to arrangements for transfering a kidney, for example.
“Surrogacy, no matter how you dress it up, apart from a few exceptional cases of altruism, is a commercial trade. In the end, it is an exchange of money for a baby. Society is opposed to the selling of babies through foreign adoptions and against trafficking in women and the slave trade, but because doctors are involved, this is given legitimacy.
“We’re talking about human life here and it is treated as a manufacturing process,” said Ms. Allen.
She wants AHRC to crack down: “We have this void, and when we have a void, people rush to fill it.”
AHRC’s Mr. Martel said the agency is active and vigilant in response to allegations of breaches of the act. But laying charges is out of the agency’s hands: “A prosecution for an offence requires the consent of the Attorney General of Canada,” he said.
Anyone looking at the arrangements can see how they might be fraught with emotional and legal twists.
One can imagine a surrogate mother changing her mind once she is holding the glistening baby that emerged from her womb and refusing to give it up. One can imagine overbearing intended parents trying to micromanage a surrogate’s life while she is pregnant.
And in the netherworld of how the surrogate is reimbursed, there are bound to be the kind of disputes that arise in any commercial transaction.
While Mr. Kahn confirms one perception of surrogate deals, he debunks another.
“There are no cases in Canada of a surrogate trying to keep the baby that required a decision by a judge,” he said. There have been some cases of reluctance that needed mediation, and a case that went to court but was resolved prior to a decision, but no irreconcilable differences, he said.
He has had clients that disagreed over the amount of medical information a surrogate is willing to share, for instance, and a difference of opinion on whether the intended parents can be present in the delivery room at the birth.
He knows of a case where the surrogate wanted to stay at the Four Seasons while attending medical appointments and the intended parents who were paying the bill were booking the Holiday Inn.
They are problems, Mr. Kahn said, the marketplace and legal contracts can sort out without too much government involvement.
“How much can government regulate human nature? If you have a couple who can’t have children, you are going to have an inevitable push,” he said.
But leaving things for the market to sort out can lead to other problems, as in countries where surrogacy has been gripped by rampant commercialism.
In the United States, surrogacy is less regulated than used car sales, David Plotz, editor of Slate and author of The Genius Factory, recently wrote in an online debate hosted by the New York Times.
“Conservatives, skeptical of regulation, were glad to leave fertility alone, and let it grow into a profitable marketplace. Liberals, normally fond of regulation, were leery of doing anything to dictate women’s reproductive choices. The result was an open field,” he argued.
“This willingness to try anything made the American fertility business the liveliest in the world. More regulation — necessary as it is — will diminish that capitalist energy.”
Perhaps something like Canada.
Source: National Post
No Defense Allowed
September 17, 2011 permalink
While lawyers representing the crown bill £1 million to wreck a family, anyone in the capacity of lawyer or friend trying to defend the family is summarily ejected from the courtroom.
Couple denied legal help while lawyers make £1m removing their children
Their English is poor, they are reduced to tears by their inability to understand what is going on in court, yet they are denied help in presenting their case.
Ever more disturbing becomes that particular case of children snatched from distraught parents that I have written about here more than any other. Dozens of times in the past 18 months this couple have been in court, trying to challenge the extraordinary allegations made against them by social workers. Yet, although their English is poor and they have regularly been reduced to tears by their inability to understand what is going on in court, they have again and again been denied help in presenting their case.
Last Christmas, I paid £2,000 to one law firm to represent them until legal aid was arranged. But the Legal Services Commission turned down their application and the lawyer walked off the case. Ian Josephs, a successful businessman who runs the Forced Adoption website, paid £3,500 to another solicitor, who also walked off the case having done nothing. In February, when the couple wished to be assisted by Paul Randall-Joliffe as a McKenzie friend, he was thrown out of the court after apparently asking too many provocative questions.
On July 21, Mr Josephs, who has a law degree and has aided many families in family courts as a McKenzie friend, flew over from France to assist the mother, but was brusquely evicted from the court by Mr Justice Mostyn without any of the explanation required under court guidelines. (Mr Josephs’ complaint about this is being considered by the Office of Judicial Complaints.) Sabine McNeill, an expert IT consultant who had applied to assist the father, was treated likewise.
Oddest of all, on September 8, when Maurice Kirk appeared in court to assist, in front of yet another judge new to the case, the solicitor for the children’s guardian alleged that Mr Kirk was secretly recording the proceedings and furthermore that he was not Mr Kirk but Mr Randall-Joliffe, who had already been excluded from the court when she was present. I am told that the judge therefore ordered Mr Kirk’s arrest and he was marched off to a police cell. Here he had no difficulty in proving to the bemused policemen both his true identity and that he had no recording equipment with him, and was released. But yet again this meant the hapless couple were allowed no one to help them in their battle to win back their children, one of whom they have not been allowed to see for over a year.
Meanwhile, at taxpayers’ expense, the bill for three teams of barristers and solicitors, representing the council, the guardian and the children, may well have run to over £1 million. Truly our family courts all too often stand all the fondly-imagined principles of British justice on their head.
Source: Telegraph (UK)
I Will Fucking Kill You
September 17, 2011 permalink
That's what a Batshaw Youth and Family Centres employee said to a man trying to take a picture of her car in public. She confirmed her intent to kill when questioned. The blurb and video link are enclosed, in case it disappears from YouTube, here is our local copy (flv).
On June 7th 2011 I'm peacefully demonstrating outside the Batshaw Youth and Family Centers (Child Protection Services / CPS/ DYP/ DPJ) located at 4515 St. Catherine Street west 514-935-6196, Montreal, Quebec, Canada - when I'm suddenly accosted (pushed, assaulted and my life is threatened) by a Batshaw Youth and Family Center "CPS" Employee - who says to me "I'LL F'ING KILL YOU" (this while PURSUING ME 20+ more FEET - physically attacking me) and then she responds "YES"... after I ask her if she is really going to kill me - all clearly heard on this video........... . WOULD YOU TRUST THIS BATSHAW WORKER ANYWHERE NEAR YOUR CHILD/ FAMILY?
Imagine... I'm only there demonstrating my discontent regarding the manner in which Batshaw appears to be administering my child's file (falsifying and altering Quebec provincial Government / protected documents/ records; fabricating evidence; committing perjury at the Youth Court by inventing / testifying about things that never ever happened) - (WHICH HAS THRUST ME AND MY BABY INTO A WORLD OF CHAOS AND HAS HAD THE EFFECT OF OBSTRUCTING ME FROM LOVING & BONDING WITH MY 16 MONTH OLD CHILD)... .
Everyone knows that Child/ Youth Protection is greatly needed in SOCIETY (this to protect the children) .... but to do so in a manner so as to blatantly disrespect Canadian Law and then cause serious grief to children, parents & families (by doing the exact opposite of what they are mandated by law to do)... seemingly because of a very big interest in PROFIT - vs - a very small and very limited interest in protecting any child? THIS IS COMPLETELY WRONG.
This video clearly shows what little respect Batshaw / Youth Protection / DYP/ DPJ has for Human Rights, the Law and the very children & families they are legally mandated to provide AID - ASSISTANCE & COUNSELING to......
WE THE FAMILIES, PARENTS, CHILDREN, RELATIVES & "SOCIETY AS A WHOLE" STAND TOGETHER AND UNITED IN OUR "EXPOSING" the BATSHAW YOUTH AND FAMILY CENTERS - "CPS" IN MONTREAL, QUEBEC CANADA - WHO IS CLEARLY OUT OF CONTROL - USING OUR HARD EARNED TAX DOLLARS TO RIP APART AND DESTROY CHILDREN, PARENTS AND THEIR ENTIRE FAMILIES!!! AND ALL FOR $$ PROFIT $$! - Enough is enough Mr. Manuel (Manny) G. Batshaw! - ENOUGH IS ENOUGH MANNY. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!
Addendum: As of September 2012, guess who is in legal hot water in this incident? It's not the social worker. The man who posted the recording, John Ranger, is being sued by Batshaw. What is the suit about? Nobody can say. Gag order.
Addendum: John Ranger wants to correct the account of the incident here. He was not filming the worker's car, but using the camera a part of a peaceful protest. When he approached the worker sitting in her car she thought he was aiming at her license plate.
Oh and by the way: In your write up about that girl who threatened my life outside Batshaw. I WAS NOT OUT THERE TAKING PICS OF HER LICENSE PLATE. I WAS OUT THERE PEACEFULLY PROTESTING AND I NOTICED THAT SHE WAS FILMING ME FROM HER CAR. I ONLY WENT OVER AND SIMPLY WANTED TO PASS BY HER CAR just to see if she was filming me - BUT SHE JUMPED OUT OF HER CAR, ACCOSTED ME, ASSAULTED ME, THREATENED TO KILL ME AND TRIED TO STEAL MY CELLPHONE FROM ME.
I WAS "NOT" FILMING HER LICENSE PLATE......... ALTHOUGH AFTER I VIEWED THE VIDEO, I CAN UNDERSTAND WHY IT WOULD SEEM LIKE THAT. **I AM A HUMAN RIGHTS INVESTIGATOR. I FILM THE THINGS WHICH I KNOW I WILL NEED THEREAFTER. ITS ONLY COMMON THAT HER LICENSE PLATE WOULD FIGURE INTO THE VIDEO, SINCE SHE WAS SITTING IN HER CAR AND I WAS WALKING UP ON THE SIDEWALK - FROM THE BACK OF THE CAR.
Source: John Ranger, private communication December 18, 2012
September 17, 2011 permalink
Lily Choy has been found guilty again in the death of her foster child in 2007. It took three years to find out her name, the name of her dead ward is still a state secret. Following an enclosed news story is an editorial suggesting this kind of trial is just theater, a substitute for real child care. Deflecting the blame to the hapless Lily Choy ensures that the bureaucrats who operate the dysfunctional system in which deaths are inevitable will not be held to account. Ontario has topped Alberta in this area. After the death of Matthew Reid in a Welland foster home, a mentally defective teenaged girl was convicted of murder.  . Quite possibly, the girl could not understand what was happening to her, and with her name secret, there is no way for the public to know what if anything about her life changed in consequence of the conviction.
Foster mom guilty in death of boy
EDMONTON - Edmonton nurse Lily Choy has been found guilty of manslaughter for causing a three-year-old boy who was a foster child in her care to suffer a deadly brain injury.
It is the second time the 37-year-old foster mom was convicted of manslaughter in the 2007 death as a result of the Court of Appeal of Alberta ordering a new trial.
In a three-hour decision delivered Wednesday, Court of Queen's Bench Justice Donna Read ruled Choy had “caused the death” by assaulting the boy, but said she had a reasonable doubt over whether she intended it.
