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Save Our Children
May 20, 2013 permalink
The Save the Canadian Children conference took place on Friday at the Grand Olympia in Stoney Creek Ontario. About forty people heard presentations by Jim Black, Robert P Lee, Sheila Foster, Jamie Sullivan, Velvet Martin, Charles J Stecker, Raymond Dionne, Kiran Matharu and others.
Source: Facebook, Alfredine Linda Plourde
There will be more posted here as soon as available.
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
May 20, 2013 permalink
In 2008 British Columbia ended a program that let mothers in prison keep their babies while incarcerated. A pending suit contends that the routine separation of mothers and babies in prison constitutes cruel and unusual punishment. Once the courts accept that argument, what will they call the routine separation of children from mothers who have committed no offense?
Top Story: B.C.'s prison moms battle to keep their babies
The baby was a girl.
As her first cries rang through the hospital room, her mother began to cry, too.
Through 14 hours of labour, Patricia Block had refused pain medication so she would remember this moment: her daughter’s cries, her bright eyes and chubby arms, the way it felt to hold her.
She named the baby Amber Joy and prayed time would stand still.
Two days later, a social worker took Amber from Abbotsford Regional Hospital to a foster home.
A correctional officer took Block back to prison.
On May 27, as the B.C. Supreme Court considers a case that deals with the rights of incarcerated mothers and their babies, Block will relive the events that separated her from Amber for three months in 2009.
The claim was filed almost five years ago after the closure of the “mother-baby program” at Alouette Correctional Centre for Women, a provincial prison for women serving sentences of less than two years.
Between 2004 and 2008, 12 mothers took part in the program, which allowed them to keep their babies with them while doing time. Most babies remained with their mothers in prison for six months. The longest stay was 18 months.
In 2008, the program was cancelled.
Since then, 22 mothers have given birth while in a B.C. prison.
Block is one of two plaintiffs claiming the program’s cancellation constitutes cruel and unusual punishment, while infringing on her right to care for her baby and her baby’s right to security.
The second plaintiff, Amanda Inglis, was able to remain with her premature son in hospital until she received parole.
The mothers are asking the B.C. Supreme Court to reinstate ACCW’s mother-baby program.
A statement of defence filed on behalf of B.C.’s attorney general and solicitor general, as well as ACCW’s current warden, claims the program’s cancellation violated no rights and that the program ended over concerns for the babies’ safety.
“I’m getting ready to live it all again [in court],” Block told the Sunday Province in a recent interview. “It’s stirring up a lot of memories.”
Baby Amber was born a few months after the end of the mother-baby program.
Former ACCW warden Brenda Tole, whose time as warden corresponds almost exactly with the duration of the program, cannot recall a single incident of concern among participants.
There was no violence, she says, and no drugs, either. The provincial prison system is often called a “revolving door,” but the recidivism rate for moms was astonishingly low, she says.
“The impacts [of the program] were very, very positive.”
As Tole describes it, the prison was more like the “facilitator” than the initiator of the program, which began when ACCW opened in 2004. The provincial jail was a replacement facility for the Burnaby Correctional Centre for Women, which housed both federal and provincial inmates.
A “mother-child” program has been part of the federal Corrections mandate since 1990 and continues in Fraser Valley Institution, B.C.’s federal women’s prison for inmates serving sentences of two years or more.
Tole says that when ACCW opened, a planning conference on women’s health identified a need for a mother-baby program in the provincial prison.
“We were told the outcomes for the moms and babies were better if they could stay together,” she says. “So we said OK, we’ll try it, but we need to do our due diligence.”
That meant getting the Ministry of Children and Family Development on board, as babies who are born to women in custody fall under the ministry’s protection.
Once the program was up and running, women delivered their babies at the Fir Square unit at B.C. Women’s Hospital. After birth, the moms and babies returned to the prison to a special living unit next to the health care unit.
