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Social Workers Poisoned
September 22, 2015 permalink
Those know-it-all social workers who tell you how to nourish your kids failed to exercise their own expertise. Eighty of them in Brantford succumbed to food poisoning.
Food poisoning sickens 80-100 in Brantford
Food poisoning cause still a mystery
More than 80 child protection employees were sickened by food poisoning last week, a situation that has decimated working teams at the Brant Family and Children’s Services agency.
Executive director Andy Koster said Thursday staff at the agency has been scrambling to help cover shifts after between 80-100 workers called in sick, beginning last Friday.
“Some people have symptoms that are going on well beyond the regular time associated with food poisoning,” Koster said. “But people are working really hard to deliver our services and those who aren’t ill are doing double duty.”
Koster said staff at the agency plans a once-a-year getaway event where all staff take part. A professional speaker addressed issues of stress management and dealing with the trauma many child protection workers face. This year’s event was held at the St. George Arena and a professional caterer was hired to feed the 200-plus people at the day-long conference.
Koster said egg salad wraps, chicken wraps and potato salad were all on the menu for lunch.
“On Friday morning we had people calling saying ‘we’re down four people on our unit’ and people were reporting stomach pains and diarrhea.”
Workers continued to call in sick, although Koster said some employees, knowing their colleagues were more ill, came to work.
The Brant County Health Unit stepped in, pulling workers from other teams to assist the infectious diseases unit, which is leading an investigation, said Karen Boughner, the unit’s director of health protection.
“We have quite an investigative process for something like this,” said Boughner.
Health unit workers have interviewed both those who were sick after the event and those who weren’t, so they can try to pin down the food involved.
They collected and sent samples for lab analysis of some of the foods from the caterer. Similarly, they’ve collected stool samples from some of those who are the sickest and those have gone off for testing.
“The reportable diseases are tested at a public health lab in Hamilton but the less common, non-reportable ones are being tested separately at a different lab in Toronto.”
Boughner said it’s important to pin down the source of the illness since, if it was food sold at a grocery store, it could affect a wider population.
“We have our suspicions but we hope to be able to identify the virus and what they ate. We may have the results back as early as tomorrow.”
There are several hundred possible bacterias that can cause food poisoning, including salmonella, E. coli, listeria, botulism and norovirus.
Boughner said some of the workers are still unwell, seven days after the luncheon, but noted that certain enteric diseases can run for five to 10 days.
“It’s not unusual and it helps us narrow the field a bit when it comes to identification.”
As part of the investigation, the health unit has been reviewing the travel history of the catering staff. Boughner confirmed that one of the staff had recently returned from a Third World country but said the investigation had almost certainly determined that had no bearing on the food poisoning.
Boughner said the unit will not identify the caterer at this point, noting the problem may have been totally out of her hands if it was a contaminated product she purchased for the event.
Boughner said the situation wasn’t made public sooner because it didn’t affect the general public.
The health unit has been providing information sheets to Brant Family and Children’s Services and fielding questions by phone from those who are sick.
“My heart goes out to them,” says Boughner. “Those who are still sick are really sick.”
Koster said along with the health unit, the Ministry of Child and Youth Services were notified about the situation. On Thursday, rant Family and Children’s Services staff – most of whom are back at work - met with the health unit in several town hall meetings to get more information about the food-borne virus or bacteria.
“We’ve been asked to complete some questionnaires and we’ve cooperated with everyone,” Koster said. “It was really a shame because it was one of our best staff days and everyone was really enjoying having a chance to meet with each other.”
Koster didn’t get sick.
“I was busy doing other things and by the time I got to the table there was almost nothing left. I had a biscuit.”
Source: Brantford Expositor
September 22, 2015 permalink
Shawn Gartlan has been convicted of a criminal offense. Not mentioned in the Metroland news article, Mr Gartlan was a foster parent. A comment from aggrieved mother Alexandra Stuart follows the news article.
Woodville man gets jail time for possessing, making available child pornography
Shawn Gartlan, 51, sentenced to 12 months in jail, two years probation, 20 years under Sex Offender Information Registration Act after conviction of make available child pornography.
WOODVILLE - A Woodville man charged with possession of child pornography and making available child pornography has been sentenced to a year in jail.
In Lindsay court Thursday (Sept. 17), Shawn Gartlan, 51, pleaded guilty to one count of make available child pornography and one count of possessing child pornography.
For the charge of making child pornography available, Mr. Gartlan was sentenced to 12 months in jail and two years concurrent probation, as well as 20 years registered under the Sex Offender Information Registration Act (SOIRA).
For the offence of possession of child pornography, Mr. Gartlan received a concurrent sentence of six months of jail, two years of probation and 10 years registered under SOIRA.
Mr. Gartlan was charged in February, 2014, after a six-week child pornography investigation. He faced three counts of possession of child pornography and two counts of make available child pornography.
At the time of his arrest, OPP said the force’s Child Sexual Exploitation Unit, the OPP Technical Crime Unit and City of Kawartha Lakes OPP Detachment executed a search warrant at a Woodville residence and small business on Feb. 5. Three computers and other items were seized in relation to the investigation, which OPP allege contained images of child sexual abuse.
This Week was told Mr. Gartlan owned an area gas station and he was listed as the president of the Woodville Minor Hockey Association on their website.
Source: Metroland/My Kawartha
My son was living with Shawn Gartlan of Woodville, foster parent for CAS and respite for CAS and Hawk Homes. February 2014 he was charged with child porn and associated charges. After many CFSRB hearings, as CAS wouldn't move my son, as to not disrupt their bonding ... a quote from York CAS lawyer Nancy Guatto. Today Shawn Gartlan plead guilty in courtroom 3 at the Lindsay courthouse. I couldn't be there, don't know the sentence. Please add this pedo and child porn manufacturing, distributing and making available child porn convictions, a part of your fixcas please. This has been a long fight for me to get Mr Gartlan no not be a foster parent – kept getting it's alleged – so his surety since 2014 was another foster parent with 8 or so kids. The judge never heard that. Shawn wanted house arrest. His business a gas station is attached to his house, so I couldn't agree with that either. I'll call the courthouse tomorrow. Please print a story on this. York CAS placed my son in Kawartha CAS' district, but York kept and managed the file.
Kody Smart R.I.P.
July 26, 2015 permalink
Kody Smart passed away today at age thirteen months. Death was declared by McMaster Children's Hospital on July 26 at 5:51 pm. Kody was the grandson of Chris York.
For years Chris York has actively opposed Niagara CAS, both to protect his own family from child removal and to help others similarly threatened. A few times he humiliated CAS with victories in court cases. Chris appears over a dozen times in the fixcas index. He was recorded (mp4) at a Queens Park rally on May 17, 2010. Some of the other links to Chris York:       .
According to Chris the boy had a crushed skull, with brain injuries that overwhelmed the medical team. The damage is not what can be inflicted by a dog attack. Chris reported today that CAS responded to his pleas and removed the other grandchild from the home, but it remains with close relatives of the same grandparent.
Chris commented yesterday:
Currently sitting at McMaster hospital. Grandson was airlifted due to head injury. Child is in intensive care as a result and status is critical. Child is 13 months old and this happens in the home of the kinship provider. The home where he is at the one specific kinship provider has a history of child abuse against his own child and badly beat his own child when the child was 6 months of age. FACS Niagara is aware of this yet placed 2 children in their care regardless. These same people are currently in the room with the grandchild in the intensive care unit and CAS does not see any reason to remove any children from their career this time. They are claiming the dog knocked the child over and he hit his head. The child is unresponsive to tests at this time. If this was any other parent CAS would remove the children (all of them) first and ask questions later. Looks like they are going into cover up and protect mode. Lawyer is being notified at this time. Will update when and if I can. FACS NIAGARA PAY CLOSE ATTENTION I'M COMING AFTER YOU WITH MY LAWYERS... YOU WILL PAY FOR NOT LISTENING AND ALL YOUR LIES IN COURT SO FAR.
Source: Facebook, Stop the CAS ...
According to Chris CAS placed two children in the home of a grandparent with a known history of child abuse. Fixcas has followed enough of these cases to report in advance what will happen. If there is no press, CAS will quietly bury its mistake. But in case of an uproar the hapless grandparent will be charged with a crime. The social worker will get off scot free, and can look forward to regular promotions. No policy manual says this, and no social worker has ever stated it. But actions speak louder than words. Displease a social worker and a member of your family could die.
Source: Facebook, Stop the CAS ...
Addendum: Tuesday, July 28. Chris has been in contact with Ontario's Provincial Child Advocate Irwin Elman. Elman, who read about the death on fixcas, intervened to get FACS Niagara to take the surviving grandchild from kinship care and into foster care. He also got FACS to agree to assume all of Kody's funeral costs. Elman plans to attend the funeral. FACS refuses to let Chris and his wife see the surviving girl. One of their reasons for denying contact is x-rays showing the girl has broken bones. The kinship grandfather has obtained legal counsel and is saying nothing about the matter.
Addendum: Three days later the press gets to the story, though without the children's aid and foster care connections. The story clarifies that Chris York is the stepgrandfather, Kody was descended from Chris's wife.
'What I want is justice for Kody'
Brett Smart will never forget his 13-month-old son Kody’s final moments.
“The worst part was when they decided to take him off life support, and I felt his last heartbeat with my own hand,” said Smart. “What I want is justice for Kody. I want the person who did this to Kody to face justice.”
Kody Smart died at McMaster Children’s Hospital in Hamilton Sunday. Niagara EMS and police responded to a home on Thorold Townline Rd. at 10:30 a.m. Saturday after a 9-1-1 call reported a child in medical distress.
Kody was at another person's home at the time.
Niagara EMS took Kody to the St. Catharines Hospital and transferred to Hamilton the same day.
“In the hospital, they went to weigh Kody and I had to leave the room,” Brett said. “He was just limp. His arms and legs just dropped down.
“When you have a kid, you expect them to be putting you in the ground. Now it is the complete opposite.”
Niagara Regional Police are tight-lipped about their investigation, which Const. Phil Gavin said is ongoing in conjunction with the coroner.
“From what I understand, the officers from the homicide department are working overtime on this,” Smart said. “They want to get to the bottom of this.”
Chris York, Brett’s stepfather, said the family is in the process of making funeral arrangements, but even that is difficult.
“We are still waiting because they haven’t released the remains yet,” York said. “The tentative date of the funeral was supposed to be Friday, but we found out they likely aren’t going to release the remains until then, so it would be next week sometime.”
Source: St Catharines Standard
Addendum: In two articles the Toronto Star mentions the CAS connection, while omitting the name of the child or accused grandfather. Father Brett Smart warned CAS that Kody could die from placement with his grandfather previously convicted of abuse. There is no hint of malice on the part of the social worker.
Baby dies in custody of man with history of abuse
The death of a 13-month-old baby is being investigated by Niagara Regional police and the coroner’s office.
Niagara Regional Police and the Chief Coroner’s Office are investigating the death of a 13-month-old baby who was in the custody of a man previously convicted of abusing a baby.