As a result - despite her “grave suspicions” - Read found Choy not guilty of second-degree murder, but guilty of the lesser offence of manslaughter.
Following the decision, the boy's father and aunt angrily stormed out of the courtroom, and there were loud expressions of disbelief by people in the public gallery.
City homicide Det. Bill Clark, who interviewed Choy after the death, said he was “very surprised” by the ruling.
“In my opinion, this is a woman without remorse,” Clark said outside the downtown Law Courts building.
“It was a vicious attack on a three-year-old boy.”
Choy hugged her supporters after the decision and was expected to walk out of the courtroom after being granted bail pending her Oct. 17 sentencing hearing.
However, court sheriffs took her into the cells adjoining the courtroom to speak to her lawyer and then escorted her to an unknown area so she could leave the building.
Clark took exception to that and criticized one of the sheriffs for giving Choy “special treatment.”
During the trial, which began April 4, court heard police were called to Choy's west-end home Jan. 26, 2007, after the boy was taken to Stollery Children's Hospital suffering from serious head trauma. He died in hospital the next day as a result of a fatal brain injury, which was later determined to be caused by blunt force trauma.
Choy testified in her own defence the boy had been “frantic” and “screaming,” and she had carried him to a downstairs bathroom where she said he had hit his head on the toilet after she fell over as a result of him hitting her.
Read rejected Choy's evidence, calling it “incredible” and saying she did not believe her.
The judge also rejected the defence expert witnesses while accepting the Crown's medical evidence that the boy had suffered a deadly brain injury as a result of “abusive head trauma” involving “severe force.”
As well, Read ruled that she accepted that Choy had spanked the boy, causing bruising on his buttocks, she had forced him to walk up and down stairs late at night for exercise, and had placed him in a frigid garage in only his diaper as punishment for wetting the bed.
In 2008, a jury convicted Choy of manslaughter after a five-week trial and three days of deliberations. She was sentenced to three years in prison.
But she was granted bail two months into her sentence pending cross appeals by both the Crown and defence.
A new trial was ordered last year after a three-judge panel ruled the trial judge had erred in the way he urged the deadlocked jury in the case to reach a verdict.
Source: Toronto Sun
Simons: Jailing foster parents who kill only provides illusion of justice
System that put boy and three other high-needs children in Lily Choy’s care must bear much of the responsibility
EDMONTON - Lily Choy probably didn’t set out to be a killer.
Of that, at least, I’m pretty sure.
In late 2006, when she first became a foster parent, she was a single mom of 32, raising two young children. She was also a registered nurse.
Back then, the province was experiencing a particularly dire shortage of foster homes.
Between 2005 and 2007, at the height of the boom, the Edmonton region experienced a nine-per-cent increase in children in care — and a 15-per-cent drop in the number of regional foster homes. The problem was so severe that children in care were routinely being housed in cheap motels in industrial areas on the edge of the city, or placed in foster homes that were already well over their regulated capacity.
And so, at a time when the region was desperate to recruit new foster parents, Lily Choy signed up.
As a rookie, Choy was only supposed to be caring for two foster children at a time. Instead, within weeks of becoming a foster parent, Choy found her home “overloaded” — to use the official provincial term. At one point, she had four high-needs foster children, who ranged in aged from toddlers to young teens, in addition to her own kids, who were then eight and three.
One of the youngsters placed in her care was a three-year-old aboriginal boy, who, according the medical evidence, suffered from serious neurological problems likely caused by fetal alcohol syndrome. He wasn’t yet toilet trained, and reportedly resisted efforts to make him use the toilet. According to some witnesses, he had behavioural problems, including frequent tantrums.
In other words, he might have been an extremely challenging and emotionally exhausting child to look after, even for an experienced foster parent working one-on-one. For a brand new foster parent, who was caring, at the time, for five children? The placement was disastrous.
At two in the morning, on January 27, 2007, the boy, who cannot be named under the terms of the province’s Orwellian Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act, suffered a fatal blow to the head.
In 2009, an Edmonton jury found Choy guilty of manslaughter. She was sentenced to three years in jail. Both the Crown and the defence appealed, and Choy was granted a new trial, this time, before a judge alone. This week, Madame Justice Donna Read found her guilty of manslaughter.
Although the defence argued, at both trials, that the boy’s injuries were self-inflicted, Read found that the severity of the child’s brain damage, and the serious bruising all over his body, were more consistent with abuse. Although Read said she had “grave suspicions” about Choy’s conduct, she found there was not enough evidence of intent to kill find her guilty of second-degree murder.
Choy is to be sentenced Oct. 15. Unless there’s another appeal, her long journey to justice is almost over.
But while I don’t want to minimize or excuse Lily Choy’s terrible actions, she is not the only one to blame for the death of this child.
Our child care system determined, first, that Choy was a fit, responsible person to foster high-needs children, at least one of whom was developmentally disabled.
Next, it overloaded and overwhelmed her, with more hard-to-handle kids than almost anyone could manage.
Now, a little boy is dead. And Choy’s life, and her own family, have been shattered.
Because the court process has taken so long, there has not yet been a public fatality inquiry. The province has conducted an internal special case review, but the results have never been made public, and likely never will be. The department of Children and Youth Services has never been held accountable for breaking its own rules and putting in motion the chain of circumstances that led to this tragedy.
If this were an isolated case, it might be different. But between 2005 and 2010, four foster children from the Edmonton region, all of them aboriginal, were allegedly killed by their government-approved and appointed foster parents. Four foster child homicides in five years? You’d think there might be public outrage — but because we can’t ever name the children, or print their pictures, it’s hard to make those deaths resonate.
In 2008, in response to the Choy affair, the province did bring in new tougher rules about approving new foster homes, and about when homes are allowed to exceed their usual number of residents. And just last month, Children’s Services minister Yvonne Fritz committed to setting up an independent Council for Quality Assurance, parallel to the Health Quality Assurance Council, to investigate deaths or serious injuries of children within the child welfare system.
But we’re still not asking tough questions about whether our venerable system of voluntary foster parents, paid only a simple honorarium, still works in 2011. We’re not asking whether our decentralized child welfare system, which contracts out care to not-for-profit agencies, works well. We’re not addressing the hardest questions of all — about why 65 per cent of the children in care in the Edmonton region are aboriginal, and why so many of them end up dead.
Jailing foster parents who kill after the fact might give us an illusion of justice. But until we’re ready to have a serious conversation about making our child welfare system work, there will be no justice for the most vulnerable kids in our province’s care.
Source: Edmonton Journal
September 16, 2011 permalink
Here are some pictures:          and a video, YouTube and local copy (flv).
Pat Niagara Rally for public accountability in Brantford, Ontario was held on Sept 16, 2011. It started at the Brantford CA$, when we first got there people were coming and going from the building, not long after it stopped. After about three hours we had taken it to the streets at a main intersection near downtown. The day was successful in that we were able to educate a lot of younger people being a University town and also getting the CA$ to sneak people in and out the backdoor of the office.
Escape from CAS!
September 16, 2011 permalink
Canada Court Watch reports on a boy who ran away from CAS but was forcibly returned after CAS applied to a judge for a warrant. He escaped again and avoided CAS until reaching the age of 16 years. According to the law he is old enough to be safe from forcible return, but another case has been reported to fixcas of police returning an escaped ward over age 16.
Teen slams Chatham Kent CAS for abuse while in care
(Sept 15, 2011) Earlier this year a 15-year-old teen who had gone AWOL from the Chatham Kent CAS contacted Canada Court Watch to report how he and other children were being abused while in care of the CAS. Attached for downloading was a letter sent by the teen immediately after he went AWOL.
In spite of this teen's letter to the CAS simply asking that they stop abusing him and let him go back and live with his family, the Chatham Kent CAS maliciously obtained a secret warrant from the Chatham court to have the teen forced back to the CAS using Chatham Police as thugs to do their dirty work. Police raided the home where the child was safely residing and using force, took the child back to the CAS where he was abused even further for running away. A copy of the teen's letter to the judge who was fooled by CAS into giving the warrant will be posted soon.
All this teen wanted to do was to get out of CAS, go back and to live with family and to go back to school. In spite of this boy's reasonable requests, the Chatham Kent CAS spent thousands of tax dollars to mislead the court and to abuse police services in an attempt to punish this teen and to force the boy to live under the care of the CAS as a Ward of the Society.
The CAS workers involved in this case were as expected not registered with the Ontario College of Social Workers and working unlawfully.
Luckily this story had a good ending. After hiding out with his friends for over two months and evading police and CAS search teams, this teen finally won his hard earned freedom from the clutches of the Chatham Kent CAS. In August the teen turned 16 and the CAS finally gave up after spending thousands of tax dollars trying to catch the boy and to force him back to their care.
Attached is the letter the boy sent to the CAS when he first went AWOL. (local copy of letter, pdf)
Source: Canada Court Watch
Powerful As God
September 16, 2011 permalink
Esther Buckareff's documentary movie Powerful As God opened to an invitation-only audience of about a hundred people on September 15. Following the showing a panel of persons appearing in the movie answered questions from the audience. It is the most powerful document produced so far on the abuses committed by Ontario's children's aid societies. The movie is structured as a conversation between participants, moving from topic to topic. Persons shown range from parents and children separated by CAS to foster parents, a family lawyer and opposition MPP Rosario Marchese. Sadly, none of the people involved in running the child protection system, either at the agency or ministerial level, agreed to appear on camera.
The entire movie should become available for viewing on the internet on September 17 through Esther's website blakout.ca. The press release follows.
Media Advisory - Documentary Penetrates the Shroud of Secrecy Concerning Ontario's Children's Aid Societies
TORONTO, Sept. 15, 2011 /CNW/ - Media are invited to attend a closed screening of Powerful as God - The Children's Aid Societies of Ontario, on September 15, 2011, 7 p.m. at the Royal Cinema in Toronto, during the final week of TIFF.
Powerful as God reveals how the agency has wielded legislation, intended to protect vulnerable lives, as a weapon to tear communities apart and deflect from social and financial accountability with a public that enables it. This documentary also uncovers an urgent systemic matter, critically affecting the lives of thousands of children and families from every income, cultural and religious community in the province.
As an academic research work produced in the Documentary Media (MFA) program at Ryerson University, it incorporates thirteen experts (family lawyers from both sides, doctors, social workers, elected politicians) and thirteen witnesses (foster parents, group-home worker, natural parents, adopter, former foster children, etc.) from across Ontario who speak openly about their experience with the agency.
The director and witnesses will be in attendance to receive questions after the film. The film will be available for free to the public, through the website, www.blakout.ca on September 17, 2011.