“It was of the things I was most proud of,” Tole says of the program. “When these moms got out [of prison] they didn’t come back. They made a life for their kids. I don’t think that would have happened otherwise.”
Tole retired in 2007.
ACCW’s new warden, Lisa Anderson, is listed as a defendant in the upcoming court case. According to the statement of claim, she implemented a number of changes to prison programs. In early 2008 the mother-baby program ended.
The defendants maintain the program was cancelled due to “concerns regarding risks to the infants” as the provincial prison holds both remanded and sentenced offenders, as well as immigration detainees.
“The short-term stay of many of these individuals does not afford an opportunity for effective, or any assessment of their suitability to cohabit safely with mothers and infants in custody,” says the statement of defence.
The decision to end the program came under fire immediately.
B.C.’s representative for children and youth, Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, called the mother-baby program “a jewel” in a 2008 Vancouver Sun opinion piece.
“The program was cancelled without any real evaluation,” she wrote. “There were no security concerns, and certainly any institutional issues could be addressed — if the will was there — as they have been addressed for women incarcerated around the world.”
In another article, the executive director of the B.C. Association of Social Workers asked who was being “punished” by the cancellation of the program: “The experts on early childhood development will tell you unequivocally it is the children,” wrote Linda Korbin.
“If you take their children away what do these women have to live for?” president of the B.C. Government and Service Employees Union Darryl Walker said in a recent interview with the Sunday Province.
Patricia Block lived for visiting day.
A few days postpartum, she remembers being shackled and transported to court. She asked the judge for more visiting hours and provisions to send breast milk to her baby.
Back in her cell, she sat on her bed and watched the clock until Amber arrived.
“Newborn babies just sleep, so sometimes the whole two hours [of visiting] would pass and I wouldn’t get to feed her. But I held her,” she says.
At the end of the visit, she’d hand over her daughter and a bag of frozen milk. There was little else she could do for her baby, so she wrote to her.
“I miss you and love you so much.
I’m so sorry we are not together, honey.
I think of you every second of the day.
Wherever you are, I hope you are OK.
Block began the journal before Amber was born. She’d learned she was pregnant in late 2008, around the same time she entered ACCW after being arrested for selling drugs.
“I knew the baby program had ended, and I knew what would happen to my baby,” she says.
At her sentencing hearing, Block asked for a two-year sentence so she could go to FVI, where there is a mother-child program.
But while her request for a longer sentence was granted, it took 60 days to process her transfer to the federal prison, and another 60 days for an intake assessment.
At seven months pregnant, she learned her application to the federal mother-child program was denied because she was not expected to remain at the prison long enough to complete the classes that are part of the program.
Amber was born at 9:24 p.m. on March 17, 2009. St. Patrick’s Day. Two days later, a social worker came into Block’s hospital room with a car seat.
Block insisted on strapping the baby in herself.
“I couldn’t do anything. I cried. I kissed her goodbye.”
The significance of the mother-child bond will play a key role in Block’s upcoming B.C. Supreme Court case.
“We argue that breaking that bond is taking away the right to life, liberty and security of the person, both for the mother and the baby,” explains co-counsel Sarah Rauch.
According to an article in the BC Medical Journal, female prisoners who experience “traumatic separations” from their children are more likely to be re-incarcerated.
“If we are looking for positive outcomes [for female prisoners], we need to pay attention to the role of bonding between mothers and their children,” agrees Dr. Patricia Janssen with the School of Population and Public Health at UBC.
Several years ago, while the ACCW mother-baby program was still running, the professor followed female prisoners to assess their success at achieving health goals upon release.
“A number of women said that watching moms with their babies in the prison motivated them to find and reconnect with their own children,” she says.
Mo Korchinski can attest to that.
The former inmate turned prison researcher was doing time at ACCW in 2004 when a fellow inmate had a baby boy and brought him back to the mom-and-baby unit with her.
After years of addiction and several stints behind bars, Korchinski often told people she had no children.