The local children’s aid society was aware of the man’s criminal record when it approved the custody arrangement in May, a court document shows.
The baby boy was airlifted to McMaster Children’s Hospital with a head injury on Saturday and died in hospital on Sunday, according to the document.
An affidavit filed with the Ontario Court of Justice by the Children’s Aid Society of the Niagara Region said the society was aware the baby’s paternal grandfather had been convicted of assaulting his son, the baby’s father, two decades earlier, when he was just 6 months old.
The affidavit, filed Wednesday, concerns a second grandchild that was previously in the grandfather’s custody. It notes that the man “has a serious child protection history dating back to 1995 which relates to events when he was approximately 18 years old.” The grandfather, now in his mid-30s, “was convicted of physically abusing (his son) when he was six months of age.”
The Star is not publishing any names from the court document to protect the living child.
The affidavit mentions that the grandfather’s “criminal history included several charges” between 1992 and 1999 and that he had been investigated by the society for drug use and verbal abuse of a previous partner. Those allegations were not verified, according to the affidavit.
In the document, the society explains that the second grandchild, a 19-month-old girl, was placed in the care of the grandfather, and his spouse shortly after she was born because he “was open and honest about his criminal history and was willing to complete the necessary documents in order for the society to complete the assessment.”
That child had “unexplained injuries” when she was examined last weekend at the children’s hospital, the document said.
According to the affidavit, the grandfather told police that the baby boy who died Sunday was knocked over by the family’s 2-year-old Labrador, dog and hit his head on the hardwood floor. The grandfather said the baby seemed fine and then went “limp and was making gagging noises.”
“As a father, you want to protect your child,” the baby’s distraught father, 20, told the Star. “You don’t expect to put your child in a casket.”
A Niagara children’s aid official said he was not able to discuss the case due to legal and privacy concerns.
However executive director Chris Steven said the case was troubling.
“The death of a child under any circumstances like that is a tragedy and a loss we’re all concerned about,” he said in a telephone interview Wednesday night.
He said “it certainly is not our general practice” and “it would be unusual” to place a child in the care of people convicted of child abuse.
“As for potential care-givers, those histories are checked by staff,” he said. “All of that information is shared, along with any plans or concerns in a court form prior to an order being made for the placement of that child.”
Irwin Elman, Ontario’s advocate for children and youth, has offered his support to the deceased baby’s father.
“We are doing our best within the limits of our current mandate to understand what happened. To say that what I have heard so far is troubling is a colossal understatement,” he said in a statement Wednesday. “We await the results of the police investigation. Our hearts and thoughts are with those who loved the little boy.”
Source: Toronto Star
Dad of Niagara baby who died begged that boy not be placed with grandfather
Young father of dead baby warned children's aid not to place his boy with grandfather convicted of child abuse.
The father whose 13-month-old baby died last weekend while in the care of a convicted child abuser, said he pleaded with children’s aid not to place his son with his grandfather.
“On the morning of the apprehension… I said flat-out: ‘If you place him with my dad, you’re most likely going to kill my son’,” the 20-year-old father said about the day his baby was taken away. “I know that man, and he was violent with me my entire life.”
As reported in the Star Thursday, a court document shows the Niagara children’s aid society knew the grandfather had physically abused his own infant son in 1995. (The grandfather was just a teenager at the time and is now in his mid-30s, according to an affidavit filed Wednesday by Niagara children’s aid in the Ontario Court of Justice.)
In May, Niagara children’s aid placed the baby in the care of the grandfather and his wife.
The baby was rushed to hospital with head injuries last Saturday and died Sunday.
Niagara Regional Police and the coroner are investigating.
The affidavit concerns a second grandchild, a 19-month-old girl with “unexplained historical injuries” previously in the grandfather’s care.
The Star is not publishing any names to protect the living child.
The bereaved young father told the Star his own injuries at the hands of his father 20 years ago, when he was an infant, put him in hospital for three weeks.
“It was extremely touch and go. For the first week, the doctors didn’t know if I was going to live because I had severe head trauma as well,” he said.
Although he never lived with his father again for any significant time, he lived with his paternal grandfather and his wife for about eight years and continued to see his father.
“I got hit with a belt, a shovel,” he said. “I thought it was just discipline.”
Efforts to reach the grandfather Thursday were unsuccessful.
According to the affidavit, the grandfather told police that the baby boy who died Sunday was knocked over by the family’s 2-year-old Labrador, dog and hit his head on the hardwood floor. The grandfather said the baby seemed fine and then went “limp and was making gagging noises.”
In the document, children’s aid explains that the second grandchild was placed in the grandfather’s care in March 2014, shortly after she was born, because he “was open and honest about his criminal history and was willing to complete the necessary documents in order for the society to complete the assessment.”
The baby’s death raises fresh questions in light of the Jeffrey Baldwin case.
The 5-year-old boy died of starvation in 2002 while in the care of his maternal grandparents who were later found to have been convicted of abusing their own children.
At the time of Jeffrey’s death, children’s aid workers had not been required to do background checks when they placed children with other family members. Since 2006, all potential caregivers, including extended family members and kin, are required to undergo extensive background checks for any previous criminal or child protection concerns.
But as the Niagara case shows, children’s aid workers continue to place children in the care of people with child abuse convictions, said NDP Children’s critic Monique Taylor.
“The fact that this child was placed in the custody of a known offender raises serious questions about oversight,” she said Thursday. “We urge the government to fully examine how such a terrible tragedy was allowed to occur and to take steps to prevent an incident like this from ever happening again in Ontario.”
Chris Steven, executive director of Family and Children’s Services Niagara, which includes children’s aid in the area, was not able to comment on the case due to legal and privacy concerns.
However, he said such placements are “not our general practice” and are “unusual.”
The Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies, which represents the province’s 46 societies, said circumstances have changed since the Baldwin case.
Although background checks are now required for all placements, there is also a new emphasis on keeping families together.
“There is a desire to maintain family bonds whenever possible,” said the association spokesperson Caroline Newton.
“That may have been a factor in trying to weigh risk and the best interest of the child,” added Newton, who said she did not know the details of the Niagara case.
Ontario Children’s Minister Tracy MacCharles expressed shock and sadness about the boy’s death.
“My heart goes out to the family and those touched by these devastating events,” she said in a statement. “Whenever a child dies, we have a responsibility to learn from what happened and take all necessary steps to prevent similar tragedies in the future.”
Source: Toronto Star
The funeral will be on Tuesday, August 4. Link for obituary and announcement. It is open to the public.
Foster Sex Change
July 4, 2015 permalink
When a foster girl wanted to become a boy, Durham CAS turned her into Brandon Fiedler.
Durham Children’s Aid Society using anti-oppressive practice
New approach to child welfare to be more inclusive of diversity of local families
DURHAM -- Brandon Fiedler was born a girl but never felt right wearing dresses or pigtails.
As a result, Brandon started lashing out at a young age.
“Since I was in like Grade 2, I really started dressing like a male. I got my hair cut. I was just always into the guy things. I played hockey and soccer for a bit,” he said. “I thought it was impossible to truly be myself because I never heard the term transgender.”
When Brandon was in Grade 7 or 8, the Durham Children’s Aid Society started to get involved in his life, and went to his school an a number of occasions because of his behaviour problems. He eventually started living in group homes.
Since then, he’s grown leaps and bounds. He is the first youth to have his name and gender legally changed while in CAS care.
“It’s changed my life. I’m actually me now,” he said.
Mr. Fiedler was at the public launch of the Durham CAS Anti-Oppressive Practice on June 2.
Challenging the impacts of power and privilege, eliminating barriers for individuals and families, and ensuring that services are inclusive of the broad range of diversity in Durham Region, are the fundamental principles behind AOP.
Community members heard stories from former CAS youth who have experienced oppression in their lives, and witnessed the unveiling of the new “Living Wall” -- an artistic expression of anti-oppression.
Durham CAS executive director Wanda Secord said the adoption of AOP principles is changing the way CAS engages with families. She said CAS must understand how the child welfare system impacts families, particularly marginalized individuals, and minoritized communities.
“It is important that those children, youth and families who are most impacted by child welfare have the opportunity to influence or change the system so that the power imbalance is corrected across the board for everyone,” she said.
She said expanding partnerships with more diverse organizations and doing everything possible to keep children in their own communities are some of the ways to improve outcomes.
“The idea is to reach out to groups that we don’t know a lot about and who may not know a lot about the Children’s Aid Society, as well to build an understanding and awareness of one another,” said Ms. Secord in an interview.
Mr. Fiedler said he’s happy about the AOP, but has seen his share of ups and downs in the organization. At one point, he lived in 11 homes in one year.
However, his life changed for the better when from 2011 to 2013, he lived at Iris House in Oshawa.
“It was more like an independent house and the staff actually cared about the kids there,” he said. “Whenever I was down, they were there for me.”
He’s now out of CAS care, and maintains a good relationship with his own family.
Because of some of the challenges he’s experienced with CAS, and because some of the others he grew up with haven’t had the successful outcome he has, he is skeptical of the new approach.
“I think it’s really good that they’re trying to start it,” he said. “I’m afraid they’re just doing this and they’re going to want to give up on it again. They’ve said before they’re going to change many things.”
Ms. Secord said the organization has taken a number of steps, starting with hiring an internal anti-oppressive expert, and has developed a comprehensive infrastructure within staff based on committee and program development.
She said CAS is educating and increasing awareness of all of its staff and supervisors within the organization about what the issues are and how it can improve the practice.
“It is going to take commitment absolutely, commit and people just continuing to learn and reach out to communities and learn what else is out there to help families,” she said. “We can’t just take a cookie-cutter approach to child welfare.”
Mr. Fiedler is going to remain hopeful.
“Hopefully this is the start to something new,” he said.
Dr. Wanda Thomas Bernard, an internationally recognized AOP expert and advocate, spoke at the launch after Mr. Fiedler and another CAS youth, who has overcome racism in the community. Dr. Bernard said she had mixed emotions -- saddened by what they went through, but pleased with their progress.
“But still they rise, still they keep going,” she said.
A social worker for 40 years, Dr. Bernard says she’s been praying for this sort of institutional change her entire career.
“You’re one of the few in Canada that has this specific, bold statement,” she said of the approach, which CAS has been working on for about three years.
Source: Metroland/Durham Region
Family Lawyer Bombed
July 4, 2015 permalink
Winnipeg family lawyer Maria Mitousis has been injured by a bomb blast.
Bomb blast injures lawyer
Package with explosives sent to firm in a targeted attack: police
A Winnipeg lawyer was seriously injured when she opened a package that was rigged with an explosive device -- a crime police said was a targeted attack.
Maria Mitousis, 38, was in critical condition following Friday morning's bombing inside the Petersen King law office at 252 River Ave. Witnesses described seeing her rushed out of the building, covered in blood, and taken to hospital.
"It's not good," her common-law partner, lawyer Barry Gorlick, told the Free Press in a brief phone call before she went into surgery for extensive wounds to her upper body, including her throat and stomach.
The Canadian Press reported Mitousis had lost a hand and was in danger of losing her other hand.