Closed Screening Details:
- Powerful as God - The Children's Aid Societies of Ontario
- Esther Buckareff
- 75 min.
- Thursday, September 15, 2011, 7pm (doors open at 6:30pm)
- Royal Cinema , 608 College St. West, Toronto, Ontario
This is a closed screening to media and by invitation only.
To RSVP, please email email@example.com with your name, media affiliation and number of attendants.
For further information:
Addendum: A review by Robert Franklin:
Ontario Children’s Aid Society Shows the Error of Greater CPS Power
Those who argue for greater powers for child protection agencies to take children from parents should watch this video.
The last piece I posted quoted Arizona columnist Laurie Roberts urging CPS there to remove more children from parents in the misguided belief that doing so would help children. It’s true that, in the instances she cited from the past 19 years, it probably would have helped, but she’s not pretending that CPS can always know which child will be injured or killed and which one won’t be. So of necessity, Roberts’ argument is for more children to be taken from their parents.
We don’t need to imagine what this enormous expansion of CPS’s power to break up families might look like. We need only watch the linked-to video and see what’s happening in the Province of Ontario and its Children’s Aid Society.
The video is an hour and fifteen minutes long. It consists almost entirely of bits of interviews with various people. It’s an impressionistic approach and includes no pro-CAS voices. So the video isn’t a scientific inquiry into the behavior of Ontario CAS. It’s a litany of the experiences of the people interviewed.
But the variety of interviewees gives the piece definite heft. It’s not just a series of horror stories by parents who claim CAS violated their rights, although there are some of those. The people interviewed are also lawyers who’ve opposed CAS and those who’ve represented CAS in court. There are doctors and mental health professionals, many of whom used to work for CAS. There are social workers formerly with CAS and, most tellingly, there are adults who, as children, were taken from their parents and placed in foster care.
Like any good work of Impressionism, each individual part of the whole is insignificant, almost meaningless, but step back and the whole picture comes into focus. Unlike many works of Impressionism however, there’s nothing beautiful about the picture of CAS drawn by this video.
It’s a picture we’ve seen before. It’s a picture of an agency with very nearly unbridled power. Indeed, the title of the piece is “Powerful As God,” which you might think is a little over the top until, late in the film, you realize that it’s a direct quotation from a CAS case worker informing a desperate parent just what she was up against.
It’s all there and then some. There are the parents blinded by rage at their children being taken from them for no legitimate reason. There’s the IT Engineer who’s son was taken from him and his wife because their housecleaner reported an unclean house to CAS. And there’s the grandmother who tapped a teacher on the shoulder at school, was charged with assault and had her grandkids, of whom she had custody, taken from her. There’s the mom who says “I did nothing wrong.” There’s the mother who admits to cocaine use, but, after being clean for five years still couldn’t convince CAS to give her child back.
It’s no accident that CAS overreaches so dramatically. Money fuels the process. CAS is paid according to how many children it takes “into care,” i.e. from parents. Clearly enough, that establishes an incentive to do just that. After all, faced with leaving a child with its parents and losing money, or taking a child and making it, the choice isn’t difficult. And caseworkers are acutely aware that jobs depend on budgets, so when budgets depend on taking children from parents, well, you can guess what happens.
The subject of case workers is fraught with conflicting aims and motivations. To me, one of the most chilling moments comes early in the film when one mother describes CAS coming for her children and they were smiling. As she points out, what kind of person smiles when they do what should be one of the most heart-rending tasks imaginable?
On the other hand, a nurse who worked with CAS described seeing a social worker with the agency sitting at a table weeping because she didn’t see how she could continue doing a job that was so divorced from actual child well-being. The combination of the two - the smiling and the weeping case workers - says to me that, at CAS, the humane ones don’t last. The ones who do, smile when they come for your children.
Any parent who challenges CAS in court confronts a radical imbalance of power. Attorney Michael Clarke emphasizes that, alone among all agencies of government, CAS has the power of search and seizure, the ability to question children without their parents being present and, above all the power to take a parent’s child. Just how large a stick that is, he makes clear. Parents will do virtually anything CAS wants to avoid that outcome.
CAS often targets the poorest parents which means that when they get into court, the parent is usually unrepresented or has a public defender. Meanwhile, CAS has essentially unlimited resources of attorneys, mental health professionals and the money to pay them. It also has time on its side since, in most cases, children have been taken into care and it’s the parents who are trying to regain them.
Callie Langfeld is now an adult, but when she was a child, she was taken from her mother by CAS. She couldn’t tell her story then, but now she can. She says when CAS first talked to her, caseworkers “railroaded” her into care telling her how dangerous her family was. Once in foster care, though, Langfeld learned just how dangerous a family could be. She says she was sexually and physically abused, but when her real mother contacted CAS, she was told “there’s nothing we can do.”
Langfeld reports that her foster mother apparently wanted her for the work she could do around the house. At age 13, she did essentially all the housework including cooking and caring for the mother’s two younger children.
Another young man, George Gilbeau, reports physical and sexual abuse in the foster home in which CAS placed him.
Lawyers, children and parents alike report a particularly wicked strategy used by CAS to separate parents from children. Parents are told that their child doesn’t want to be with them; children are told that their parents don’t want them. Those messages, combined with the prohibition by CAS against any communication between parents and children can be highly effective at separating children from their parents.
I highly recommend this video. I’ll post more about it later.
Thanks to Attila for the heads-up.
Source: Fathers and Families
Children’s Aid Society: ‘Powerful as God’
There’s more to say about the video entitled “Powerful as God” on the Ontario Children’s Aid Society. That’s primarily because there’s a movement afoot, in Arizona at least, to vest still more power in child welfare agencies for the specific purpose of taking more children from families.
As I said in my previous piece, sometimes there’s a good reason to take children from parents. Some parents, sadly, are dangerous to their children, through either their abuse or neglect of them. But there’s also a reason why CPS agencies have, as part of their mandate, family reunification. That’s mainly because biological parents tend to be better parents than any other person or collection of people. A wealth of social science has shown that for decades.
So it’s worth seeing the reality of what people who urge greater family destruction by CPS are really arguing for. I don’t doubt that people like Laurie Roberts want children protected from harm. But their naive belief that ever more children consigned to foster care by overworked, underpaid and undertrained CPS workers will solve the problem is misguided at best.
And that’s just what the video documentary “Powerful as God” shows - the direction in which Roberts and others would have us go.
Like most bureaucratic institutions, Ontario’s CAS prefers to act in secrecy. It calls it “confidentiality,” and it justifies the curtain behind which it acts as necessary for the well-being of the children it takes into care. But, as one interviewee points out, the secrecy is far more for the protection of CAS and its case workers than for the children. After all, when a child is taken from a parent who’s done little or nothing wrong, and is turned over to a foster mother who tries to drown him, or one who sexually abuses her, CAS could look bad.
So secrecy serves to keep those cases from scrutiny by a public that might not understand the need to take the child in the first place. Of course, the better to recruit public sentiment to its side, CAS often ignores its rules about “confidentiality.” It does so when there’s a case that makes it look good and in those, it not only publicizes the case, it names names.
According to the video, a salient feature of CAS’s worldview is that of adversary, i.e. the bunker mentality of “us against the world.” Like the matter of secrecy, that mostly serves to protect the agency against questioning by irate parents, lawyers, judges and the like. Protection for children is secondary.
So, much of what CAS case workers do is with an eye toward possible litigation. And when that inevitably happens, CAS circles the wagons and defends its actions, whatever they may have been. A case in which a child’s welfare is involved then, becomes a case not of what’s best for the child, but one of how best to justify what CAS did or failed to do.
As Alfred Mamo, an attorney who has represented CAS in court, said, that process “has nothing to do with parenting.” What’s best for the children gets lost in the antagonism of legal charge and countercharge.
That concept of their jobs as part of permanent litigation against them and CAS leads, unsurprisingly, to illegal and unethical behavior on the part of case workers. One attorney said he’s “seen it too many times” that case workers have suppressed evidence and perjured themselves to defend their actions toward a child. “Cross examination to a case worker is like garlic to a vampire,” he said.
Inevitably, the implicit threat of lawsuits skews not only what case workers testify to, but how they conduct individual cases. Thus, a case worker may choose not to interview a particular person if she suspects that person won’t support what the case worker did or wants to do with a child. In that way, contradictory evidence never makes it into the child’s file. But of course that evidence also doesn’t make it into the case worker’s assessment of whether or not to take a child into care.
That absence of a concept of the child’s welfare carries over into all aspects of CAS’s day-to-day behavior. As one parent who was having trouble dealing with her ADHD child said, “No one ever asked ‘how can we help you?” The “solution” to all parenting problems is foster care.
And as lawyers, parents and former CAS case workers point out, that’s a curious approach to child welfare. One of the lawyers interviewed said that a foster parent in Ontario gets $30 a day for a child; that’s $900 a month. As several of the interviewees point out, maybe that money would be better spent helping parents deal with specific issues of childcare.
So maybe Parent A is struggling with an ADHD child. Why not connect that parent with a professional who can help? Could that be done for $900 a month? You bet it could, but CAS has one solution for every problem - foster care.
Of course there are cases of child injury and abuse that won’t be helped by that sort of intervention. There will always be a need for foster care. But Ontario CAS, like many similar institutions in the U.S., often errs on the side of family break-up rather than family unity. The point is that money spent on foster care could often be better spent to assist parents become better at the important job they’re trying to do.
After all, as former CAS social worker Tammis Smith said, the research showing that kids do better in foster care than in parental care is “missing.”
Misconceptions about what foster care really consists of abound. Many people believe that children taken into foster care go to healthy families with a mother and a father. Sometimes they do, but often they go to group homes in which many children are thrown together under the care, not of one set of parents, but of employees of the home.
One such former employee, Nick, said that group homes are strictly money-making operations. If one child goes back to its parents, that means a loss of income that must be made up by the addition of another child. Empty beds mean lost jobs and empty wallets.
Putting many unrelated children together can always lead to difficulties, but when many of those children have behavioral problems, a bad situation gets much worse. For that, the group homes have a handy solution - medication. One psychologist who used to work with CAS said that, in her experience, “almost every child in group homes” is on some sort of psychotropic medication.
“It’s all about control,” echoed Nick, the former group home worker.
What pretty much everyone in the video agrees on is that CAS should dispense with its self-protective secrecy and open its decision making to public scrutiny. That’s certainly a good idea. Public institutions that operate out of sight of the public that pays every cent of their operating budgets, invariably abuse the privilege, so greater openness is indeed required.