In fact, she had three.
“Seeing the babies opened up something inside of me,” she says. “I’d blocked out that part of my life.”
Reconnecting with her daughter Cassandra was hard work. The teen had been living with her dad’s family for about a decade.
“It’s impossible to forget everything that happened in the 11 years she was gone,” says Cassandra, who was eight months pregnant herself when she reconnected with her mother.
Today, Korchinski is helping to raise her granddaughter.
“The cycle of dysfunction has to break somewhere,” she says.
Block’s lawyers plan to argue the cancellation of the mother-baby program not only infringes on the rights of mothers, but also on the rights of their babies.
Child development experts agree a strong mother-child bond is the basis for proper child development.
“The baby has to know that the adult taking care of them is absolutely in love with them,” says Dr. Hillel Goelman, an early childhood education professor at UBC. “Children become confident when they’re comfortable and the caregiver’s response to them is positive and predictable.”
Dr. Jennifer Lloyd with UBC’s Human Early Learning Partnership points to breastfeeding as an important way for mothers and babies to bond.
“It’s very difficult to find a replacement for Mom,” she says.
Both experts were unable to comment on the upcoming court case and the impact that living in a prison might have on a baby, but Goelman says a child’s environment should be safe and predictable, as well as stimulating.
“Toys don’t have to be the latest thing from Fisher Price. A drawer of wooden spoons might fit the bill,” he says.
Lloyd says children begin to appreciate social interaction with other children at about age three, but adults remain the key to healthy development.
The mother-baby program has its share of detractors as well.
The union for federal prison guards is not supportive of the federal program.
“A prison is not a place for children,” says Gord Robertson, regional president of the Union of Canadian Correctional Officers. “Staff cannot cover all places at all times, and we believe the risk outweighs the benefits.”
The federal mother-baby program made headlines in 2008 when Lisa Whitford won the right to bring her 11-month-old daughter, Jordyn, into FVI while serving a four-year sentence for manslaughter. The baby girl was born as Whitford awaited trial at ACCW following her 2006 arrest for shooting Jordyn’s father, Anthony Cartledge, at the couple’s Prince George home.
Cartledge’s family did not reply to interview requests for this story, but previously told the Comox Valley Echo they did not feel Whitford was being adequately punished.
“She’s getting her own private, guarded, locked and secure backyard,” said Natasha Cartledge, Anthony Cartledge’s daughter from a previous relationship.
Another family member, Diane Martin, questioned what was best for Jordyn.
“I would think that if I was to have a baby and raise it in total isolation by myself in a house for the first two years of its life, there might be a public outcry when that was discovered,” she said in the article.
Stockwell Day, federal public safety minister at the time, called for a review of the federal program and announced prisoners convicted of violent crimes would no longer be eligible.
Canada’s corrections watchdog Howard Sapers says participation in the federal program has dwindled since eligibility was restricted. There are currently no prisoners taking part in the program in Canada.
“I feel it needs to be structured in a way that allows for participation,” he says. “A program that exists solely on paper is not really a program at all.”
Beyond sparking the controversy that led to the eligibility restrictions, it’s unclear what impact the mother-child program had on Whitford’s life — and what has happened to Jordyn.
In 2011, Whitford was the subject of a Canada-wide arrest warrant after leaving a New Westminster halfway house.
Court records from Fernie, B.C. show that in January she was convicted of assault with a weapon. She received a 60-day jail sentence.
For more than 70 years, the Elizabeth Fry Society of Greater Vancouver has advocated for the rights of women in trouble with the law.
So one might assume the non-profit organization would support the mother-baby program.
But executive director Shawn Bayes says she can’t “in good conscience” do that. Since the cancellation of the ACCW program, E Fry has been working with B.C. Corrections to develop sentencing alternatives that keep new mothers in the community — and out of prison.
B.C. Corrections says 22 inmates have given birth since the program’s cancellation.