"It's very serious. I've been a cop for nearly 30 years; we don't see a lot of bombings in our city. It's a very unusual event, a very tragic event," Supt. Danny Smyth said.
"It's being investigated as a specific crime at this point. We don't consider this to be a general threat to the public or any other businesses at this time. We have no reason to believe this is an attack on the justice system," he said.
Police provided few details about the explosive device or whether it was mailed or dropped off.
"However it came into her possession, it was triggered inadvertently by the woman," Const. Eric Hofley said.
Several colleagues of Mitousis told the Free Press there were just a couple of lawyers in the building at the time of the blast.
"We don't know if she was the specific target," Smyth said Friday.
Smyth acknowledged the relationship between Mitousis and Gorlick, but refused to connect the bombing to Gorlick, a veteran lawyer who was disbarred this week after admitting to 15 counts of professional misconduct.
The Free Press reported on Gorlick's case in an edition that was published hours before the explosion, detailing how he admitted to a string of offences, including misappropriating huge sums from several clients and botching cases.
Justice sources said there's no doubt Gorlick has made enemies, but he never worked at the law firm where the explosion occurred.
The first report of an explosion came in at around 10:15 a.m., and an officer who was nearby was the first on the scene.
The bombing triggered tumult in the surrounding neighbourhood and downtown and rattled members of the tight-knit legal community.
Residents near the law office were told to stay inside as police searched the area, and the nearby Midtown Bridge was shut down for about five hours.
Workers at the Monk Goodwin law office on the eighth floor at 444 St. Mary Ave. downtown left their building and called police, who blocked off the area for several hours as members of the bomb unit looked for explosives. Mitousis had worked at that firm until last fall.
Police said they found no suspicious packages in the Monk Goodwin law office.
The Law Society of Manitoba sent a notice to lawyers, warning them to "exercise caution when dealing with mail and deliveries." It cited the package that exploded, along with a "suspicious envelope" that was sent to another firm earlier this week.
But police reiterated they didn't believe the bombing to be a threat to the legal community or the public.
"We're treating this right now as a very specific crime, until we learn otherwise," Smyth said.
Hours later, the bomb squad was called in to probe a third incident.
Around 6 p.m., police barricaded a section of Broadway and Hargrave Street as the bomb squad searched another building. Details were not immediately available Friday night.
Kris Dangerfield, CEO of the Law Society of Manitoba called the bombing "highly unusual."
She said there are few reasons a law firm would close temporarily for reasons beyond its control.
"While my immediate concern would be the health and safety of the staff, there is an obligation on lawyers to care for a client's property as a careful and prudent lawyer would.
"In this instance, that would be addressed by ensuring that the premises remain secure during the investigation."
Source: Winnipeg Free Press
Foster Care Kills Thousands
June 23, 2015 permalink
Lily Marie Brown was taken at birth in Boston and cared for by the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families. When a foster carer became overburdened the state sloughed her off onto National Mentor, an arm of a for-profit child care corporation. She died on January 21, 2012 at the age of two months and five days. A Massachusetts investigation determined that neglect contributed to the death. The girl died of SIDS in a home where the foster parents had not been advised on safe sleeping practice. When a Buzzfeed reporter asked for documents on the girl, the state reclassified is as not neglectful. As such they claimed the had the right, and legal obligation, to keep the record confidential.
The fixcas list of children dying in out-of-home care has reached 2001 names. Of these, about 15 percent were adopted, another 5 percent came in contact with the justice system as teenagers. The rest were in some form of temporary care, such as foster homes or group homes. The best statistical estimate is that only on foster death in 20 makes it into the press, and on to the list.
There are some distortions in the list. The median age in the list is five years, though scholarly sources say it should be lower. Child protectors are usually more successful in suppressing news of baby deaths, as they almost did with Lily Marie, than with teenagers. Since the year 2000 the list shows 37 names in Alberta, only 22 (only 20 from the press) in Ontario though Ontario has 3.5 times the population. That could be because foster care in Ontario is extraordinarily safe, or because Ontario is more successful at suppressing news. You decide.
A 2-month-old infant girl died while in the care of America’s largest for-profit foster care company. Then, state officials tried to keep details of her death secret. A BuzzFeed News investigation.
The grounds of St. Mary’s Cemetery in Lynn, Massachusetts, slope up to the southwest in terraced sections bordered by a mossy stone wall. Tucked toward the top of the rise is a small section where they bury babies. Tiny graves, each about 24 inches wide, are lined up together.
In one row, the third baby grave from the left could be mistaken for a gap between graves, a break in the line, because it is unmarked and has no headstone. Still, there is a homemade cross pounded into the ground: two pieces of wood nailed together. The white paint is fading.
And though there is no name there, in this ground a little baby girl, who died in January 2012, is buried. The baby died eight days after she was put in the care of a giant corporation, the nation’s biggest for-profit foster care provider, National Mentor Holdings. It’s a company that has a troubled record, as a recent BuzzFeed News investigation showed, and it operates thousands of foster homes nationwide, 500 of them in Massachusetts.
For years, the state child welfare agency would try to keep secret the facts of the baby’s death — even her name.
This is that baby’s story, drawn from confidential state documents and interviews.
The infant girl was healthy, and she was just under 2 months old when the state of Massachusetts placed her with Mentor. She had brown eyes, and her hair had not yet begun to grow, just a bit of brown fuzz. She was a fussy infant who was content only if she was snuggled in someone’s arms. The state child welfare bureaucracy had taken her from her parents, because the couple were homeless and indigent, and they had criminal records for serious violence.
That winter day, the baby was brought upstairs to the second floor of a yellow clapboard building on Mason Street in Beverly, Massachusetts. In that home lived the foster parents, whom Mentor had selected, trained, and managed.
But there was a glaring safety problem. For decades, public service campaigns in the U.S. have drilled it into to parents, health care professionals, and child-care workers that the leading cause of death in infants is SIDS, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
The most effective prevention is painfully simple: Put babies to sleep on their backs, and keep loose blankets and pillows out of their cribs so they don’t overheat or suffocate.
The looming danger was also painfully simple: National Mentor, the company that put the baby girl there in that home, had never taught the foster parents about safe sleeping practices for babies.
As BuzzFeed News has previously reported, there have been at least six deaths of otherwise healthy infants and children in Mentor foster homes nationwide in the last 10 years. Children in Mentor’s care have died in Texas, Pennsylvania, and Florida. There have been cases of long-term, serial sexual abuse, and other violence. Investigators in Illinois found “a culture of incompetence” at the company. Authorities in Texas have found widespread problems with Mentor’s foster care operations.
Mentor, which trades on the New York Stock exchange as Civitas Solutions, Inc., reported $1.2 billion in revenue last year. Some former employees contend that pressure for profits has made the company cut corners on care, a charge Mentor denies.
But the case of the two-month-old baby girl in Massachusetts, buried in the unmarked grave, stands apart. That’s because of the lengths that the state Department of Children and Families has gone to keep the circumstances of her death secret.
There were official investigations done, though they were kept from the public. One state agency found “serious violations of child placement regulations” by National Mentor. The company was getting paid $50.94 per day as a fee in addition to what it paid the foster parents, but it never once sent anyone to the home to check on the baby after she was dropped off. Nor did the company get the baby’s medical records to prepare the parents for any potential problems.
And an early investigation by the state agency that actually took the baby from her real parents, the Department of Children and Families, ruled that there had been “neglect” in the death. “The DCF Special Investigations Unit supported the allegations of neglect and death” by the foster father, the report said. An investigator wrote that “it is likely her death was related to the unsafe sleeping conditions.” The father was never charged with criminal neglect.
Although the state did not require Mentor to teach its foster parents how they could avoid SIDS, the investigators wrote that “the management staff at Mentor hold some degree of responsibility for failing to train their foster parents around what constitutes a safe sleep environment.”
By “neglect,” the report meant that the foster father working for Mentor hadn’t provided the baby minimal standards of care. The neglect finding had other ramifications: Federal law encourages states to publicly disclose child deaths resulting from “abuse or neglect.” And without “abuse or neglect” findings, Massachusetts state officials say information must be withheld from the public.
The baby’s real parents, homeless and impoverished, told BuzzFeed News they were never told about the possible neglect of their daughter. Nor, they said, were they told that it was a huge private company, contracted by the state, that was responsible for her. Or that the most elementary and well-known safe infant sleep practices were violated.
That “neglect” finding stood hidden for two and a half years, until BuzzFeed News started asking the state of Massachusetts about it. It was only then that a top official in the state child welfare agency formally reversed the finding, ruling that there was no neglect in the death of the little girl after all, in spite of the way she was put to sleep, and in spite of Mentor’s violations of its own protocols and state rules.
And up until last week, three and a half years after the girl’s short life ended, the agency maintained that it was allowed to keep almost everything about her a secret.
The girl was born Nov. 16, 2011, at Boston Medical Center. She was a big baby at 8 pounds, 9 ounces. The hospital workers put a stethoscope to her chest to listen to her heartbeat, gently felt her tiny arms and legs to gauge her muscle tone, and monitored her breathing. It was all part of the standard Apgar test, which measures a newborn’s health. She scored a strong and healthy 9, just shy of a perfect 10.
Still, she was born to heartbreaking circumstances. The mother, who had alcohol and drug problems, according to government reports, had another daughter who had been taken from her by the state, after nine previous run-ins with the child protection agency. And during the little baby’s pregnancy, records allege the mother tested positive for opiates, oxycodone, and other tranquilizers but was clean when she gave birth, and the baby was as well. Speaking on condition of anonymity, the mother denied using illegal drugs while pregnant.
Randell Brown, the baby’s father, told BuzzFeed News he himself grew up in group homes. He’s been jailed several times for assault, once involving a knife. In an interview at a homeless shelter in Cambridge, he said his only source of income was Social Security disability, and he acknowledged the couple wouldn’t have been able to raise the girl on that.
“I’m not denying the fact that DCF took her to be safe,” he said. Brown remembered the first night his daughter was born, when he stayed in the recovery room. The baby wouldn’t sleep. “She was crying so I picked her up and laid on my back, and she slept. I stayed overnight, and she slept right next to me.”
Records show that a week after she was born, DCF workers took the baby from the hospital and put her into her first foster home. This one was overseen by the state itself, and for a while that worked well. But the strain was too great. That foster mother said she couldn’t take care of an infant because she had too many other children in the home.
Still, she wrote up her experiences, apparently with love and humor, in a letter that was meant to go to whoever took care of the baby next. The girl was “particularly fretful” in the evening, the woman wrote. In the baby’s “perfect world,” the foster mother continued, “she would like to be carried around and held all day.” But there was no perfect world. Her real parents were allowed to visit her just once a week, and no one in the system had the time to hold and comfort the baby as much as she liked.
So the second Friday of January, a state worker took the letter and the baby. First, the infant got to see her birth parents, by now living in a nearby shelter together. They held her and calmed her.
Then the state worker drove the baby to the Mentor foster home in Beverly, a working-class city just north of Boston, on the water. The home, three stories, was on a quiet street in the center of town.