On that note, it’s interesting that one of Laurie Roberts’ pet peeves is that Arizona CPS refuses to turn over records in various cases to her or the Arizona Republic newspaper. In other words, it’s behaving the way any governmental institution cloaked in secrecy behaves. And rightly, Roberts is unhappy about it. Like any journalist, she thinks the public has the right to know what its servants are up to.
So it’s odd to say the least that she calls for more of the same - greater power for CPS to break up families would mean all the things the people in “Powerful as God” complain of, including greater secrecy. After all, CPS in Arizona wouldn’t want enraged parents going to a newspapers with their stories, now would it.
Source: Fathers and Families
Addendum: As part of her project Esther produced this thesis (pdf). One theme is the reluctance of functionaries of the child protection system to participate in the film. Esther dealt with this problem earlier in Camera Shy, expand for her thesis essay on the topic.
One of the greatest hurdles for conducting diligent research was overcoming barriers to critical information by Executives Directors whose agencies had been named by witnesses (and occasionally by experts) as causing grave injury to either the advocate, the children in care, or both. One such example was a request made to the College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers to supply a statistic of registered social workers employed by the CAS. A common grievance from witnesses was the incompetence of a social worker that damaged the witness’ or the child’s life by abusing their power. Subsequently, it was commonly held by witnesses that social workers employed by the CAS have no professional training in social work, and thus lack the professionalism that a trained social worker might exhibit. Employment listings by the CAS on job boards also supported this claim. To explore the validity of this theory, in mid-February 2011, an informal phone conversation with the College’s office manager was held. The manager, who also handles requests by the public to provide data from the register, helpfully explained that the register was kept in an off-line database managed by one IT professional, and that he would require two weeks to retrieve the statistic. Though the request required a mere sorting of the database tables and a printout, there was already a queue of requests for information by the public and that she, herself, would be on holiday for two weeks and could not follow up sooner. On March 23, 2011, when a call was placed to Glenda McDonald, the Executive Director and Registrar at the College, to follow up on an unrelated matter regarding an interview request to discuss the value of social workers in the workforce and the mandate of the College, Ms. McDonald responded by saying, “Oh, I know you. You asked the college to compile the number of registered social workers employed by the Children’s Aid. Well, I have that information but I’m not going to give it to you without more information on your project.” Ms. McDonald then expressed concern that the statistic would “be abused” and that she would have to think about whether or not to release it. After having the project information resent to her a second time, she clarified her statement regarding the statistic in an email,
Please be assured that I am not unwilling to release the information to you. However, it is my responsibility to ensure that it is as accurate as possible, conforms with the purpose of your research project and is released in accordance with College policies. Please be advised that the information has not yet been compiled and in accordance with College policy, only the Registrar can release this information.
The information was never provided and when a FIPPA request was made to the governing Ministry for the statistic, the request was returned as stating, “the ministry has determined access cannot be provided as the records do not exist.” Given the conversations with the office manager, followed by a conversation and correspondence with Ms. McDonald the Registrar, and knowing that a register containing social workers and their corresponding employers actually exists, by stating this data does not exist, both the Ministry and the College demonstrate either gross incompetence or they lied. In the film, lawyers who discuss the behaviour of CAS social workers express a similar opinion about their actions toward children and advocates, and their testimony in court. They are perceived as being liars, incompetent or both.
Given the degree of power these individuals exert over a subservient public, their actions contradict the democratic model of participation and collaboration when they hide behind a wall of secrecy and isolation. Subsequently, their actions often contradict the public’s best interests, and can be oppressive and damaging to human life. Not being elected members of government, the potential for the abuse of power without accountability is enormous; the time-frame for the abuse also transcends the short-term employment of their publicly elected bosses. Executive Directors of government agencies were contacted in the same way as the contributing experts, through an email with a description of the project and a request for an on-camera interview. Warner might classify the prompt responses of the bureaucrats as curiosity and gossip. Curious about the project and how their agency plays a role, both Lucy McSweeney, Executive Lawyer for the Office of the Children’s Lawyer (OCL) and Irwin Elman, Executive Director and Child Advocate for the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth responded promptly and conducted lengthy phone conversations regarding their agency’s mandate and the documentary.
The OCL represents children who are apprehended by the CAS. A grievance arising from both children and parents was that the lawyer from the OCL did not represent the child’s wishes and that they more often sided with the CAS than provided honest and adequate representation to the child. Ms. McSweeney agreed to conduct an on-camera interview to address this concern, if questions and transcript notations were sent to her ahead in order to allow her to adequately prepare. Though the document mirrored the phone conversation, the interview was promptly cancelled after the document was sent. Conversely, concern with the Child’s Advocacy Office involved the Advocate's lack of authority when dealing with the CAS. Once a child is in care (at a group-home or foster home), they are no longer represented by the OCL. If that child is in danger, who or what entity outside of CAS can advocate for them and remove them from this danger when the parent or guardian is denied access? Both Ms. McSweeney and Mr. Irwin agreed by phone that this was an issue. Further, as the only legal authority outside CAS permitted to access the child, how does a child in either foster care or a group-home even know the Child Advocate exists or how to resource them if they’re in trouble? These questions were discussed in conversation with Mr. Elman who expressed the same concerns and heartedly agreed to an on-camera interview. The interview was rescheduled three times and on the third time his assistant stated that the consent form had not been thoroughly investigated by their “team of lawyers” – a consent form that protects the witness, allows the witness to request the footage not be shown in public if it does not represent their intended position, a consent that is also approved by Ryerson’s Ethics Review Board, and one that Mr. Elman had received weeks earlier. During the phone conversation with Mr. Elman, he also mentioned that the Thunder Bay CAS had served him with a law-suit after speaking out on public radio, and that he was absolutely not concerned with any law suits that prohibited him from speaking out on behalf of children. The reason for cancelling the interview was clearly a contradiction to the facts. Isolation through secrecy proved to be a common strategy by agencies and their directors to absolve themselves from accountability and mask truth. This work aspires to demonstrate truth and reality through the collaboration and participation of its publics. Therefore, members of the greater public, who chose to isolate themselves, became of no consequence to this work because their lack of contribution is demonstrative of the lies and deception the public already suspects of them through the actions of their agency.
As far as apprehending kids, it was very traumatic for me and my co-workers when this needed to happen. We would spend time debriefing and supporting each other for those difficult times. Most of my colleagues were very shaken up and upset if they needed to apprehend kids. It was very common that we would support teammates after they needed to take such a step. At times, other staff would do the apprehension since we found it so hard to apprehend after we had built a supportive relationship with the parent.
There is no hint of support for the real victims of apprehension, the bereaved parents and children. This warped view, that the main trauma of apprehension falls on social workers, appears also in a self-serving academic report Getting Over the “Magical Hump" by researchers affiliated with Wilfred Laurier University.
Sued for Non-Disclosure
September 15, 2011 permalink
Two lawsuits have been filed to get California child protectors to comply with a law requiring disclosure after a child death in state custody. The first enclosed article recounts the foot-dragging used by Los Angeles DCF to thwart the new law. If the suits work, it will mean that disclosure is available to any party with a million dollars to spend on litigation.
L.A. Times suit seeks release of L.A. County child death records
Los Angeles Times sues for the release of records related to the deaths of children under the supervision of the L.A. County Department of Children and Family Services.
The Los Angeles Times filed a lawsuit Wednesday asking a judge to order county child welfare officials to release records related to the deaths of children who had been under their supervision.
Under a law that went into effect in 2008, the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services is required to release records to the public when a child dies after passing through the protective services system.
"The county has received the lawsuit and is reviewing it, but we cannot comment on pending litigation," said Nishith Bhatt, spokesman for the agency.
After passage of the 2008 law, the county initially released records for nearly all deaths. But after The Times began reporting on social worker errors, the release of documents slowed. Additionally, county staffers began to redact the records more heavily, leaving many unreadable.
In 2010, the county's Office of Independent Review found that child welfare officials, working with law enforcement agencies, succeeded in getting records withheld, even though police investigators hadn't first reviewed the files. The result has been blanket roadblocks to disclosure that resulted in "a virtual paralysis of the [law's] intent," according to a report by the county watchdog office's lead attorney, Michael Gennaco.
County officials promised to follow Gennaco's recommendations and improve the flow of information. But more than a year later, the changes have not been implemented.
In addition to The Times' suit, child advocates on Wednesday sued the California Department of Social Services in San Diego County Superior Court, seeking to overturn regulations they say unlawfully allow counties to keep secret possible causes of deaths among children whose safety is supposed to be monitored by government agencies.
The lawsuit by the Children's Advocacy Institute alleged that the state rules unlawfully obstruct disclosure of key documents in child fatality cases. The suit targets regulations that require a coroner to decree with complete certainty that a specific act of abuse or neglect killed a child before case records can be publicly released. That standard improperly excludes cases in which mistreatment, such as malnourishment, was a potential contributing factor, the suit says.
Source: Los Angeles Times
State sued over releasing info on children who die in foster care
SAN DIEGO — A lawsuit filed Wednesday by a prominent child advocacy group in San Diego contends the California Department of Social Services has fashioned new regulations that thwart a state law requiring counties to divulge more information about children in the child welfare system who die from abuse or neglect.
The lawsuit, filed in San Diego Superior Court, argues that several regulations the department adopted to comply with a state law passed in 2007 will actually result in less information being released about child deaths.
Child advocates say the issue is key because more public information about the circumstances surrounding child fatalities can lead to improvements in the care of children and reforms in the child welfare system.
“Knowledge is power,” said Robert C. Fellmeth, executive director of the Children’s Advocacy Institute at the University of San Diego School of Law. “This kind of information gives us leads on what we need to do to prevent child deaths in the future.”
Oscar Ramirez, a spokesman for the Department of Social Services, declined to comment to the suit, citing an agency policy that prevents commenting on pending litigation.
Fellmeth’s group conceived and pushed for the successful adoption of the law, known as SB 39. Previously, almost all information about the deaths of children who had come in contact with the child welfare system were confidential.
The new law laid out a three-step disclosure process that broadens the information that can be released. That included, for example, reports of any previous contact with child welfare officials and information about the licensing history of a foster care home if the child died or was injured while in that kind of care.
The lawsuit contends that some of the rules the social services agency drew up for counties to implement the law do not comply with the goal of releasing more information. One rule says information can be released only if the agency determines the injuries were caused by a parent, guardian or foster parent in the home the child was living in at the time.
The law has no such conditions, Fellmeth said. The regulation means that no information would be released if the injuries were caused by live-in boyfriends, grandparents or others, he said.