“I think this is where the rubber hits the road,” says Bayes. “Pre-sentencing reports should present the judge with options for dealing with [expectant] mothers ... Mothers and babies should not be in prison to begin with.”
E Fry estimates more than two-thirds of female prisoners are mothers and the sole caregivers of their children. While most children of male prisoners live with their mothers, children of female prisoners live with extended family or are placed in foster care.
About 75 per cent of female prisoners in B.C. Corrections serve less than three months in jail.
Three months is the amount of time Block was separated from Amber.
“I can’t ever get that time back,” she says.
After her release from prison, Block attended culinary school in Vancouver. She now lives in the Okanagan.
Amber is four. She’s funny and silly and bursting with life. She likes preschool. She just finished swimming lessons. She’s a picky eater.
“I think someday I’ll tell her the story of her birth,” says Block. “When she’s an adult. When she can understand.”
Right now, Block’s focus is on saving other women from the nightmare she endured after Amber’s birth.
“Women are still suffering. I’m fighting for them now. I want to give them hope.”
Source: The Province (BC)
Magic from Taxpayers
May 19, 2013 permalink
A fairy godmother (Ontario taxpayers) has rescued the children's aid society of Simcoe, paying their $1.5 million debt incurred through overspending their budget.
Province clears Children’s Aid Society’s $1.5-million debt
SIMCOE COUNTY – With the wave of an invisible wand by the province, the $1.5-million debt held by the Simcoe County Children’s Aid Society (CAS) has been forgiven.
“In April, a new funding model came to all children’s aid societies,” said Susan Carmichael, executive director of the CAS. “What the ministry did is forgive everyone’s debt. Out of the 47 of us, 30 were carrying historical debt. All of us are starting with a clean slate.”
The new funding formula gives a payout based on a three-year average, and also takes into account factors like percentage of children living rurally, or aboriginal families in the area.
“The government recognized we were under-funded,” said Carmichael. “We are actually getting a two per cent increase every year for the next three years.”
According to Carmichael, the local CAS was “penalized” in the past because funding was based on the number of children physically in their care.
“Ninety per cent of our children are still with the families, and you were penalized for things like that (when we felt) we were doing good work,” she said. “We were relying on lines of credit. Nobody wants to run on a line of credit.”
Any annual deficits reported over the last five years have been forgiven, said Carmichael.
Going forward, she’s had to sign an accountability agreement, which means the local CAS won’t run a deficit.
“I welcome the accountability agreement,” said Carmichael. “Taxpayers should know how we’re spending the money, and performance indicators will demonstrate the good work we’re doing.”
The agreement already comes with tough decisions, as Carmichael anticipates being $800,000 over budget if spending continues as is. Unionized salary increases and cost-of-living expenses are a portion of that figure, she said.
“We’re looking at all of our services, and everything we’re doing, to find a cost-benefit analysis,” she said. “It’s a $40-million budget, so we can find the savings.”
It might mean taking children out of “more expensive resources into kinship or family-based care,” she said.
However, children’s safety is always a priority, regardless of the cost.
“Children’s safety, well-being and permanence is No. 1, and we will never compromise that just to balance a budget,” said Carmichael.
In 2012-13, the local CAS served 4,500 families, with 11,000 children.
Source: Midland Mirror
May 18, 2013 permalink
Belleville rally was a success got a couple hundred signatures on the petition and we certainly had much support from the public. I will be posting the video in the next few days and we will be in Napanee in two weeks. Thanks to everyone that attended :)
Source: Facebook, Curtis Kingston
Source: Facebook, Terri-Anne Bucholtz
May 18, 2013 permalink
What do you do to a seven-year-old boy who scuffs his shoes? Answer: Whip him with a belt. That's what Indiana foster parents Lorna and Timothy Bankston did.