In 2012, in Massachusetts, Mentor made $17.5 million, according to a DCF spokesperson. The firm was getting paid just over $100 per day for each child to provide expensive and specialized homes, where children receive therapeutic care. $50 of that would go to the foster parents themselves, who operated as subcontractors to Mentor.
But after that first day, no one from Mentor showed up to check up on the baby girl for more than a week, in violation of Mentor’s own policies. The firm’s supervisor was going to assign a “coordinator” — a kind of social worker — whose job would be to meet with the baby and the foster parents. But the supervisor didn’t talk to the coordinator until a week had passed, according to a state investigation, and did so only when the two ran into each other near a copy machine.
Safe sleeping practices may sound pro-forma, but they are not. “A safe sleep environment is one of the most important things you can do to protect your child in the first year of life,” said Dr. Linda Fu, a pediatrician at Children’s National Health System. “It’s not something that can be taken lightly.”
On a Saturday, the eighth day that the baby was at the Mentor foster home, the snow fell steadily for hours, the first snowstorm of the winter. Francisco Bloise was at home with the baby and did his best to help her sleep. After all, Mentor, which employed him as a foster father, hadn’t told him that what he was doing could help cause her death.
Reports obtained by BuzzFeed News show that the baby was dressed in layers. She was in a “onesie,” over which was a set of fleece pajamas. Bloise swaddled her up, covered her with a crocheted blanket, and then, to prop her up on her side, he rolled up the edges of another blanket into cylinders, so they formed little walls around her, buttresses to prop her on her side. It was in complete contradiction to the standard of care.
By 10:45 a.m., as the snow continued falling outside, the girl’s foster mother had come home. She checked on the baby, and she found the little infant girl in her crib, blankets all around her, on her stomach, and she was not breathing. Her skin was “all sweaty.” The mother called 911. Her CPR certificate had expired — a violation of Mentor’s own policies, state investigators would later note — but she started infant CPR on the baby. Still, the infant was pronounced dead at 11:59 a.m., just about an hour later, at Beverly Hospital.
Brown, her real father, said he and the mother were called later that afternoon, at the homeless shelter where they lived. They had seen their daughter just the day before, and now they were told she was dead.
In Massachusetts, National Mentor is not just a major contractor, but an institution whose very DNA is intertwined with state government and social services. Edward Murphy, the current executive chairman of Mentor, was a former commissioner of the Massachusetts Division of Youth Services. Bruce Nardella, Mentor’s current CEO, was former deputy commissioner at that agency. The chair of the board of directors was a staffer in the Massachusetts Senate. Sarah Magazine, the spokesperson, worked in the Massachusetts governor’s office from 2000 to 2003. Dwight Robson, Mentor’s chief public strategy and marketing officer, was at the state treasury. One of Mentor’s vice presidents is married to state Sen. Thomas McGee, the head of the state Democratic Party.
“It is inaccurate to imply that there are a significant number of individuals working at The MENTOR Network who previously held high-ranking positions in Massachusetts state government,” Mentor said in statement. (Mentor markets itself as “The Mentor Network.”) “Of The Network’s corporate employees, less than 2% worked in leadership roles in Massachusetts state government.”
In a 2013 filing to the federal Securities and Exchange Commission, Mentor wrote that “we rely in part on establishing and maintaining relationships with officials of various government agencies, primarily at the state and local level but also including federal agencies.” But the company denies that it has any particular political clout in Massachusetts or that it exerted any political influence in the investigation into the baby’s death.
How could a little baby in such a company’s care die and yet remain anonymous? Back in late 2014, when BuzzFeed News began to investigate National Mentor, there were few publicly known facts about the girl’s death, certainly not her name. There were reports of the death of a 2-month-old and of an administrative finding of neglect in her death.
So, in November 2014, BuzzFeed News sent a request to DCF, asking for all records of the baby’s death.
On Dec. 11, 2014, the top lawyer at DCF, Andrew Todd Rome, said he would provide no information to BuzzFeed News, because, he said, there had been no neglect in the child’s death. The records were “exempt from disclosure,” he wrote, “as the death of the infant was not related to abuse or neglect.”
It was illegal for him to tell us anything, he claimed. “Both state and federal laws and regulations,” he wrote, “preclude the Department from disclosing information regarding a child fatality absent a finding of abuse or neglect.”
That letter to BuzzFeed News was actually the culmination of an elaborate process, the final knot in a long and secretive bureaucratic trail by which the death of an anonymous, healthy baby, first ruled to be caused by neglect, was eventually transformed by the child welfare administration into nothing more than an unfortunate incident for which no one was to blame — and nothing need be disclosed. The life of the baby in the unmarked grave could be kept a secret.
Here is how that process worked.
In the aftermath of the infant girl’s death, in April 2012, DCF, which had contracted with Mentor and put the baby in the firm’s care, ruled that the baby’s death involved “neglect” by the foster father. “The allegation of neglect and death will be SUPPORTED,” the report stated.
But then Mentor hired a lawyer for the foster father to appeal the “neglect” finding. The company said it paid for the lawyer because the “extenuating circumstances” of the case “warranted our support.” The hearing was not open to the public. The lawyer, Steven Broadley, recalled in an interview that he argued that Mentor’s foster father took care of the child “in compliance with the training he had.”
A DCF worker, Maura Bradford, heard the case and wrote up her recommendation in February 2013. She didn’t respond to requests for comment, but in the report she reasoned that there was no case for neglect: Even though the baby had died of SIDS and had been put to sleep in a way that put the infant at risk for SIDS, no “causal link” had been established between these two facts. Since the death was “unexplained” — as most SIDS deaths are — and was not demonstrably connected to the unsafe sleeping conditions in the crib, the allegation of neglect, she wrote, should be “reversed.”
Robert Fellmeth, professor at the University of San Diego School of Law, was astonished when told of the reasoning. “To say that an infant dying of SIDS is not neglect after being put in the wrong position is insulting,” he said. “This foster parent is an agent of the corporation; if he’s not neglectful, they are. When you have people in that situation who don’t understand how to deal with SIDS, that’s neglect. I’m sorry! There are things you have to know, the absence of which is negligence.”
Right or wrong, Bradford’s recommendation to reverse the neglect finding was effectively just that — a recommendation. It wouldn’t take effect and become a final decision until it was signed and approved by her boss, according to a top DCF lawyer. So the recommendation to overturn the neglect finding lingered there in the file, not acted upon, and the department continued to consider the baby’s death a case of neglect.
Indeed, about three months after Bradford made her recommendation, Angelo McClain, who had just stepped down as head of DCF, was under oath in a lawsuit. He testified that his staff had found neglect in the death of the baby girl.
“Have you ever disputed that finding?” the lawyer, Sara Bartosz, of Children’s Rights, asked him.
“No,” he replied.
It was BuzzFeed News’ request for information that triggered the formal reversal of the neglect finding — a reversal that the state then used to reject the request for information.
On Dec. 11, 2014, DCF general counsel Rome wrote a letter to Broadley, the lawyer Mentor had hired for the foster father. “The Department has now unsupported the allegations,” Rome wrote. Broadley said it was the first he had heard of the case in almost two years; before then, he had never been told the outcome of the appeal.
On the very same day, Dec. 11, 2014, Rome also wrote to BuzzFeed News, declining to release any information on the grounds that the baby’s death did not involve any neglect.
To put it plainly: On one and the same day, Rome officially determined that there was no neglect in the girl’s death and also told BuzzFeed News that because there was no neglect, the department could withhold virtually all information about her case.
Broadley laughed when he heard Rome wrote to him and BuzzFeed News on the same day. “I’m not an investigative reporter,” he said. “It could be a coincidence! It could be related. I’m not in a position to speculate about that.”
Rome declined to speak on the record for this story. BuzzFeed News has been seeking documents from him for seven months.
But two senior officials at the Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services, which oversees DCF, defended the way Rome handled the case. Speaking on condition of anonymity, they insisted that the timing was a coincidence, not a cover-up.
One of the officials offered this explanation: Rome, he said, “gets the public record request. He opens up the file. And there’s an unsigned recommendation, signed by the hearing officer, to reverse, to overturn, the finding of neglect. No one had closed the loop on that hearing officer’s decision. If you want to say, ‘That doesn’t sound acceptable that it would take that long to approve a recommendation,’ I won’t quibble with that. But there’s nothing nefarious about that!”
The other official said, “We acknowledge the timing is strange.”
In the end, BuzzFeed News obtained from other sources many of the documents DCF tried to keep secret. But the name of the little baby who had died remained unknown. She was anonymous.
Then, this March, the city clerk of Beverly, Massachusetts, found a death certificate of an infant who died on Jan. 21, 2012, aged 2 months and 5 days. There it was, under “decedent name”:
Lily Marie Brown.
Her birth father said he and the mother were given Lily Marie’s body back by the state, after she died. “I said, ‘So why didn’t you give her back before, when she was alive?’”
He said the couple was briefed a few times about Lily Marie’s death. It was SIDS, they were told. But even though their parental rights had never been terminated, they were told nothing about the investigation, Brown said, or the neglect finding, or the sleeping practices. “They didn’t tell us exactly how she was sleeping. On her back, her stomach, or her side. Or if anything was in the crib. They didn’t know nothing like that.”
The mother also said she’d been told very little. When BuzzFeed News informed her that state investigators found that Mentor hadn’t trained the foster parents in safe sleeping practices, she said, “That’s ridiculous.” After that brief telephone conversation, she declined to comment further.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, a top state official declined to say what the parents were told.
Bloise, the foster father who was initially found to have neglected the baby, now works in construction. He told BuzzFeed News that he and the others in his household were fond of Lily Marie. He said his actions back in 2012 had nothing to do with the baby’s death, and he is still skeptical of the widespread recommendations for safe sleeping practices. “The baby is sleeping that way, or sleeping this way,” he said. “For me, the baby needs to be comfortable. As long as she is sleeping comfortably, that’s it.”
Lily Marie was buried Feb. 1, 2012.
“I couldn’t afford a headstone,” her father said.
For months, BuzzFeed News and its lawyers have negotiated for documents and information related to Lilly Marie Brown’s death — and DCF kept changing its stance.
In April, the agency gave a new legal interpretation that was even more strict than what it had said in December: Even if there was a finding of abuse, the department could say nothing about Lily Marie’s death.
And then, late last week, after BuzzFeed News told state officials that this story was soon to be published, there was a 180-degree pivot. Suddenly, the general counsel of HHS, Jesse Caplan, emailed a copy of the death certificate, confirming the baby’s name. Caplan also emailed the recommendation from the foster father’s appeal.
In short, after seven months of claiming that it was legally barred from releasing this information, DCF made an abrupt U-turn. Why? It’s unclear. A top lawyer at HHS said there had been no new interpretation of the law.
One gray day this June, a cemetery worker at St. Mary’s walked the row of baby graves, and then opened up his handwritten book to double-check if the unmarked plot was indeed the right one. “Yes,” he nodded, pointing with his finger at the name. “Right here. That’s her. Lily Marie.” In the grass there, where she’s buried, someone left a small Bible. Because of time and weather, it’s disintegrating now, its cover missing, torn to a random page.