Another regulation targeted in the suit says information would not be disclosed if a child dies or was injured in a day care facility that is not in a home. Again, Fellmeth said, the law did not contain any such distinction.
The suit also identified two other regulations, one that requires local law enforcement to be consulted before any documents are released, and another that says information can only be released if the medical examiner concludes the immediate cause of death was abuse or neglect.
That would rule out disclosure cases where children who are malnourished and neglected for a lengthy period of time die for some other reason identified by the medical examiner.
The plaintiff in the suit is Robert Butterfield, a founding board member of the child advocacy group Promises2Kids, which used to be called the Child Abuse Prevention Foundation of San Diego. The suit asks the court to strike out the rules.
Fellmeth said child advocates have tried to negotiate with the Department of Social Services to modify the regulations but were not successful in changing the four identified in the suit.
Source: San Diego Union-Tribune
Telling it to the Judge
September 14, 2011 permalink
Chief Justice Warren Winkler attended a church service opening a new court term. He complained that the court system was too costly. Later, he pointed out the urgent need to spend public funds building a new courthouse.
Chief justice calls for new family court system
Ontario’s family justice system “cries out for reform,” says Chief Justice Warren Winkler, who is urging the province and federal government to start talks on merging a patchwork web of services into a “unified family court.”
“Our current family law system is too slow, too complex, too adversarial, and above all, too costly,” Winkler says in a speech to be delivered Tuesday afternoon at the yearly ceremony to open a new term for Ontario’s courts.
“In order to clear the way for the type of comprehensive reform that I believe necessary and have spoken about frequently, we have to extend the unified family court beyond the current 17 sites to the entire province,” he said.
Winkler is scheduled to deliver his remarks in at the University Ave. courthouse at the annual event attended by federal and provincial justice officials and the judiciary.
The justice system’s greatest challenge is ensuring residents of the province can actually use it and “proper access to justice” hinges having enough physical resources in place that cases can be heard in a timely manner, he said.
The same holds true for increasing criminal caseloads, the chief justice added.
“Not surprisingly, I was disappointed to learn of the cancellation of the planned Toronto West courthouse.”
Finance Minister Dwight Duncan announced last March the project was being cancelled in an attempt to save $181 million.
While there doesn’t currently seem to be much appetite for courthouse construction, Winkler said there's a “particularly urgent” need for a new courthouse in downtown Toronto to “supplement” the facility at 361 University Ave.
“The continued failure to address this need increases the risk of intractable delays in hearing cases and thus potential miscarriages of justice,” he said.
Source: Toronto Star
Meanwhile, the real voice of families was heard outside on the streets. Many of the people who have been attending this summer's rallies showed up to ask the judges to stop acting as rubber stamps for children's aid. Here are some pictures, including Chris Carter confronting a judge.            The video is on YouTube or a local copy (flv).
Adopted by the Devil
September 13, 2011 permalink
Today's case of abuse by Arizona adoptive mother Jennifer Barnes is too harsh for some news media. The story does not say what kind of adoption it was, but the mother's behavior suggests it was subsidized, she was doing it for the money. Avoid the expand block if you are squeamish.
Jennifer Barnes Adopted a Child -- Then Shoved Feces in His Mouth, Stuck Toothbrush in Anus. CPS Drops Ball Again?
Jennifer Barnes, 39, of Gilbert, adopted a little boy. She then allegedly committed some of the most depraved acts of child abuse we've ever heard of. They involve feces, a toothbrush, and the boy's anus.
The kicker: as has been the case in several recent Valley child abuse cases, Child Protective Services has a file on Barnes -- yet, her adopted 10-year-old son remained in her custody until her arrest yesterday afternoon.
What you're about to read is not for the squeamish. If you're easily offended, go read the watered-down version of this tragic tale that will likely appear on the Arizona Republic website later today.
According to court records obtained by New Times, the 10-year-old victim spoke to a forensic interviewer (it's unclear why the boy spoke to the investigator. A CPS spokesman tells New Times he has no information about the case. He says he'll let us know when he finds out more) recently and disclosed the abuse he says he suffered at the hands of Barnes between May of 2010 and August 22, of this year.
The boy told the interviewer how Barnes would tie him up and shove dog feces in his mouth. She would then put tape over his mouth so he wouldn't be able to spit it out.
In addition to the feces, the boy told the interviewer Barnes would also burn his penis with a lighter and forcibly shove his own toothbrush into his anus.
In other instances, the boy told the interviewer, Barnes burned his penis with a curling iron before tying a necklace around it, which caused the boy's penis to bleed.
Following the interview, the boy was forensically examined by a doctor. During the examination, the doctor discovered scars on his penis that were "consistent with healed burns." The doctor found other scars on the boy's anus consistent with the abuse the boy described to the interviewer.
Barnes was interviewed by a Gilbert detective who notes that she provided inconsistent information, although, she denied the abuse.
Court records indicate that CPS has a file on Barnes and has investigated potential abuse.
Again, CPS spokesman Steve Meissner tells New Times he has no information about the circumstances surrounding those investigations, or why the boy was allowed to remain in the home. He's going to get back to us when he has more information -- check back for details.
Barnes was booked on one count each of child abuse and sexual conduct with a minor. Her next court date is scheduled for September 15.
Source: Phoenix New Times
CAS Online Debate
September 12, 2011 permalink
A chain of publications starting with an editorial in the Waterloo Record has become a wide-ranging discussion of children's aid. Participants include (alphabetically): Vern Beck, Chris Carter, Neil Haskett, York CAS executive director Patrick Lake, Gordie Merton, Anne Patterson, Jessica Pelissero and Chad Wells. The discussion can be viewed at Cambridge Advocate, our on our local copy with the two precipitating editorials.
September 12, 2011 permalink
An Australian lesbian couple fostered a boy. One partner was preparing for a sex change, the other was taking fertility treatment. They posted humiliating pictures of the boy on their Facebook page, dressed as a girl.
Lesbian foster couple put six year old boy in girl's clothes and post photos on Facebook
A SIX-year-old boy placed in the care of a lesbian foster couple was dressed in girl's clothes and the humiliating pictures were posted on the couple's Facebook page.
One of the women was preparing for a sex change to become a man at the time, while her girlfriend was undergoing fertility treatment.
The boy and his 12-year-old sister have since been moved but former Children's Court magistrate Barbara Holborow yesterday called for a full inquiry into the decision to put them there. "Oh my God, what are we doing?" Ms Holborow, who has fostered eight children, said.
Families Minister Pru Goward has demanded a full explanation from child welfare service Barnardos, which had recruited the couple.
"I am seeking advice from Barnardos to confirm that care arrangements were appropriate and the wellbeing of the children was paramount," Ms Goward said yesterday.
The children's story, described as one of the saddest in the state, has been revealed in a Supreme Court judgment posted last month in Children's Law news compiled by the NSW Children's Court.
Their mother had tried but failed in the Supreme Court to win back custody of her son, given the pseudonym Campbell by the court.
His current foster parents want to adopt him.
Campbell was taken into care in November 2006 at the age of 18 months along with his four stepbrothers and two stepsisters after complaints of physical and mental abuse at the hands of the parents.
Campbell and his sister Abby, then 12, were placed with the lesbian couple in early 2009. The placement did not work out for Abby and after she was moved, Campbell was dressed in girl's clothes and his photograph placed on the couple's Facebook page.
Source: Daily Telegraph (Australis)
We Own the Court
September 11, 2011 permalink
Remember years ago, playing against the kid who owned the ball? Well he's grown up and works for CAS.
I was just speaking to a FACS Niagara worker to clear up some confusion with court date, my lawyer says 13th my worker says 12th! This worker was aggressive, unstable at best and stated that they can change the court date because it is THEIR COURT! I have been under the impression that a court was run by the city or municipality in which it stands! Boy have I been misinformed! Also when I told her she was on speaker getting aggressive she muttered something and hung up!
Good Job FACS Niagara on hiring such stellar pillars of the community to deal with our children, no wonder so many kids get abused in CAS care!
More Power than God
September 10, 2011 permalink
In March 2001 a CAS client in Shelburne Ontario mentioned to fixcas that Dufferin CAS worker Jennifer Foster asserted: "We have as much power as God". Esther took her title from that boast.
More Power than Police
September 10, 2011 permalink
Police showed up at the home of Pat Niagara but did not have legal authority to enter and search. Did they go away? Try to get authorization from a court? Not at all. They stood by and called CAS. Social workers entered the home on pretense of child protection, then the police could conduct their search. This is a good example for readers skeptical of claims that CAS has more power than the police. Here is video of the team entering the home: YouTube or local copy (flv).
Pat Niagara Sept 10, 2011 - Illegal police Search in Niagara
Attention Advocates, this could happen to you. Due to Bobbie Niagara advocating on behalf of a mother and being her support in court, Niagara Regional Police showed up at my house looking for her 14 year old daughter who ran away from a Group Home, calling her by 2 different names. The police were refused entry due to no search warrant and after waiting for 2 hours in front of the house for said warrant, with no success, FACS Niagara was called in and proceeded to conduct the search under the guise of"Child Protection". As one police officer searched the home, the other police officer detained me from following. The police officer searching the home even went so far as searching drawers, as if a 14 year old girl would be hidden there. Nice way to spend our Saturday afternoon..
September 10, 2011 permalink
Pat Niagara September 09 2011
Rally 4 Accountability Huron/Perth
We again hit the streets raising awareness about the unlawful practice of social work by this private organization by handing out pamphlets.
We did not collect signatures for the 3 separate petitions at this Rally due to the location..
CAS protesters hit Stratford
A small group of out-of-town protesters stood in front of the local Children's Aid Society to draw attention to a litany of complaints.
At the top of their list, the group says there are social workers breaking the law by not being registered with the Ontario College of Social Workers.
They say the Children's Aid Society has no accountability.
"The only party that has proclaimed support of families is the NDP. They put forward the ombudsman's bill, but every time it gets shot down in the legislature," said Bobbie Cutler.
She said the Child and Family Services Review Board doesn't make children's aid societies accountable for their actions.
Cutler says she's been helping a family in Niagara Falls who she believes is being treated unfairly by the system.
"They got a new worker, fresh out of college. She's 22 with no children, but she has an education so she can go in and say this family is parenting incorrectly," Cutler said.
The group holds rotating rallies around Ontario.
They want residents to sign petitions online at canadacourtwatch.com or fixcas.com.
Source: Stratford Beacon Herald
Source: Stratford Beacon Herald
Huron-Perth Board Reinstated
September 9, 2011 permalink
The Huron-Perth Children's Aid Society is back under control of a board of directors, ending eleven months of administration by the Ministry of Children and Youth Services. This also ends the period during which the provincial ombudsman could look into problems with the agency.