Foster parents charged for whipping boy for scuffed shoes
The foster parents of a 7-year-old boy have been charged in Lake Superior Court with battery resulting in bodily injury for allegedly whipping him with a belt for scuffing his shoes.
Lorna C. Bankston, and Timothy K. Bankston, both 47, of 2774 W. 47th Ave. in Calumet Township were charged after the boy complained of pain to his arm to a school nurse at Hosford Park Elementary School on Jan. 29.
Authorities saw fresh “whip marks” on the boy’s arms and back.
Two other children were removed from the home.
The charge is punishable by a maximum three-year sentence.
Source: Chicago Post-Tribune
May 18, 2013 permalink
This British story appears here as an example of a form of suppression that does not yet have a name. We have dubbed it inverse coercion. To suppress stories of victims of oppression, the authorities harm not the reporter, who may claim protections such as free speech or freedom of the press, but the victims in the story. An example was the regime of Saddam Hussein in Iraq, as reported by Eason Jordan. Any time the foreign press exposed an abuse in Iraq, the police tortured or killed the family that was the victim. Decent members of the press ceased reporting to avoid contributing to the mayhem. A decade ago the same technique was used by Dufferin CAS when crown-wardship was imposed on families that told their stories to VOCA.
Last week the British press reported on a family falsely accused of abusing their own children. The family was completely cleared by the courts, but subject to a gag order preventing them from being identified by name. Violation of the gag order will bring harm on the family, such as jailing the parents or fostering of the children. In the past John Hemming has invoked parliamentary privilege to identify persons involved in family court, but in today's case he has to refrain in the knowledge that his actions would destroy the family. The courts can even spread their fear outside of Britain. A disclosure by fixcas would result in the same harm to the family. The permanent suppression of the names greatly reduces the impact of any press report and gives the perpetrators absolute protection against the kind of reporting most feared by wrongdoers exercising police power: showing the faces of the innocent on television. Court systems that muzzle the press by further harming their victims have the same legitimacy as the regime of Saddam Hussein.
These loving parents were branded abusers - yet the courts won't let them clear their names: SUE REID on a chilling case that raises profound new questions about justice and Britain's culture of secrecy
- Parents cleared of wrongdoing but barred from proclaiming innocence
- Accused of causing broken bones in three young children
- But injuries were caused by inherited disorders
Playing in their large garden, this family look happy and content.
A pair of twins, a brother and sister aged two, reach out to cuddle their parents who, in turn, cling tightly to their youngest child, a boy of one who keeps crawling off at a fast pace towards the flower-beds.
The children are blissfully unaware that if doctors, police officers and social workers had had their way, this scene would not be taking place at all. By law, in many cases such as theirs involving family courts, it is not possible to name those involved or identify where they live.
But we can reveal that nearly two years ago, the parents were wrongly accused of the most horrific crime: shaking their children, injuring their brains and breaking their bones.
At one stage, a police officer told the family: ‘This is the worst case of child abuse I have ever come across in my 16-year career.’
During 19 months of investigations, the parents were barred from being alone with the children. Therefore the twins’ maternal grandparents (both in their late-70s) had to care for them at night while the parents slept in a separate part of the family’s home, the connecting door locked on the orders of social workers.
Astonishingly, a bell on the electric gate at the garden entrance was also disconnected by social workers.
They said it was so they could make unannounced visits to check the parents were not attacking their children.
When the mother gave birth to her third child, by Caesarean, social workers claimed there was a risk that she would hurt him. They threatened to take the baby away (even though he was being breast-fed) until the mother could be supervised round the clock in her hospital bed.
But a little over two weeks ago, a High Court judge decided that the parents had not harmed their children. Mr Justice Baker said the couple were ‘besotted’ about them and should not face ‘one scintilla’ of criticism.
He refused to allow the youngsters to be taken into care by Devon Council and, in all probability, be put up for adoption.
The judge said the couple suffered from complex medical ailments which may have been inherited by the children and which made their bones and skulls fragile.