“The cause of death in this tragic case back in 2012 was SIDS,” DCF spokesperson Rhonda Mann wrote in a statement to BuzzFeed News. “The child did not die as a result of abuse or neglect.”
For its part, Mentor seemed to acknowledge that the lack of safe sleep conditions may indeed have contributed to the girl’s death. In a statement, a company spokesperson wrote, “It is important to note that the cause of death was ‘sudden unexplained death’ and that there may have been other pre-existing conditions — beyond the manner in which the baby was placed to sleep — that, sadly, contributed to this child’s passing.”
The state and Mentor say that after Lily Marie’s death the company began training its foster parents in safe sleep practices. Last year, National Mentor won a new five-year foster care contract in Massachusetts.
At the cemetery, it was lightly raining, but yellow buttercups sprouted in the grass. Petals from the flowers of a black locust tree, 30 yards away, had been carried by the wind, and they sprinkled Lily Marie’s grave.
The original story contains pictures of the family, the grave and some documents.
June 18, 2015 permalink
Three years ago fixcas reported on Mark MacDiarmid.  . Children's aid seized his children on the pretext of the father's obesity. Mark has posted an update on his situation. One of his children, Logan, has already been placed with a prospective adoptive family.
*UPDATE* Sorry for the wait but I needed to inform my family before I made an announcement on FaceBook.
I had a meeting today with Children's Aid Society of Ottawa to discuss the future of my children. The Ottawa Police were called by myself for a "keep the peace" order because I will not allow another unwarranted restraining order against me. I have never threatened CAS with anything other then legal action.
What I learned was that my youngest son, Logan, has been matched with a family and is in the early process of being adopted. Darwin, my eldest son has not been placed. The CAS will decide in the next week if they are willing to "open the door" to any kind of access or custody of Darwin to myself.
It should go without saying I'm going to fight the adoption order in any legal form that I can. I will never walk away from either of my children. So half the "LEGAL WAR" is about to start. I will find out next week if it will be a partnership or an all out legal war for custody of my eldest son. Obviously I'll be in court asap.
Thank you all for your support and kind words I've received a ton of messages and emails from old friends who are appalled at my situation. Your words are an incredible comfort in my sorrow filled world. You know who your friends are when times are gloomy, not golden.
Source: Facebook, Mark MacDiarmid
Europe Marches Against Child Protectors
June 7, 2015 permalink
Christopher Booker reports on a rising tide of opposition to child protectors across Europe.
A rising tide of anger across Europe at 'Nazi’ social workers
Last weekend, hundreds of Norwegians and foreign parents marched on the parliament in Oslo to protest children being taken into 'care' by the state
Even I was rather surprised to see a newspaper headline reporting that the president of the Czech Republic had accused the social workers of another European country of acting “like Nazis”. As it happens, he was not talking about our own much-loved social workers but those of Norway, who four years ago took two little Czech boys into foster care, after one of them told a teacher at nursery school that his Daddy had “groped inside his pyjamas”.
Although no other evidence was given for removing the children, and the strain of the case eventually led their parents to divorce, the Norwegian authorities have refused to return the boys to their distraught mother, who has only been allowed to see them for 15 minutes twice a year and forbidden to speak with them in Czech. It was this which prompted the Czech president Milo Zeman to compare Norway’s child protection system to the Nazis’ Lebensborn forced adoption policy.
Last weekend, hundreds of Norwegians and foreign parents marched on the parliament in Oslo to protest about this and scores of similar cases, such as that of a little Russian boy seized last October after he had told his classmates that his mother had “knocked out his tooth”. Although it was only a loose baby one, she was accused of “abusing” her son.
All across Europe there is a rising tide of angry concern at the readiness of social workers in various countries, including Britain, to remove children into foster care for similarly vacuous reasons. I have reported here on the three-year battle of a Russian-Latvian family living in Holland to get the return of two young twins who were removed kicking and screaming by Dutch social workers and police, because they spoke Russian not Dutch at home. This year a senior Dutch judge finally freed the children on the grounds that the reasons for their removal had been absurd. In 2013 I reported on how our Court of Appeal ordered the return to Slovakia of two small boys who had been held miserably in care for two years by Surrey social workers for similarly trumped-up reasons.
In February, after an extensive inquiry led by a Russian doctor, Olga Borzova, a Council of Europe report called on member states, including Britain, to stop the unwarranted removal of children in ways which breached families’ human rights. Last month there was remarkable meeting to discuss this issue at the Slovak embassy in London, attended not just by representatives of all the eastern European countries but by no fewer than 10 of our own High Court judges, led by Sir James Munby, the head of the Family Division.
There are signs that this immense scandal is at last being taken seriously by some of those who matter.
Source: Telegraph (UK)
June 3, 2015 permalink
The job of family court judge is dangerous. Judges live in fear of the litigants before them. One British judge expressed it: "We shouldn't have to walk in the public corridors of a building where we have just removed someone's child for ever." Maybe he should consider another way to ensure his safety. Leave children with their parents.
Family judges seek protection from parents in 'unsafe' courts
Dangerously inadequate security arrangements during family cases leave officials vulnerable to attack, say judges
Family judges across England say they fear being attacked by angry or disturbed parents because security in court is often dangerously inadequate.
It is rare for judges to raise their concerns publicly, but a number have taken the unusual step of speaking out to criticise security at the principal registry of the family division (PRFD) in central London, and also at district courts around the country.
In one incident, a female judge was seriously injured in an attack. Judges also told of parents shouting threats at them, as well as throwing books and cups.
"I have been threatened," one judge told the Guardian, speaking under condition of anonymity. "A very angry father stood up and shouted antisemitic threats at me. Another father threw a cup of water across the courtroom. Another parent threw a book, but fortunately I was too far away for it to reach me."
A second judge, also speaking anonymously, said of the PRFD: "I'm constantly, constantly exposed when I work there. There's no security in the courtroom. None. Sometimes we are in the courtroom alone with a parent. Most commonly, we sit with a clerk, who, in my experience, is always an elderly woman. If anything went wrong, believe you me, she would not be the one defending me.
"We shouldn't have to walk in the public corridors of a building where we have just removed someone's child for ever," the judge added. "At the PRFD, there are no private corridors for judges at all, which means we have to walk through public waiting areas and corridors when moving between courtrooms, entering and leaving the building. We can't even go to the loo without passing through a public area. I feel uncomfortable every time I have to do it. I'm very aware of the constant risk."
A third judge who has worked in the PRFD and courts across London said: "Most district judges, even those doing highly charged family cases, do not have courtrooms at all but hear the cases in their chambers with the public sitting around the table, and they don't have anyone in the court room at all. I have never understood why it is thought that they are less at risk than the higher judiciary."
One circuit judge, who sits in county and crown courts and also in the family division in London, said security arrangements were inadequate. "These are the most volatile, sensitive courts in the land, and one of these days there's going to be trouble in them. The risks are not being addressed properly and unless someone starts considering the security properly then it's a disaster waiting to happen. It will take one serious incident and someone will wake up to the fact that the system is not safe for family judges."
The Guardian has learned of a recent incident when a female judge was seriously injured by an aggrieved parent in the courtroom. The judge has confirmed the violent and deliberate attack but preferred not to give details.
"While it's true that you can't exclude a chance of an attack … the question is whether the essential issue of us judges being hidden away from the public is being complied with, and the answer is, it's not," said a judge who hears cases in the PRFD. "The second question is how protected we judges are when in the courtroom," she said. "The answer to that question is, again, that we're not. The only thing we can do is try to pick out cases with potential violence … and transfer them to the Royal Courts of Justice."
Judges said county courts often do not have a courtroom and a retiring room for district judges. This forces them to hear cases in their chambers, with those involved often sitting uncomfortably close, while the lack of a retiring room means judges have nowhere to go to go if it became necessary to escape an aggressive parent.
"If anything happens, the only place to run is through an adjoining door between my court and that of the other district judge," said a family judge at a court in outer London.
"People blow up in court, of course they do, we're taking their children away. We do have security in my court but they consist of very elderly men and a couple of young girls. The fact that it has not happened so far doesn't mean that it won't."
Another said: "No judge should ever have to sit without a clerk or usher in the courtroom but that is happening all over. It is very bad at the PRFD at the moment."
District judge Nicholas Crichton, founder of the family drug and alcohol court at Wells Street family proceedings court in central London, who was given a CBE in this year's Queen's birthday honours list, said it was a "recipe for flashpoint" to compel judges to walk through public areas and share corridors. Crichton said it was unfair to put anxious parents under the added stress of close proximity with the judge ruling on their case. "Emotions run high. These parents are coming to court feeling criticised about how they treat their children and terrified they're going to have their children removed. That's a pretty toxic mix, but they're not criminals. Everything they have read in the paper and on TV leads them to be frightened of coming to court."
Crichton created an informal regime in Wells Street to reduce the risk of violence. "I'm not going to tell you that we've never had violent incidents here," he said. "We have, but they're few and far between because we have designed a system where parents feel respected from the moment they enter the building."
There are no publicly available statistics for the number of attacks on judges, but a spokesman for the judicial office at the Royal Courts of Justice said: "While we have noticed no recent increase in the level of significant incidents, security continues to be treated as a serious issue. The judiciary monitors security regularly, with input from a broad range of judges in different locations and courts."
A spokesperson from her majesty's courts and tribunals service said: "HMCTS takes the issue of security within courts extremely seriously. Our security system is continually monitored to ensure that it is effective and proportionate and mitigates against risks faced."
Source: Guardian (UK)
Go to Jail
June 3, 2015 permalink
For a year and a half Curtis Kingston was one of Ontario's most effective opponents of children's aid. Then he stopped. Not for lack of will, but because of criminal charges. Now Curtis has confirmed suspicions that the charges were motivated not by a desire to protect victims, but to shut down his advocacy. Link to an earlier article on his sentencing.
So I know that there have been a lot of questions and rumors going around over the past year and a half regarding myself and I would like to set the record straight the best way I can.
So as most of you are aware, starting in early 2012, due to my own families horrific encounter with our local CA$, I jumped right into many groups to assist children and families and in the course of just over a year and a half had became a well respected advocate and was personally responsible for setting up at least a third of the rallies on this issue in the province. I had also assisted a number of families on a personal level to have them reunited with their loving children. Then in the middle of September 2013, I was arrested and charged for a Facebook post and was later released on bail on September 17th, 2013. Due to the publication ban on my case, I cannot say much about it other than to say that I was railroaded by the police, crown attorney and even my own lawyer in the beginning. I was able to obtain legal counsel later that was better but it was far too late. On the day I was released on September 17th, 2013 the court had placed such insane conditions on me that not only was I unable to continue with the advocate work that I loved but it also rendered me incapable to do almost anything. One of my many conditions was that I was not to have any access to Facebook, Twitter or other social media. I truly feel as though most of the conditions that were placed on me and most of my issues since had no other purpose than to stop me in my tracks, put fear into me so that when this is all over, I will simply roll over, shut up and be the good little sheep that they want me to be. WELL rest assured that I am not and will never be one of the sheepie but with that being said, I do have my own family and other things to worry about. So I don't know what extent or how long it will take before I start advocating and helping again but it is one of my true loves in life so I will be back eventually and with any luck I will be stronger than ever.