CAS Back in Local Hands
After more than 10 months of administration by the province the Huron-Perth Children's Aid Society is back in local hands.
The agency has named a 14-member Board of Directors after being overseen by the Ministry of Children and Youth Services since last October.
The province stepped in when the CAS announced it would close last December because of a 1.3-million dollar deficit and a debt-load of close to a-million dollars.
Interim Executive-Director Larry Marshall says Huron-Perth was among a number of Children's Aid Societies across the province facing fiscal challenges.
He notes that Ministry personnel helped balance the Huron-Perth CAS budget before returning the agency to community control.
Marshall says there was no shortage of volunteers who applied for positions on the Board.
The new Board will be confirmed at the Society's annual general meeting on September 20th.
The community will notice no difference in the way the Children's Aid Society is run.
Marshall tells us the return to local guidance offers what he calls a unique opportunity to look at how to tailor their services to specifically local needs.
Source: Bayshore Broadcasting
Sued for Rally
September 9, 2011 permalink
Dave Flook has been sued by CAS of Chatham-Kent. Other children's aid societies have attempted to scare off rallies by calling the police   , but Chatham-Kent has adopted another strategy. Bypassing a trial, CAS is moving for an immediate order getting criticism off his website. Part of the complaint concerns the conduct of persons attending the rally in Chatham on August 17. Mr Flook does not look like the kind of man who can afford serious legal defense, so he could soon be getting an order to shut up or go to jail. Success in squelching Mr Flook could spread to others attending rallies in the future. Don't think of complaining to your MPPs about this case. The provincial election will keep them out-of-town until after the court date. Below are the particulars as posted by Dave Flook. Text corrected September 10.
CAS final motion against Dave Flook
Just a quick post here. Yet, another chapter in the on going saga of the CAS vs Dave Flook (otherwise known as YOUR TAX DOLLARS AT WORK).
I was served today with a motion. In this motion they include quite a lot of so-called evidence (which would be laughed out of court by the way) but so-called evidence nevertheless. Interestingly, they include a full synopsis of our Rally (including what was written on our signs... what this actually has to do with their initial claims of Libel I'm not too entirely sure). They also included some Canada Court Watch brochures - which I myself was not handing out but fully endorsed others to hand out. I just find it rather interesting that they are using other groups posters and educational materials as evidence against me. Are we padding our files here folks??
On a more serious side of things - you will notice in the scanned PDFs below that they have included screen captures of our facebook chats.
This, as far as Im concerned is a whole new can of worms and poses very serious connotations. Their lack of redaction or failure to black out anyone's names BUT mine (Dave Flook under the Not All Dads Are Deadbeats title - which I only claim responsibility for ones there are signed as ~ Dave Flook since we have 4 admins who post under the NADADs title). means that every single name and post listed is now submitted as official evidence!!!
I know of 8 people who will be phoning the Chatham CAS to find out why their names and posts are being used in this manner. One is more than willing to go as far as suing the Chatham CAS if their names continue to be used.
An interesting note however - the investigator forgot to redact his/her own friends list (which is clearly obvious in the post below). We will be making every single person on this list aware that their names are now officially submitted as formal evidence in a superior court lawsuit.
I don't know about you but I think I would be pretty pissed off if my name was submitted as evidence in this manner.
My reply to the CAS is simple - I've always been more than willing to sit down and talk about these issues and more than willing to present them in the most honest fashion. I do not wish to cause harm to anyone's career but rather ensure that there is oversight and protocols in place to lessen any instance of potential corruption or abuse.
I'm not a lawyer and sadly I do not have unlimited public funds to back me up (unlike you)... But I promise you that you will never win in a court of public opinion.
So....send me to jail if you must..but you will never stop me from fighting for the principals I believe in.
~ Dave Flook
Final Motion Parts:
- Notice Of Motion: pdf
- Affidavit of Michael Stephans: pdf
- Exhibit "a" site printout: pdf
- Exhibit "b" letter: pdf
- Exhibit "c" facebook printout: pdf
- Exhibit "d" notice: pdf
- Exhibit "e" site printout: pdf
- Affidavit of Jay Lockley (lawyer investigator): pdf
- Exhibit "3a" flyer: pdf
- Exhibit "3b" flyer: pdf
- Exhibit "C2" flyer: pdf
These are the names (in Section C of the final motion) that are on the investigators friends list. Most are from Windsor if you want to add them to your list and ask them how they feel about now being included in the official evidence against Dave Flook from Not All Dads Are Deadbeats.com
- Adam Jarvis
- Al Maghnieh
- Andrea Harris
- Andrea MacGillivray
- Dave Jones
- Emily Limarzi
- Gayl Katzman
- James Chauvin
- Jane Deneau
- Joe McParland
- Johanna Glbson-Lawler
- John Brennan
- John Morris Russell
- Kelsey Dilkens
- Kristie Leach Tod
- Landon Cocodile Hunt ...
- Mike Kakuk
- T.J. Dilkens
- Ted Dilkens
- Tina Montagano-Gros...
- Valerie Rennie Critchley
- Wendy Potomski
Source: Not All Dads Are Deadbeats
September 8, 2011 permalink
Australian Michelle Stubbs, abused as a foster child in the 1980s, rebuffed Minister for Child Protection Robyn McSweeney by returning her letter of apology. For Canadians unfamiliar with cricket, let it through to the [goal]keeper means: to avoid, ignore, or sidestep a question one does not want to answer or an issue one does not want to address.
State abuse victim rejects Premier's apology
A WA MP has broken down on radio over allegations she mistreated a woman who was abused in state care.
Michelle Stubbs, who became a public spokeswoman for WA victims of state care abuse, today publicly embarrassed the state government by returning a letter of apology and claiming she was threatened, humiliated and tormented during the redress process for the abuse she suffered as a teenager in state care.
Ms Stubbs accused Minister for Child Protection Robyn McSweeney of asking her to "let this one go through to the keeper" when she complained about the government's decision to cut the maximum ex gratia payment from $80,000 to $45,000.
This afternoon Ms McSweeney admitted she made the comment but said it was in context and she in no way tried to "heavy" Ms Stubbs. She also denied she initatied the phone call in a bid to quieten Ms Stubbs.
"I returned her call on the morning that we announced the payment cut," Ms McSweeney told 6PR.
"She was very emotional ... and I must say so was I. It was very hard for me.
"I was telling her that I couldn't change the decision. The decision has been made by Cabinet."
Ms Stubbs' claims were raised in parliament this morning by the state Opposition. She said she moved to Far North Queensland in disgust with her home state.
Ms Stubbs was placed into state care shortly before her 13th birthday in 1981 after being sexually abused by her stepfather, who was later jailed for life for the offences.
During three years in care, she says she was forced to have unsupervised visits with her stepfather, which led her to regularly run away. During the times she was on Perth streets, she says she was twice again raped, which she did not report to police.
Ms Stubbs says she was then "locked up" in Nyandi, a maximum security facility for girls under 18, to prevent her from running away. She was kept there for more than two years despite not committing an offence.
Her claim also states she was further harmed when on five occasions she was punished by being forced to sit at a desk facing a wall for two days, without being allowed to talk, slouch or sleep.
Ms Stubbs, who is now aged in her 40s, accepted a $13,000 ex gratia payment under the Redress WA scheme introduced in acknowledgement of the state's neglect of abused victims.
However, in a letter sent to all WA Liberal MPs today, she said she only accepted the reduced payment to help cover the cost of a lawyer she had engaged before the maximum payment was cut.
She was disgusted at the government's decision to slash the maximum payment while announcing a $1 billion stadium.
"Unquestionably, I have never been so disgusted with a political decision," she said.
"To change the goal posts once the application period had closed was simply unfair, improper and totally ignorant of the costs (both financially and emotionally) so many applicants had already incurred during the process."
Ms Stubbs said when she asked Redress WA to explain what exactly they were apologising for she was distressed to learn that only the abuse during her first three months of being in care was accepted.
"I cannot begin to describe the utter distress that this caused me," her letter to the Liberal MPs says.
"To have spent years going through this process only to be dismissed in such a way.
"For me the process of going through the Redress WA scheme made me feel belittled, threatened, humiliated, blamed, ignored, isolated, scapegoated, rejected and tormented. Which, ironically, is exactly how the Redress WA Guidelines interpret emotional or psychological abuse."
Ms Stubbs, who was a Liberal Party state candidate at the 2005 election, said she quit the Liberal Party because of handling of the redress scheme.
Opposition leader Eric Ripper today tabled in parliament the letter of apology from Premier Colin Barnett and Ms McSweeney to Ms Stubbs.
The letter says the Premier and minister acknowledged "the difficult and painful process of sharing your story with the Redress WA process".
"On behalf of the state government, we extend to you our sincere apology," the letter says.
"While your experiences as a child in care can never be erased, we hope that the recognition of the abuse and neglect suffered during the time in care will play an important part in the healing process."
During an unsuccessful motion to condemn the government for its handling of the Redress WA scheme, Mr Ripper said it was unprecedented for a former member of the governing party to publicly repudiate a formal apology offered by the Premier.
"This is a very, very disturbing matter and it also reveals this government has been so hard-hearted and so mean spirited," he said.
"She's been further damaged, in my view, by what's happened, by the policy decision to slash the amount of payment and the way she was treated by Redress WA."
Mr Barnett said many victims of state care abuse had been mislead in believing that they could have received up to $80,000, which he said was never the case.
Almost 5000 victims had received ex gratia payments through Redress WA and about $120 million had been allocated to the scheme, he said.
"I stand by the decision that this government made and I stand by our commitment to spend [$120 million] on this program," he said.
Ms McSweeney said she understood exactly what child abuse victims experienced.
"My heart was breaking," she said of standing on the steps of Parliament House to face a protest by state child abuse victims and supporters.
"It's really awful for them and nothing I believe or say will take that awya and I wish I could for all those people, but I can't."
Source: Sydney Morning Herald
September 8, 2011 permalink
Canada Court Watch reports on a CAS worker willing to expose corruption within her agency, including documentary evidence. The same worker says that CAS workers now fear the effective campaigns by opponents to expose CAS actions.
Vernon Beck An experienced and long time senior CAS senior worker has engaged in preliminary discussions with Canada Court Watch and has indicated her willingness to expose the corruption going on within her agency. Some of the information she has provided to date is chilling. The worker has alleged illegal and fraudulent activities (including tax evasion by CAS) going on inside the CAS agency which employed her. While Court Watch does receive the occasional call from an honest CAS workers providing information about CAS wrongdoing, this worker has indicated her willingness to go public and has indicated that she will be providing names and documents to support her claims and that she has been collecting this information secretly for months.