He concluded there was a ‘real possibility’ that — rather than being the result of abuse — the twin girl’s elbow was broken when her arm was pinned down by two doctors as they tried to insert a tube for blood tests.
A fracture of her brother’s rib was also ‘likely’ to have occurred at the hospital during a medical examination.
As the mother says now: ‘It has been a nightmare. So many mistakes were made. We have lived for months under this massive terror that council social workers would take our children away. I was made to feel an evil woman by social workers. They treated me like a liar. We were accused of being child abusers by the police.
‘Now we learn that some of our children’s injuries may have been caused at the hospital where doctors were accusing us.’
It is, indeed, a disturbing story. But as this family get on with their life, there is another worrying aspect to this case.
It concerns the judge’s decision that the family cannot be identified and that their whereabouts must be kept secret until the children are grown up — even though they have done nothing wrong.
The ruling, by Mr Justice Baker at the High Court in Exeter, means that if this family allow the media to use their real names, they will be in contempt of court and risk being sent to prison.
They are frightened even to speak about their ordeal to neighbours or friends because in doing so they could identify themselves and the children as having been participants in the family court case.
The couple feel they have no choice but to comply with the ruling. However, they have agreed to brief the Mail anonymously about their plight.
These gagging orders have become normal in such family court cases where parents are eventually found innocent of any wrongdoing. Last week, Bill Bache, the family’s lawyer and an expert on family courts, said: ‘This ruling impinges on this family’s freedom of speech. This is very troubling.’
And John Hemming, the Lib Dem MP campaigning against court secrecy, added: ‘These rulings stop innocent families talking openly about their experiences and they protect the doctors, social workers and police who wrongly pointed the finger of blame at them.’
His views are endorsed by Alison Stevens, who runs the charity Parents Against Injustice.
She said: ‘Most innocent parents who win their children back face a gagging order from the family courts. It means the mistakes made by social workers, doctors and the family courts are concealed.’
So how did this travesty occur?
The couple — she a 39-year-old teacher and he a former hotel manager of 31, whom we will call Elizabeth and William — met five years ago.
They began to live together nearly three years ago — owning a bungalow in Devon — and were delighted when, after IVF treatment, Elizabeth became pregnant and gave birth in February 2011 to the twins.
Both babies were a good weight, appeared healthy, and were taken home from hospital five days later. But their daughter had trouble feeding. She lost weight and was prescribed a special high-calorie bottled milk.
She soon put on weight, and a health visitor who saw her at home when she was four months old, wrote in the child’s medical records: ‘Much better weight gain. Looks healthy and happy. Feeding improved greatly.’
Yet, three hours after that visit the baby collapsed. She stopped breathing and was taken by air ambulance to Devon and Exeter Hospital. There, doctors held down her right arm as two tubes were inserted into her hand.
‘This is probably when the fracture to her elbow happened,’ says her mother — a view endorsed by Mr Justice Baker in his published judgment on the case.
The baby recovered and went home. But three days later she was taken back to hospital with suspected meningitis.
The child was given an MRI scan which detected bleeding inside her skull. Doctors gave her a lumbar puncture (a spinal fluid test which cleared her of the disease), holding her so firmly by the legs during the procedure that her blood vessels ruptured, causing red marks.
Meanwhile, her twin brother was coming under medical scrutiny, too.
The hospital’s consultant paediatrician Dr James Hart, who was treating the girl, asked for the boy to be given a MRI scan. This revealed inter-cranial bleeding and a number of rib fractures.
An X-ray on the girl also exposed a single rib fracture and — tellingly — a fracture of her right elbow.
The hospital immediately alerted police and social services. Dr Hart said he thought the children had been shaken by either of her parents.
An official investigation was launched and it was only because the grandparents offered to care for the children that the authorities were persuaded not to remove them from the family.
‘The consultant paediatrician continued to insist we had shaken the children and caused the injuries,’ says Elizabeth today.