To all the amazing people that have stuck by me though everything, I wouldn't have made it without you. There are also a select few people and I won't say names but you know who you are, that not only decided to abandon me and turn their backs on me, but then decided to bash me and slander me full well knowing that I couldn't defend myself at the time. To these people..... after all that I did to help you, from getting one of you out of jail to driving 7 hours in an ice storm to help another and much, much more, you should be ashamed of yourselves for being "friends" when I was helping you but ditching me and then having the nerve to try throwing me under the bus as soon as I needed help. Thanks for that as it just assisted me in figuring out just how fate and downright childish you really are. Now back to the people that stuck by me...... I really am forever indebted to the friends and family that have always been there and supported me through everything, people like Attila Vinczer who was the one that originally helped my family to get my siblings home back in 2012 and inspired me to get into advocating and then just a few weeks ago drove 4 hours to Belleville to support me at my sentencing. Or the individuals who don't wish to be named but took me into their homes for over a year and a half while I was fighting in court. Or my amazing family who has stuck by me through thick and thin. To my parents, Jacquelyn Marie Curtis- Kingston and Jeffrey Kingston, my little brother Dylan Kingston, my grandmother Bonnie Curtis- Sutherland, my uncles Gary Walker and Stevie Thayer and last but not least the woman that I truly hope to marry someday Marika Silver-Khloe Kane. I Love You All more than you can even imagine and with all my heart.
That is it for now but over the next few months things will be difficult for me still on Facebook so please be patient. If anyone has any questions, please ask away via private message and it will be responded to as soon as possible. Thanks Everyone and keep up the good fight.
Source: Facebook, Curtis Kingston
Batshaw: Pay for Our Misconduct
June 1, 2015 permalink
Dean Harper lost custody of his daughter Athena Glusing to her mother. Heartbreaking, but nothing unusual in Canada. The daughter soon fell into foster care under Batshaw Youth and Family Centres in Montreal. Batshaw made no effort to place the girl with her father or even notify him, though they knew where he was. Harper had to conduct his own search, a search that found her when she was eighteen. Now Batshaw is dunning Harper for a payment of $7,800. If Canada had real family justice, Batshaw would be paying damages to Harper for concealing his daughter.
Father gets $7,800 bill after reuniting with long-lost daughter
CTV Montreal: Man handed bill after reunion
A Montreal father was surprised to learn he owed thousands of dollars in retroactive parental fees after he reunited with his long-lost daughter, now 18 years old.
Dean Harper tracked down his daughter, Athena Glusing, after more than a decade apart, only to find out she'd spent her high school years living in a foster home. Harper says administrators at Batshaw Youth and Family Centres never reached out to him as her biological father, despite having all of his contact information on file. Then, when he found her himself, the foster home sent him a "parental contributions" bill for $7,800.
"I don't understand how they could have my daughter, know who I am, not look for me, then send me a bill once I find her," Harper told CTV Montreal.
Glusing has since moved in with her father and the two are catching up on lost time, but they still want to know why Batshaw didn't reunite them sooner.
"I was very upset because they had my name on file. They knew who I was," Harper said. Batshaw told Harper they didn't contact him because they didn't have his birthday on file, he said.
Father and daughter were originally separated 16 years ago, when Glusing's mother took her away.
"She moved and I couldn't find her anymore," Harper said. "I just didn't know where she was, and I searched for 16 years."
Harper found his daughter through some Internet sleuthing on Facebook and Google. He spotted her in a video on Facebook, then used Google Street View to determine the location where the video was shot.
After three years of poring over the video clues, he figured out where Glusing worked and paid her a visit.
"My heart was pounding like you wouldn't believe. I thought for sure Athena could hear my heart pounding," he said. "And I said, 'My name is Dean Harper… I'm your father.'"
Glusing says everything "clicked" at that moment. "Every piece of the puzzle just went together," she said.
Glusing is now living with her father and getting to know her two half-brothers. She says she is "super thankful" for everything Batshaw did to take care of her, but she doesn't like that the foster home sent her father a bill.
Batshaw refused an interview with CTV Montreal, but issued a statement in response.
"In all situations, social workers make regular attempts to locate parents, in the province of Quebec, across Canada, and any other countries, even in prisons," spokesperson Claire Roy said. "These efforts are always based on children's needs."
Harper says he plans to fight the fees and is considering legal action against Batshaw Social Services for not contacting him about his daughter.
Fear of Cars
May 31, 2015 permalink
Not mentioned in the video, the danger of heat death is minimal in Canada's climate. Our list of deaths in foster care shows eighteen children baked to death in a vehicle, none of them in Canada. But even where the climate is warmer, children do not die from being left in a car while mom runs into a store. Tragedies occur when a parent on autopilot drives a baby to work, then forgets him in the car all day.
Four Children in Parked Van
May 31, 2015 permalink
An Innisfil woman left four children in her parked van while attending an appointment in Barrie. She has been charged with abandonment, and children's aid has been alerted. The reporter's wording suggests she was not the mother of the childrn. Maybe she was a foster parent.
Innisfil woman faces charges after kids allegedly left in minivan
A 40-year-old Innisfil woman will face child abandonment charges in July after she allegedly left four children in a minivan while she went to an appointment in downtown Barrie.
Barrie police say a city bylaw officer was checking vehicles for parking infractions Thursday morning when he noticed a minivan with four young children left unattended inside.
The officer could not locate an adult near the minivan, but police say a movie was playing inside for the children to watch and the doors were left unlocked with the keys in the ignition.
Police say the children in the van were an 11-month-old boy, along with girls aged 2, 3, and 9, all from Innisfil.
Investigators say the adult caregiver was located nearby about an hour later and allegedly explained that the nine-year-old girl was looking after the other children while she went to a nearby appointment.
Police contacted all of the children's parents and the Children's Aid Society of Simcoe County. The woman will face five charges of child abandonment.
Foster Second Chance
May 31, 2015 permalink
Last year Maria Burgos gave birth to baby that died 31 days later. Now Manitoba CFS has seized her second baby, Samuel Burgos, for his safety. Sounds reasonable until you find that the first baby, Matias De Antonio, died in a CFS foster home. Those foster parents deserve a second chance.
Family fears for 2nd seized newborn after 1st one died in CFS care
Family services minister won't comment, citing confidentiality, but family wants public to know
A Colombian family whose infant son died in the care of Manitoba's Child and Family Services says it's reliving the nightmare all over again, with a second child.
Matias De Antonio was seized by CFS workers in Winnipeg just two days after he was born on Feb. 24, 2014.
The family knows only that Matias died from lack of oxygen to the brain a month later.
The family told CBC News last year that the boy was put in a car seat, covered in a blanket and then driven for 38 minutes to his foster home by a CFS worker. The family was told when the driver got out to get Matias, he was blue.
The mother, Maria Burgos, now lives in Brandon, Man.
On Sunday, Burgos gave birth to a baby boy, Samuel. Again, three days later, CFS workers removed the infant from the family's home.
The family, which includes Maria Burgos's two brothers who live in Winnipeg, says the agency has denied the mother any further access to the baby.
'They destroy our life' says child's uncle
Carlos said there was no reason for CFS to apprehend Samuel.
"Everything was going [fine]. My sister was at the hospital. She had a C-section. She was recovering well. She was breastfeeding the baby," he said. "Why is this happening again? Is it going end up the same way it ended up last time, with my nephew dead again?"
He said even the way authorities apprehended the baby was wrong.
"Two police officers, with two social workers, they showed up at my sister's house and they said they had an important message to tell her and ... Samuel was apprehended," he said.
"There was no explanation why. They didn't say, 'The baby's apprehended because there's concerns,' nothing. This is Canada...they cannot just go wherever they want and take whatever kid they want. So we need an answer right now, what's going on."
Another brother, Jo Burgos, was distraught.
"This is just too much for us. First it was my first nephew Matias. They destroy our life and they are doing it again. They are doing this again. My sister is very sad. Everybody."
The family is to meet with CFS officials in Brandon Friday.
'Family kept in dark,' says Tory critic
"Frankly we're appalled this would happen again," Progressive Conservative critic Ian Wishart told CBC News. "It's heartbreaking for the family."
Wishart says in both cases, the family was never given an explanation by CFS as to why the children were removed or why the mother was deemed 'unfit' to care for her child.
He says they were also never provided with information about what led to baby Matias's death in CFS care.
"The [chief medical examiner's] report left more questions than answers. ... There was no inquest.... The family is being kept in the dark," he said. "Here we are again, moving to apprehend the child, with no proper explanation to the family.
The family's very concerned. They had little or no explanation with the last situation and I think have every reason to be concerned that something untoward may happen again."
Taking of 2nd baby raised in legislature
Wishart brought up the issue with Family Services Minister Kerri Irvin-Ross in question period Thursday.
"We're hoping the minister will do whatever is necessary to reunite mother and child.," he said.
But Irvin-Ross declined to comment in the legislature, citing confidentiality.
Wishart said that's not acceptable. "Confidentiality does not include withholding information from the family," he said.
Maria Burgos's brothers, Carlos and Jo, accompanied Wishart to the legislature.
May 13, 2015 permalink
Kirsten Pemberton of Napanee Ontario has been charged with a crime for giving birth without assistance. Her baby died.
Police charge Napanee woman in newborn's death
A Napanee woman was arrested Monday in Banff, Alta., and charged with the criminal code offence of neglect to obtain assistance in child birth.
Officers of the Napanee OPP detachment responded to a call at a residence on Palace Road on Saturday.
Neighbours said police were guarding the home and had a police cruiser parked outside from about 11:30 a.m. Saturday until Monday evening.
Throughout the weekend, detectives attended the home, which was marked off with yellow police tape along with search dogs.
Following the investigation, the Napanee OPP crime unit charged Kirsten Pemberton, 23, with the offence.
The infant involved was found dead, Kristine Rae of the OPP said.
Pemberton was arrested with the assistance of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police serious crimes branch in Banff and is being returned to Napanee to appear in Napanee court.
Acting Det. Insp. Peter Donnelly of the criminal investigation branch is continuing the investigation.
Source: Kingston Whig-Standard
May 8, 2015 permalink
British MP John Hemming (Liberal Democrat) was defeated in yesterday's election by Labour candidate Jess Phillips. Mr Hemming has been a critic of his country's child protection system, appearing in these columns dozens of times over the past seven years.
A Kidnap a Day
Keeps the Ancestor Away
May 7, 2015 permalink
Manitoba is seizing babies from the delivery room at the rate of one a day. The Manitoba Liberal Party found the facts through freedom of information. Two percent of Manitoba babies are grabbed at birth.
Newborn baby taken into CFS care every day: FIPPA
On average, at least one of Manitoba’s youngest babies is taken away from its parents and placed in Child and Family Services’ care each day.
And that rate has been relatively steady in each of the last nine fiscal years.