This worker has indicated that her conscience will no longer allow her to remain silent on what she sees is damage being done to children and families by her fellow employees. More on this developing story will be published in the weeks to come as Court Watch conducts an investigation into this matter.
Court Watch urges any other CAS workers or foster parents who are aware of unlawful or suspicious activities going on with the CAS agency they work for to contact Canada Court Watch in confidence either by email or phone. Those workers who remain silent and continue to hide what they know is wrong may well be caught up in the net themselves and find themselves with their careers ruined and facing criminal charges.
Vernon Beck This worker has also disclosed that many workers within CAS agencies are becoming increasingly afraid because of what they see are effective campaigns by advocacy groups to expose CAS. She said that many of the workers at her agency were very afraid of being caught and exposed by organizations such as Canada Court Watch. We remind all readers to keep their recording devices close and to video or audio record everything involving CAS. What goes around comes around and with the help of each and every parent who fights them, the days of CAS being able to avoid accountability are soon to come to an end.
September 8, 2011 permalink
Jamey Ellen Brown, age 15, is missing from her Oshawa residence. The police make no mention of her parents, so she could be a runaway from CAS.
Missing Female Youth to be Located
Investigators are concerned for the welfare of a missing 15-year-old female youth from Oshawa and are appealing for the public’s assistance to locate her.
On Sunday September 4, 2011 at approximately 5:00 p.m., the 15-year-old female walked away from her residence located in the City of Oshawa and was last seen walking west on McLaughlin Boulevard. Repeated attempts to locate her have not been successful.
Jamey Ellen BROWN, age 15, of Oshawa is described as: female, white, 5’8” tall, 134 lbs, fair complexion, hazel eyes, shoulder length straight reddish brown dyed hair. The missing person was last seen wearing grey skinny jeans with designs on the back pockets, black and white checkered high top running shoes, a bright pink shirt carrying a black and white checkered sweater.
An image of the missing teen is attached or can be viewed under Media Releases at www.drps.ca.
Anyone with information about this investigation or who might know the whereabouts of this missing youth is asked to contact Det. Steve Mackey of the Central East Criminal Investigative Bureau at 1-888-222-8477 ext. 2770 or Cst. Holly Rice at ext. 2701.
Anonymous tips can be made to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS) or online at www.durhamregionalcrimestoppers.ca and tipsters may be eligible for a cash reward of up to $2,000.
Source: Durham Regional Police
September 7, 2011 permalink
All adverse parties having agreed, the litigation against fixcas and Robert T McQuaid filed on August 10,2009 has been settled. There have been no additional court filings since August 2009 and there are no other terms and conditions beyond those shown in the expand block.
APOLOGY AND UNDERTAKING
I, ROBERT T McQUAID, editor of the website known as "fixcas.com" (hereinafter referred to as the "Website"), do absolutely, unreservedly, and sincerely apologize to Mr. Peter Ringrose, Mr. Bill Shin, Ms. Angela Perkins, Ms. Robin Bouck, Ms. Pautette Kane-Abbott and the Family and Children's' Services of the Regional Municipality of Waterloo, for republishing on the Website, offensive newsletters which referred to the named individuals in defamatory language. I accept full responsibility for the republication of the defamatory language and apologize.
I also undertake to Mr. Ringrose, Mr. Shin, Ms. Perkins, Ms. Bouck and Ms. Kane-Abbott and the Family and Children's Services of the Regional Municipality of Waterloo that the three newsletters described in the statement of claim will be removed from the Website
I agree to publish this apology and to maintain it on the Website for 90 days following the first date of publication and to make the apology known to anyone viewing the Website inserting a hyperlink to, "Apology to Family and Children's Services of the Regional Municipality of Waterloo"
DATED at Mattawa, Ontario this 14 day of April, 2010.
Robert T McQuaid
Addendum: It is over with the Full and Final Release (pdf). The case against Mr Carter ended with a judgment (pdf) enjoining him from libel or slander against the plaintiffs or the Waterloo CAS, and and costs of $7,000.
September 7, 2011 permalink
In August Chris Carter addressed some questions to the Cambridge Memorial Hospital. Yesterday Mr Carter posted the answers to Facebook from Stephan Beckhoff representing the hospital. Two interesting answers:
Chris Carter Back in mid-August I posted an August 17/11 letter I had written to the Cambridge Memorial Hospital (CMH) re: CA$ issues (apprehensions of babies from the hospital, child abuse investigations begun based on referrals from the hospital, registration of social workers, etc...)
Well, I just received a response from the CMH's "senior communications specialist" to that email today.
It contains some good information.
Here it is:
Mr. Carter –
I would like to thank you for your patience. Below are the answers to your questions. Please contact me if you have any other questions.
Stephan Beckhoff, MA
Senior Communications Specialist
Cambridge Memorial Hospital
700 Coronation Blvd.• Cambridge, ON • N1R 3G2
P - 519-621-2333 ext 2427
F - 519-740-4934
“Building a Healthier Community”
Currently does the CMH keep records in regards to:
i) the apprehension of babies from the hospital by Children's Aid Society (CAS) workers (specifically the numbers/quarter and the stated reason(s) that the apprehension was necessary),
ii) child abuse investigations which originate via a hospital referral to the CAS?
CMH does not keep records for both items i) and ii). It may be more appropriate to send this request to Family and Children’s Services or CAS.
Acknowledging the need for redactions, are those CMH records currently available to be requested and obtained by the public?
These are not available because this information is part of a patient’s health record. Unless directed by the patient or substitute decision maker, all Ontario hospitals are required by law to keep a patient’s health record private and confidential.
With the full imposition of Bill 122 beginning in Jan. 2011, will those records (including the preceding five years' records) be available to be requested and obtained by the public?
This would not qualify as a Freedom of Information request, because the request is to access information that is part of a patient’s health record. This is strictly excluded from Bill 122. Unless directed by the patient or substitute decision maker, all Ontario hospitals are required by law to keep a patient’s health record private and confidential.
i) Are all social workers employed by the CMH required to be registered as Registered Social Workers (RSW) with the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers?
Yes – all social workers employed at CMH have to be registered with their college.
ii) If so, is that a requirement established by legislation or a CMH by-law or some other mechanism?
Social workers and 20 other health professions are regulated through Ontario’s Regulated Health Professions Act, 1991. It is a common standard for hospitals to employ regulated health professionals who are registered with their college. But, it is up to the agency to set their employment standards.
i) As policy, does the CMH require that the CAS workers who apprehend babies from those mothers/parents/families who choose the CMH as the hospital in which to give birth to their babies, also be RSWs?
ii) As policy, does the CMH require that the CAS workers who conduct child protection investigations at the CHM based on child abuse referrals originating from the CMH be RSWs?
For both points i) and ii), CMH is directed by government to cooperate with other government agencies. CMH has no influence on the hiring practices of any external agency. Besides a duty to cooperate, CMH must verify the identity, but not the credentials of the agency appointed caregiver if the child is not being discharged to parents.
Does the CMH allow citizens to apply to be allowed to present to the Board re: relevant issues?
To help promote transparency to the community, the Board of Directors meeting is open to the public and all are welcome to observe how CMH is governed. These meetings are focused on the business aspects of running a hospital; it is not designed as a public open forum. However, there is a mechanism by which the public or interested agencies can make a presentation.
The board has a policy for persons wishing to address it regarding governance, policy matters in relation to the hospital’s vision, mission, values and directional plan. There is an application process, but submitting one does not guarantee the request will be accepted. This policy is not yet posted to our website. I’ve attached it for your convenience.
In regards to answer #6 here is the policy which the CMH's "communication specialist" forwarded to me:
SUBJECT: Procedure for Members of the Public Addressing the Board or Board Committee
SECTION: Board Processes APPROVED BY: Board
DATE: March 30, 2011 REVISED/REVIEWED:
Persons wishing to address the board concerning matters relevant to the hospital must do so following the procedure outlined below.
- Delegations wishing to make a presentation to the board regarding governance and policy matters in relation to the hospital’s vision, mission, values, and directional plan are invited to do so. To protect confidentiality, presentations and questions about an individual’s care are not permitted.
- Application to appear before the board or a committee of the board may be made by contacting the CEO’s office (519-621-2333 ext. 2350) and completing a Delegation Application Form (attached).
- The Delegation Application Form together with a written description of the specific matter to be addressed will be received no later than 10 working days prior to the meeting date or received by an alternate date at the discretion of the chair. If a group wishes to make a submission, a spokesperson for the group is to be identified.
- Requests to address the board on a specific item will be granted (generally in order of the receipt of the application) at the discretion of the chair of the board. The chair of the board may request that the matter be referred or redirected as appropriate. Persons or groups not permitted to address the board shall be so notified.
- The chair is not obligated to grant a request to address the board. The board is not obligated to respond to, or take any action on the presentation it receives.
- The board may limit the number of presentations at any one meeting.
- Delegations addressing the board will be required to limit their remarks to their allotted time.
- Board members may ask questions of clarification following the presentation.
I hope this information is helpful.
September 7, 2011 permalink
A Kentucky social worker is accused of falsifying records, though no specifics are available.
Ex-state social worker enters not-guilty plea to records falsification
LAWRENCEBURG, KY. — A former state social worker pleaded not guilty Tuesday to criminal charges that she falsified records in child abuse and neglect cases.
Margaret “Geri” Murphy, 60, entered the plea in Anderson Circuit Court. It was her first court appearance since Murphy’s Aug. 2 indictment on nine felony counts of tampering with public records related to cases she investigated between 2006 and 2010.
Murphy and her lawyer, Bill Patrick, declined to comment after her brief appearance before Anderson Circuit Judge Charles R. Hickman. The judge scheduled Murphy’s next court appearance for Nov. 22.
She resigned Jan. 3, according to her personnel records from the Cabinet for Health and Family Services. She is living in Florida.
Attorney General Jack Conway said last month his office began investigating after a complaint from a citizen about how Murphy had handled a case involving her family.
Conway said a review of Murphy’s investigations uncovered multiple cases in which it appeared information had been falsified.
The charges provide no details of the nature of the false information or how it affected families that were subjects of child abuse and neglect information.
The charges each carry a potential penalty of one to five years in prison and a maximum fine of $10,000.
Source: Louisville Courier-Journal
Addendum: At the sentencing specifics are available. She falsely marked some cases as unsubstantiated. This continues the pattern that social workers are punished for failure to intervene, never for unnecessary intervention.