As a result, she says that she and the children’s father had to be ‘locked’ in a separate flat all night and were told they couldn’t be left alone with their children at any time.
The police also visited the home and as part of their investigation searched through the children’s toys.
Things became worse, when the mother became pregnant again last summer and gave birth.
When the little boy was three weeks old, he fell out of his Moses’ basket on to a wooden floor, a distance of between 18in and 24in. Despite the low height of the fall, a subsequent medical examination revealed that he had suffered skull fractures and bleeding in the brain.
This was enough for Devon Council social workers to again apply to the family court — unsuccessfully — to take all three children into care.
Crucially, the family’s medical history was not investigated by the hospital.
It was left to Elizabeth to try to see if there was a link. After hours researching on the internet, she realised that her own medical problems — she suffers from easy bruising and painful joints — could have been passed on to the children.
She therefore went to a rheumatologist who diagnosed a tissue disorder known as Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, which can cause bone fragility and bleeding within the skull.
Her partner, it turned out, also had health problems: chronic kidney stones which are associated with a calcium imbalance and reduced bone density.
When Elizabeth told the court what she had discovered, it sent the couple for an independent medical examination by one of the world’s top geneticists (and an expert on Ehlers-Danlos syndrome) in London.
He said the children were likely to have inherited disorders from their parents which ‘had an impact on their bone fragility’.
‘It was a turning point for us,’ says Elizabeth now. ‘I believe my three-week-old baby’s injuries from the fall also pointed to his genetic disposition to fragile bones.
‘I believe many other parents with similar genetic disorders are being wrongly accused of shaking their babies and child abuse. They should be told what happened to us.’
So how did this scandal happen?
Shaken baby syndrome (SBS) came to public attention in Britain in 1997 when British au pair Louise Woodward was convicted in the U.S. — she was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter — of shaking a baby to death.
SBS was said to show that any brain-bleeds or fractures of children’s bones were sure signs of deliberate abuse of babies by parents or carers.
Among the most ardent supporters of the SBS theory was Sir Roy Meadow. Trusted by the family courts, where he regularly appeared for councils accusing parents as an expert witness, Meadow was finally barred from medicine after giving evidence at the trial of Sally Clark, a solicitor whose two children had died suddenly.
He wrongly claimed there was a 73 million-to-one chance of a middle-class mother, like Sally, losing two children to cot death. Clark was subsequently convicted.
He has since successfully appealed and retired. As for Sally, she was imprisoned for three years before being freed on appeal, and has since died.
Rioch Edwards-Brown, a campaigner for accused parents, says: ‘Scores of families have had their lives destroyed by false accusations that they hurt or killed their babies by violently shaking them. They have been convicted on what is medics and social workers’ opinion and dogma rather than fact.’
After Sally’s conviction was overturned, it was found that ailments such as vitamin D deficiency which causes rickets, birth trauma (even in some Caesarean deliveries), and hereditary diseases could mimic the physical signs of the syndrome.
The Court of Appeal ruled that due to the growing confusion surrounding SBS, a conviction should never be made when there are conflicting medical opinions given in a trial. There has to be real evidence of an assault.
However, in the family courts — where guilt is decided on a ‘balance of probabilities’ — hundreds of parents every year are still being accused of shaking their babies and have had them removed into care and adopted.
Worse, these judgments are always made behind closed doors. Even if the parents have not hurt their child, secrecy rulings obstruct them from identifying themselves and openly proclaiming their innocence after the case is over.
That is just what is happening to Elizabeth and William.
Mr Justice Baker’s ruling also means that only the one doctor actually named in his final judgment, when he cleared the parents, can be identified publicly.
As a frightening result, the identities of the social workers, the police officers and nearly all the hospital medics who provoked this family’s nightmare are now hidden behind a cloak of secrecy.