The province is on track to see 358 newborns less than one month old taken during the 2014/15 fiscal year, based on the first 11 months of that period, according to the results of a Manitoba Liberal Party freedom of information request.
A total of 388 of these newborns were seized from their families in 2013/14.
“That’s (around) 2% of all infants in the province being torn from their mother before they have a chance to bond,” River Heights MLA Jon Gerrard said Tuesday.
Gerrard pressed the province to invest more in prental and postnatal programs to prevent young infants from being apprehended.
“Attachment is really improtant, breastfeeding is really important, not just short-term, but for long-term health,” said Gerrard. “If we want to essentially break the cycle of kids in care having their kids in turn taken away, we need to be supporting families, women who are at risk, intensively.”
The former Liberal leader said success has already occurred in intensive intervention programs at Mount Carmel Clinic in Winnipeg, where half the high-risk moms assisted were able to keep their babies. Gerrard called on the province to take such initiatives province-wide.
Child and Family Services Minister Kerri Irvin-Ross said the province is interested in expanding its successes, since such programs are believed to have kept many kids out of provincial care.
“We are constantly looking for innovation to support those families,” said Irvin-Ross. “We truly are interested in finding that balance of protecting children and also keeping them home in their families and communities.”
The minister noted a Family First program currently identifies vulnerable families at the birth of a child, pairing them with support visitors who return until the child reaches kindergarten age.
She stressed young babies are taken into foster care for their own protection, which unfortunately may occur often.
“These numbers cause us to stop and reflect ... We want to continue to reunify the baby with the family, if that’s possible,” said Irvin-Ross.
But Gerrard said these efforts aren’t chipping away at the problem fast enough, since the number of apprehensions remains relatively stable over most of the past decade.
“If all the programs mentioned were effective, then we would have seen a reduction,” he said.
Babies taken from parents by child and family services at less than one month of age:
2014-15: 358 *prorated based on 11 months of data
Source: Winnipeg Sun
Social Worker's Carnal Love
May 6, 2015 permalink
Dexter Carl Pleasure, a long-time California social worker, engaged in oral copulation with his wards.
RANCHO CUCAMONGA: Molestation suspect is social worker, church worship leader
A social worker who also works at an unidentified San Bernardino church was arrested on suspicion of molesting a child over a period of several years, sheriff's officials said.
Dexter Carl Pleasure, 51, was arrested at 1:15 a.m. Tuesday, April 28, at his home in the 10700 block of Church Street in Rancho Cucamonga, San Bernardino County sheriff's officials said in a news release.
"Detectives are concerned there may be additional victims due to Pleasure’s access to young children over the past twenty years," the release said.
A "mandated reporter" -- somebody required by law to report signs of abuse -- called authorities on Monday to report a possible case of sexual abuse against a child younger than 10, San Bernardino County sheriff's officials wrote in a news release.
An investigation led to Pleasure, who has worked as a social worker at private foster care agencies for 20 years and told deputies he is a church worship leader, officials said.
"Pleasure had access and control over numerous children throughout his career taking them to doctor’s appointments and visitations," officials wrote in the release.
He did not tell them which church he worked for, San Bernardino County sheriff's spokeswoman Teresa McMahon said. Other attempts to identify the church were unsuccessful.
According to Pleasure's Linkedin profile, his last job was at the Avant-Garde Foster Family Agency. CEO Gregory Estravit said Pleasure stopped working at the agency three months ago.
Pleasure worked as an administrator there, Estravit said, and had no opportunity to be alone with children. Estravit said the entire Avant-Garde staff is "shocked" at the allegations against Pleasure.
Following Pleasure's arrest, he was booked into the West Valley Detention Center on suspicion of committing lewd and lascivious acts with a child under 14 and continued abuse of a child under 14, jail logs show. His bail was set at $350,000.
Anybody with information was asked to call Detective Ryan Ford at 909-477-2800. Anonymous tips are accepted at 800-782-4763 or online at www.wetip.com.
Alberta Elects NDP
May 6, 2015 permalink
Yesterday Alberta elected a new provincial government. The NDP got a majority of seats and their leader, Rachel Notley, will become the new premier. In opposition Notley was a critic of Alberta's child protection system. It remains to be seen whether any of her criticisms will be translated into policy in her new government.
May 5, 2015 permalink
Police in Kitchener are looking for Kimberly Bowen. She is a teenaged runaway from a local group home. Police say they "want to check on her wellbeing".
This is the girl that's missing from group home in Waterloo. She's from Blenheim. It's the second story on the page, not the stun gun one.
Source: Facebook, Lee Bolton
Police looking for missing teen
Police are asking for the public's help in locating a missing Kitchener teen. Kimberly Bowen, 15, was last seen on April 30. Bowen is five feet, one inch tall, approximately 100 pounds, with short brown hair in a buzz-cut style, brown eyes and a lip piercing. Police want to check on her wellbeing. Anyone with information is asked to call police at 519-653-7700 ext 4499.
Source: The Record (Kitchener/Waterloo)
Police Ask For Public Assistance To Locate Missing Kitchener Girl
Are You Able To Help Find Her?
Have You Seen Kimberly Bowen?
Regional Police are searching for missing Kitchener girl and are asking for the public’s help in locating her.
15-year-old Kimberly Bowen was last seen on April 30th. She is white, 5’1 and around 100 lbs with short brown hair and a lip piercing.
Anyone with information on her whereabouts is asked to contact the Waterloo Regional Police Service at 519-653-7700 ext 4499.
Source: KW Now
Save White Men
May 5, 2015 permalink
Alberta has a use for children who die in foster care — harvesting their organs. A press release from the Treaty 8 First Nations of Alberta draws attention to the problem, along with a correction three days later. Fixcas made local copies  . Even in the milder corrected version, organs can be harvested without the knowledge of the real family.
Chatham-Kent CAS Sued
May 4, 2015 permalink
The Kivell family in suing Chatham-Kent CAS for $4.1 million.
Family launches $4.1M lawsuit against police and children’s services in Chatham-Kent
A Chatham family has launched a $4.1-million lawsuit against Chatham-Kent Children's Services and Chatham-Kent Police Services.
Brian and Betty-Jo Kivell, their six children and Brian’s parents, Gary and Sherrill Kivell, are seeking compensatory, aggravated and punitive damages arising from an investigation by police and CKCS.
Brian Kivell was arrested on Nov. 26, 2013 and charged with sexual assault. In late Feb 2014, the claimant made similar allegations against Brian’s father, Gary Kivell, but no charges were laid.
The claims were made by a girl, who Brian and Betty-Jo adopted and brought back to Canada after working as missionaries in the Ukraine for four years. The allegations were made more than seven years after the Kivell family had terminated the adoption.
All charges against Brian Kivell were withdrawn on April 10, 2014.
The lawsuit claims that the Kivell family has suffered irreparable damage from the alleged negligent, irresponsible and highhanded actions of the CKCS, its employees and agents, and the Chatham Kent Police.
“Watching my husband and children suffer that way has been the greatest pain I have ever experienced,” said Betty-Jo Kivell in a news release. “The agencies that are in place to protect children and families completely failed mine. We are seeking accountability."
The allegations have not been proven in court.
“The matter is before the courts and because there is civil litigation underway we can make no further comment," Chatham-Kent police Insp. Ed Reed told CTV News. "The matter is in the hands of legal counsel.”
High-Speed Child Protection
May 3, 2015 permalink
A New Mexico social worker was in such a hurry to rescue two children that she had no time to fasten their seatbelts. Where the speed limit was 70 mph, a driver running at 95 mph himself made a cell-phone video of the worker passing him. She did not get a speeding ticket because a sheriff's truck was escorting her. The car went directly to the CYFD office in Carlsbad.
CYFD worker caught going 95 mph with kids in car
Witness says at least one kid wasn't wearing a seat belt
ARTESIA, N.M, (KRQE) – A Children, Youth and Families Department worker is under investigation after she was caught on camera speeding down a highway in a state car with two young kids in the backseat.
It happened on U.S. 285 south of Artesia on Tuesday afternoon. Dustin Savoie says he was speeding down an open stretch of the highway on his way to work.
“The speed limit’s 70 [mph] on this highway,” Savoie said. “I was already doing 90 and they were coming up on me pretty fast.”
Savoie spotted a truck and a white CYFD sedan come speeding past him. He pulled out his cell phone while behind the wheel, something News 13 does not endorse, and started recording.
While catching up with the CYFD car, Savoie points his camera at the speedometer, which showed a speed of around 95 mph.
Then Savoie noticed something else, two young children in the backseat of the car. He says at least one wasn’t wearing a seat belt. Savoie’s video shows the child flashing him a peace sign at one point.
“They’re supposed to be in charge of protecting kids so it kind of — I don’t know — kind of rubbed me the wrong way,” Savoie said. “I was waiting for a cop to pull out to pull somebody over and it never happened.”
That may be because of the other truck Savoie filmed. KRQE News 13 has learned the truck in the video was an unmarked Eddy County Sheriff’s vehicle escorting the CYFD driver and the children in her custody.
Savoie continued following the car to Carlsbad. Its final destination wasn’t a hospital, but the CYFD office in Carlsbad.
KRQE News 13 brought the video to CYFD to try and get some answers.
“It’s our understanding that this was not an emergency situation where this would’ve been necessary for the safety of the child,” said Monique Jacobson, cabinet secretary for CYFD. “It’s unacceptable. We can’t have a situation where we are putting these children into an unsafe situation.”
The worker behind the wheel has been put on “no client contact work”, also known as desk duty, while a full investigation is conducted.
Sgt. Matt Hutchinson with the Eddy County Sheriff’s Department says the department’s opened an investigation of its own into what’s shown on the video.
“We do not condone such actions,” Hutchinson wrote in a statement. “The matter is currently under investigation by our agency.”
Jacobson says while CYFD hasn’t been able to determine whether the children were wearing seat belts or not, the speeding alone is in violation of state policy.
Source: KRQE News 13
Less Funding For Foster Death Investigations
May 2, 2015 permalink
The Alberta government has found the perfect way to cut its expenses: stop investigating deaths in foster care. Jamie Sullivan, and dozens of other parents, are less likely to find out how their children died.
PC Alberta slashes budget for office probing foster-care deaths
Delonna Sullivan was four months and 13 days old when she was taken by Alberta child-welfare services on the morning of Tuesday, April 5, 2011. Her mother, Jamie Sullivan, said workers had papers to take children belonging to her roommate, but a mix-up led her baby into the foster-care system.
Six days later, Delonna was dead – one of 13 children to die in the foster-care system in 2011.
Since then, the number has grown. In the 2014-2015 fiscal year, a record 33 children and teenagers died while receiving child-intervention services.
But when Progressive Conservative Premier Jim Prentice’s government began trimming budgets in the wake of a collapse in oil prices, the axe fell first on the agency that investigates the deaths of children in care.
Delonna’s identity and those of more than 750 children who died since 1999 while receiving child services would not be known today if it weren’t for a four-year investigation by the Edmonton Journal and Calgary Herald.
That award-winning Fatal Care series, published in November, 2013, revealed the full scope of the deaths and the Alberta government’s failures to improve the system.