Former Social Worker Sentenced to Five Years in Prison
FRANKFORT, KY (7/24/12) - Attorney General Jack Conway and his Office of Special Prosecutions today announced the sentencing of a former social worker with the Cabinet for Health and Family Services for falsifying child abuse and neglect reports. Anderson Circuit Judge Charles Hickman sentenced 61-year-old Margaret "Geri" Murphy to five years in prison following her guilty plea in May to nine felony counts of tampering with public records in connection with her role as a front-line worker investigating allegations of child abuse and neglect in Anderson County.
Prosecution of this case was handled by General Conway's Office of Special Prosecutions at the request of Laura Donnell, Commonwealth's Attorney for the 53rd Judicial Circuit representing Anderson, Shelby and Spencer counties. The Attorney General's Department of Criminal Investigations (DCI) began investigating the allegations against Murphy after receiving a complaint from a citizen who had Murphy assigned to a court case involving her family.
"Geri Murphy's actions were unconscionable," General Conway said. "Ms. Murphy had a responsibility to investigate allegations of child abuse or neglect and to take action to protect children from these heinous crimes. She failed to execute her duties and to protect Kentucky's youngest and most vulnerable citizens. The sentence handed down today sends a critical message that damaging the integrity of the Cabinet's system of support for child victims will not be tolerated."
Murphy's attorney requested that she receive probation. Because of the seriousness of the offenses and the fact that children's lives were at risk, General Conway's prosecutors opposed probation and recommended a sentence of five years on each count to run concurrently, for a total of five years in prison.
Reports of child abuse and neglect are assigned to a social worker to investigate and determine whether the abuse or neglect is substantiated or unsubstantiated. In all nine counts to which Murphy pled guilty, she documented that child abuse or neglect was unsubstantiated. Murphy admitted in her guilty plea that she falsified her reports concerning those investigations. In at least two of the cases where Murphy falsified reports finding that sexual abuse allegations were unsubstantiated, children were victimized again due to being left in abusive situations.
In one case involving a report of sexual abuse of an infant by the mother's boyfriend, new allegations of sexual abuse against the boyfriend were made after Murphy provided false facts and unsubstantiated the original report of abuse. Police expressed the belief that Murphy's inaction allowed the sexual abuse to continue.
In another case, Murphy documented that children had denied being abused in a foster home, when in fact they had given authorities details of the abuse. As a result of Murphy's falsification of the facts, the children remained in an abusive home until another complaint was filed and investigated by another social worker, which eventually led to the children being removed from the foster home.
Please Don't Feed the Children
September 4, 2011 permalink
A British family is about to lose their children for being too fat. The complaint that started the intervention turned out to be false, but social workers will not let go. The family had to live with a social worker in their home watching them eat their meals.
Parents of seven told: Your children are too fat, so you will never see them again
Four obese children are on the brink of being permanently removed from their family by social workers after their parents failed to bring their weight under control.
In the first case of its kind, their mother and father now face what they call the ‘unbearable’ likelihood of never seeing them again.
Their three daughters, aged 11, seven and one, and five-year-old son, will either be ‘fostered without contact’ or adopted.
Either way, the family’s only hope of being reunited will be if the children attempt to track down their parents when they become adults.
The couple, who have been married for nearly 20 years and are not being named to protect their children’s identities, were given a ‘draconian’ ultimatum three years ago – as reported at the time by The Mail on Sunday.
Warned that the children must slim or be placed in care, the family spent two years living in a council-funded ‘Big Brother’ house in which they were constantly supervised and the food they ate monitored.
But despite subjecting them to intense scrutiny, social workers did not impose rules on what food the children should eat, and there was apparently little or no improvement.
News of the decision to remove them was broken to the couple, from Dundee, on Tuesday. Critics called it a disgraceful breach of human rights and a chilling example of the power of the State to meddle in family life.
In an emotional interview, the 42-year-old mother said: ‘We might not be the perfect parents, but we love our children with all our hearts. To face a future where we will never see them again is unbearable.
‘They picked on us because of our size to start with and they just haven’t let go, despite the fact we’ve done everything to lose weight and meet their demands. We’re going to fight this to the bitter end. It feels like even prisoners have more human rights than we do.’
The couple have not committed any crime and are not accused of deliberate cruelty or abuse. Their solicitor, Joe Myles, said there was ‘nothing sinister lurking in the background’ and accused social workers of failing to act in the family’s best interests.
‘Dundee social services department appear to have locked horns with this couple and won’t let go,’ he said, adding that the monitoring project caused more problems than it solved. ‘The parents were constantly being accused of bad parenting and made to live under a microscope.
The couple have three older children who are all distraught and angry at the ruling.
Speaking through tears, their 15-year-old daughter said: ‘The social workers should hang their heads in shame. A person’s weight is their own business and only we can do anything about it, not them. My parents are good people and they love us all. The four little ones don’t know what is about to happen to them.’
Social workers became aware of the family in early 2008 after one of the sons accused his father of hitting him on the forehead. In truth, he had fallen and hit his head on a radiator – a fact he later admitted. However, the allegation opened the door to the obesity investigation.
While the couple admit experiencing what their lawyer calls ‘low grade’ parenting problems, which would have merited support, they were aghast when the issue of weight was seized on as a major concern.
A council report at the time said: ‘With the exception of [one of the names], the children are all overweight. Advice has been given regarding diet but there has been no improvement. Appointments with the dietician have been missed.’
At that point their then 12-year-old son weighed 16 stone; his 11-year-old sister weighed 12 stone; and his three-year-old sister weighed four stone. It is not known how much the four younger children weigh now.
The couple were ordered to send their children to dance and football lessons and were given a three-month deadline to bring down their weight. When that failed, the children were placed in foster homes but were allowed to visit their parents.
After the couple objected to this arrangement, the council agreed to move them into a two-bedroom flat in a supported unit run by the Dundee Families Project. They insisted on the couple living with only three of their children at a time.
At meal times, a social worker stood in the room taking notes. Doctors raised concerns that the children put on weight whenever they spent time with their parents, a claim they vehemently denied.
The couple and their children also had to adhere to a strict 11pm curfew. This involved ‘clocking’ in and out by filling in a sheet held by an employee who lived on site.
Although the children’s weight was the major concern, other allegations were included in a report. It showed that social workers were worried when the youngest child was found crawling unsupervised. The parents point out they were never far away and the flat had no stairs.
They also found her ‘attempting to put dangerous objects’ in her mouth. The family say this is natural in toddlers and she was never successful.
To have a social worker stand and watch you eat is intolerable. I want other families to know what can happen once social workers become involved. We will fight them to the end to get our beloved children back.
Social workers were further worried when she crawled through the contents of an upturned ashtray – an ‘unfortunate one-off incident’, claim the parents. All the concerns were dismissed by the family’s legal team as ‘low grade’ problems.
It is understood the father crumbled under the strain of being so closely monitored in January this year and moved into a council flat elsewhere in the city.
In the next few months, the mother breached the lunch and dinner meal observations, by her own admission, on ‘several’ occasions while taking the children to see their father.
She personally never broke the 11pm curfew but once allowed her seven-year-old daughter to remain at her father’s flat after she fell asleep. She did not want to disturb her and argued the child had ‘two parents, not one’ and was in ‘good hands’.
These breaches led staff to declare the trial a failure and the mother was asked to leave the unit in April this year. She moved in to her husband’s flat but the children were then handed over to foster parents.
Her solicitor said he planned to use independent experts to prove that the children want to live with their parents and have been damaged by the social workers’ intervention. He added: ‘We may ultimately look towards human rights laws.’
The father, aged 56, said: ‘We have tried very hard to do everything that was asked of us. My wife has cooked healthy foods like home-made spaghetti bolognese and mince and potatoes; we’ve cut out snacks and only ever allowed the kids sweets on a Saturday. But nothing we’ve done has ever been enough.
‘The pressure of living in the family unit would have broken anyone. We were being treated like children and cut off from the outside world. To have a social worker stand and watch you eat is intolerable. I want other families to know what can happen once social workers become involved. We will fight them to the end to get our beloved children back.’
It is estimated 26 million British adults will be obese by 2030, with obesity levels running at an all-time high among children. Official statistics show those who are overweight spend 50 per cent more time in hospital, placing extra strain on the NHS.
Tam Fry, honorary chairman of the Child Growth Foundation, said: ‘This is a disgrace. These parents have clearly attempted to comply. They have, if you like, played Dundee City Council’s game and yet they are still losing their children.’
Dundee City Council said: ‘The council always acts in the best interests of children, with their welfare and safety in mind.’
Source: Daily Mail
September 1, 2011 permalink
Timed for the start of the election campaign, the Ontario government is touting the recent changes to adoption laws. A press release invites news editors to publish favorable stories, helped along with a set of quotes and quick facts.
Helping More Kids Find Permanent Homes
McGuinty Government Makes It Easier For Parents To Build Families Through Adoption
Thousands more Ontario children and youth are now eligible for adoption and other supports thanks to changes now in effect.
The Building Families and Supporting Youth To Be Successful Act, 2011 removes barriers so more kids in the care of children's aid societies (CASs) can be adopted. To help with the transition to adulthood, older youth whose care ended at ages 16 or 17 are now able to return to their CAS and receive financial and other supports until the age of 21.
To help more kids find permanent homes, Ontario will also provide subsidies to eligible families who want to adopt or gain legal custody of a Crown ward. These subsidies will be available through CASs for siblings and children 10 years and older. The new funding is in addition to existing subsidies that most CASs already provide to some adoptive families.
These changes are an important step in the government's efforts to strengthen Ontario's adoption system and help more children and youth reach their potential and succeed.
- Previously, 75 per cent of the 9,000 kids in CAS care had access orders that prevented them from being adopted. As of Sept. 1, these kids are now eligible for adoption.
- Ontario is more than doubling the number of Adoption Resource Exchanges - forums that match adoptive families with children needing adoption - across Ontario.
- In the last two years, Ontario increased adoptions by 21 per cent over 2008-09.
- Research shows that children and youth in permanent homes are more likely to graduate from high school, hold a job and contribute to their communities.
- The Building Families and Supporting Youth To Be Successful Act, 2011.
- How to adopt a child in Ontario.
- Adopt Ontario helps match children with prospective parents.
- Backgrounder: Giving More Kids A Place To Call Home.
Ministry of Children and Youth Services
Ministry of Children and Youth Services ontario.ca/children
Source: Ministry of Children and Youth Services
To present both sides, here are some more quick facts:
Addendum: Reference to the abduction of Natalie quickly caused the video of her to go viral on Facebook. It has even been reposted to YouTube, though it will probably disappear again quite soon. Here is a good video response (flv) featuring an introduction by Laurel Broten.