Following the investigation, the government lifted a blanket ban on identifying children who died in care. The responsibilities of the Office of the Youth and Child Advocate were also expanded, and it was given a wider mandate to investigate deaths. Five new staff members were hired, including three investigators.
Then the price of oil crashed. In February, a legislative committee dominated by the Tories voted to cut $275,000 from the advocate’s office. The funds had been requested to retain the five employees hired after the public outcry from the Fatal Care series. Child and Youth Advocate Del Graff has warned that the cuts will hurt vulnerable children and that his office’s recommendations would be delayed.
When MLA Genia Leskiw was asked why she moved to cut Mr. Graff’s budget, her answer was curt: “I really don’t believe they’ve sharpened their pencils.” During a committee meeting, she asked if his staff would take a 5-per-cent pay cut.
Cases like Delonna Sullivan’s highlight the need for a robust investigative process. Her mother, Delonna, was granted a single visit with her daughter on the Friday after she was taken. The child’s grandmother, Marilyn Koren, was also there. She remembers the four-month-old was lethargic and sickly, with dark red streaks on her small head.
Ms. Sullivan asked the foster mother to bring her daughter to a doctor. She never did. According to medical records, Delonna was given cough syrup and acetaminophen the following Monday morning and put into a car seat for a nap. The foster mother didn’t check on Delonna for five hours, according to the medical examiner; when she did, the baby was cold. Delonna was pronounced dead less than an hour later.
“At her four-month checkup, about two weeks prior, the doctor wrote: ‘Happy, healthy baby,’” Ms. Koren said about her granddaughter from her home in Warburg, Alta. “When you have nearly one child dying weekly in care in the province of Alberta, obviously there are flaws in the system.”
Responding to criticism over the funding cut, Finance Minister Robin Campbell blamed oil prices. “We cannot control the price of oil, but we can keep our spending in check. Difficult choices are being made across Government, and the Office of the Child and Youth Advocate must similarly work to prioritize front line services while minimizing administrative costs,” he wrote in a letter.
Mr. Graff refused multiple requests for an interview. His office did confirm that the five additional employees have not been fired. The investigative office, though, has cancelled most travel and professional development, while abandoning plans to hire two new researchers.
In the budget tabled in late March, the Tory government chopped a further $48.9-million from child intervention programs, including cuts to family safety programs, early intervention and other outreach support.
“Of those 33 deaths, many of them were medically fragile, some were in care,” Human Services Minister Heather Klimchuk told The Globe and Mail. She said the planned cuts will be made through efficiencies and will not impact front-line staff, despite Mr. Graff’s warning of delayed investigations. “There are many entities that look into how children pass away. We have a number of bodies that look very closely with the ministry and justice portfolio,” she added.
NDP Leader Rachel Notley, running in the May 5 election, has pledged to reverse the cuts to child intervention; she also says Mr. Graff’s office should investigate all deaths in the foster-care system – the advocate’s office currently only looks into a fraction of deaths.
“The PCs have been shortchanging the children’s advocate for some time,” Ms. Notley said. “Every incident should be fully investigated so that we can have a full picture of what’s going on. We don’t have that and Mr. Graff is forced to pick and choose.” The Wildrose party has also pledged to reverse the cuts.
Ms. Sullivan and her mother, meanwhile, are suing the Alberta government. After four years, Ms. Koren is still angry about what happened to her granddaughter. “We want to see the people responsible for her death behind bars,” she said.
Source: Globe and Mail
Police Menace Naked Tot
May 2, 2015 permalink
On a hot day Ian McIlwaine let his four-year-old son Tyler play naked in the front yard. A few days later police interrogated the family. In news after the enclosed article the Squamish (British Columbia) RCMP apologized to the McIlwaines.
Police visit after naked four-year-old plays in yard
Brackendale family overwhelmed by public support since story went viral
Ian McIlwaine feels scared and bullied and has had tears in his eyes since April 22, he says.
That Wednesday, according to McIlwaine, the Squamish RCMP paid his home a visit and had a chat with his wife over how the couple is raising their two sons, Connor, 6, and Tyler, 4.
The visit stemmed from an incident McIlwaine thought of as completely innocent that occurred on April 19.
McIlwaine had been waxing his car in the front yard that warm, sunny Sunday while his boys played beside him. Little Tyler decided to strip out of his wet clothes.
“He hates being wet,” McIlwaine said. “He had been fighting a cold so was wearing thicker pants and a longer shirt.”
The boys continued to play, Tyler in the nude. McIlwaine stopped Tyler to ask him if the boy wanted to get dressed, he said, but the child said no.
“He is four years old. He’s just pure right now, he doesn’t know prejudice,” said the father. “I like knowing he is my innocent little four-year-old still.”
The day ended and McIlwaine flew out of town on a business trip the next morning.
Two days later he got a call from his distraught wife, Margita, who is originally from Slovenia.“They are a fighting country… she’s a tough girl. The only time I ever really saw her cry was when we had the kids, tears of joy kind of thing,” he said.
Over a couple of calls to her, McIlwaine said he discovered that according to Margita, the Squamish RCMP spent over half an hour at the house asking about the incident and advising her to keep both boys in the backyard if they are naked.
McIlwaine said his backyard has a creek and is not safe for children to run around.
Apparently the RCMP had received a complaint from a neighbour about the Sunday incident. McIlwaine said he gets along well with his immediate neighbours and isn’t sure who called the police.
McIlwaine cut short his business trip and flew home. He went to the RCMP detachment that Thursday. He said he was told that no law had been broken by having his son naked in the yard.
The incident has made both parents feel defensive about their parenting, said McIlwaine, his voice cracking.
“Everybody compliments me on how well behaved and well mannered and they are very polite and they are fun. You know, everything I do is try to give those kids a good start, they need the first six years to mean something,” he said.
The worst thing, McIlwaine said, is that not only are he and his wife distraught over the situation, their son Connor is frightened of being removed from the home by authorities.
“He was crying because he is concerned now that the police are going to take him and Tyler away because they got naked, and it wasn’t even him, it was just my youngest son,” said McIlwaine, “but God bless him, he stands up for his brother no matter what.”
McIlwaine and his wife want an apology from the RCMP.
McIlwaine’s story has gone viral since it was posted on social media. The support from the community has been amazing, McIlwaine said.
“That in itself makes me happy,” he said.
Squamish RCMP Staff Sgt. Brian Cumming issued a statement to The Squamish Chief in response to the story.
“I have spoken to Mrs. and Mr. McIlwaine, explained that we responded to a complaint from another citizen about their son being out on the street with no clothes on a few days earlier. They did not feel this was handled well by the officers responding despite my explanations, and I offered an apology that they were not happy and felt their son was now afraid of the police,” said Cumming.
“Mr. McIlwaine suggested that his son would respond well if given the opportunity to visit the police station and meet the police in more favourable circumstances, and we have agreed to arrange for this to happen in the near future.”
Source: Squamish Chief
Boy Detained by Lego Store
May 1, 2015 permalink
A father wrote to Lenore Skenazy to tell of the detention of his son. The boy earned his own money and went to the Lego store in Calgary to make a puchase. The store detained him because he was eleven years old.
Lego Store Detains Boy, 11, for Being Too Young To Shop Alone
Today, our son went to the Lego store in Chinook Mall, Calgary, Alberta. He had over $200 and was intending to purchase some Lego with it. He is a frequent customer and a skilled Lego builder. He uses his own money he has earned from such things as babysitting and shoveling walks.
Imagine my surprise when I entered the store and found that the manager had called a security guard to detain my son. He then tried to coerce me into staying with my son while he was in the Lego store. It is important to note that my son has been to the Lego store on his own several dozen times and has made thousands of dollars’ worth of purchases. No Lego store employee has ever questioned his behavior. He does not disrupt business and he is a paying customer.
I spoke to the security guard who told me that the Lego store required a parent to be with any child 12 or under. He stated that it was Lego store policy and that he was just enforcing it. I then followed the guard to the manager, and asked him why he would call security on my son. He stated that for safety reasons, no child under 12 could be left unattended in the store. I explained that I had not left him unattended — he had arrived at the store on his own, as a customer. I happened to be meeting him there afterward, but only because we wanted to meet for lunch. I asked what scenario made the Lego store so unsafe that an 11.5 year old needed a chaperon? He replied, “If I have to explain THAT to you, then you shouldn’t be a parent.” The security guard then piped in and started making a claim that child abductions from the mall were a frequent event — which is a lie. I cut him off and asked, “How many child abductions have taken place here in the mall?” I questioned why the age policy was not posted at the front of the store and the manger responded once again with, “It should be obvious to any good parent that children under 12 shouldn’t be in a store unattended. We have the policy for child safety reasons. Your son is welcome in the store, but we ask that you accompany him whenever he is here.”
We left the store and have no plans to return. Later, when we asked our son how they had even found out his age, he replied that he had been discussing Lego with one of the store employees when the employee asked, “Just out of curiosity, how old are you?” Our son naturally assumed that he simply wanted to know his age and told him.
Lego is a big part of our son’s life, and by extension a big part of ours. It would be very sad for us to have to end our customer relationship with Lego on a permanent basis.
Source: Free Range Kids
Mom of the Year
May 1, 2015 permalink
Toya Graham has become a national hero for hitting her sixteen-year-old son Michael when he tried to participate in a riot in Baltimore. Of course, child protective services is alert. They are investigating Graham for child abuse.
Child Protective Services Launch Investigation On Baltimore Mom Who Hit Son
“A woman seen hitting and berating a black-clad teenager, later confirmed to be her son, has been hailed as “mom of the year” after her intervention on the streets of Baltimore was caught on video. As violence flared up across the city on Monday, the woman, who was identified as Toya Graham on Tuesday afternoon, was filmed telling her child to “take that f—— mask off.”
“Graham spoke to CBS News about the video, which initially went viral with little context. In the interview, the single mother of six tells the network that she intervened out of concern for her 16-year-old son’s safety. She said: “That’s my only son, and at the end of the day, I don’t want him to be a Freddie Gray. But to stand up there and vandalize police officers, that’s not justice.”
“By late Monday, videos of the incident were so widespread that Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony Batts brought it up in an overnight news conference. Batts told reporters: “And if you saw in one scene, you had a mother who grabbed their child who had a hood on his head and she started smacking him on the head because she was so embarrassed. I wish I had more parents who took charge of their kids tonight. I think these were youth coming out of the high school and they thought it was cute to throw cinder blocks at the police department and address it that way.”
However, in an unexpected turn of events, Child Protective Services in Baltimore has launched an investigation on Toya Graham shortly after the video which showed her beating her son on the street became viral.
A CPS Baltimore spokesperson told Newslo: “After reviewing the video in question, it has come to our attention that Ms. Graham is a mother of six. Although her actions are somewhat understandable, we cannot allow a young man to suffer such violence and abuse, regardless of the cause. Therefore, CPS investigators will question Ms. Graham and her children, and will also conduct an investigation that will determine if Ms. Graham will be allowed to continue being her children’s legal guardian.”
Ms. Graham did not wish to speak to Newslo or comment on the matter.