Is that justice? When the judge was shown happy, smiling photographs of the family together he said they illustrated the ‘manifest devotion’ of both Elizabeth and William to their two boys and girl.
He added: ‘They are significant evidence of how much these parents love their children.’
So why, one might ask, is this couple not allowed to say who they are — and shout publicly from the rooftops that they are innocent?
Source: Daily Mail
May 15, 2013 permalink
Source: Facebook, Angus Francis
The picture above is a social worker's idea of an April Fool's joke. It is posted to the Facebook page of Angus Francis.
Mr Francis has appeared in these pages before in a story on Hastings CAS in September 2008.. Enclosed below is another more recent story mentioning Angus Francis, still with Hastings. His compensation in 2012 from Highland Shores CAS was $121,705.47 in pay and benefits.
What would CAS do if a mother posted a picture like this?
Children's Aid "struggling" to find homes for kids
The Hastings Children's Aid Society is "struggling" to find foster and adoptive homes for children of all ages.
Angus Francis, manager of the society's Child in Care services department, made the statement Saturday at the Family Space-Ontario Early Years Centre on MacDonald Avenue.
His remarks came during a celebration of National Child Day, when local agencies held a free family concert.
It was attended by more than 100 people, most of them children and parents.
Children danced and played while local trio The Fiddleheads performed, but Francis said other children's needs aren't being met.
"We have everyone from infants to teenagers that we're struggling to find homes for," Francis said.
"About 70 kids are still waiting for adoption.
"We had 32 adopted last year. We're on track to adopt 30 this year.
"But the need is constant."
Call the society at 613-962-9291 to learn more about how you can help.
Source: Belleville Intelligencer
Brenda followed up with a series of phone calls on this incident. Names are taken from voice recordings, there is no way to know the true spelling.
After complaints started to come in, the original photo was removed from the Facebook page of Angus Francis. Attila Vinczer and at least one other person posting copies had them removed by Facebook and further had their accounts suspended for 12 hours. Attila says CAS complained and Facebook informed him it violated their "Community Standards" rules.
To recap, posting for two weeks by Angus Francis was great fun, but posting for a few hours by critics violated community standards. Get it?
Source: Facebook, Canada Court Watch
Film Police Beating
May 13, 2013 permalink
When Baltimore police were beating a man one of the cops noticed Makia Smith filming the incident. They attacked the woman and threatened to remove her two-year-old daughter.
Based on this, and many other stories, threats by police and prosecutors to remove children from a family are routine.
Beaten for Filming a Beating, Woman Says
BALTIMORE (CN) - Baltimore police beat up a woman and smashed her camera for filming them beating up a man, telling her: "You want to film something bitch? Film this!" the woman claims in court.
Makia Smith sued the Baltimore Police Department, Police Commissioner Anthony Batts and police Officers Nathan Church, William Pilkerton, Jr., Nathan Ulmer and Kenneth Campbell in Federal Court.
Smith claims she was stuck in stand-still rush hour traffic in northern Baltimore when she saw the defendant officers beating up and arresting a young man.
She says pulled out her camera, stood on her car's door sill and filmed the beating.
"Officer Church saw plaintiff filming the beating and ran at her," the complaint states. "He scared her and she sat back in her vehicle. As he ran at her, he yelled, 'You want to film something bitch? Film this!'
"Officer Church reached into plaintiff's car and grabbed her telephone-camera out of her hand, threw it to the ground and destroyed it by smashing it with his foot.
"Officer Church pulled plaintiff out of her car by her hair and beat her. Officers Pilkerton, Ulmer, and Campbell then ran to plaintiff's car and joined Officer Church in beating plaintiff and arrested her using excessive force. At all times described herein, plaintiff's two year old daughter witnessed her mother's beating and arrest by the Officers, as did others."
Smith claims the cops taunted her and threatened to take her daughter away. She says they refused to call her mother to her toddler.
"The officers, despite the pleas of plaintiff, refused to call plaintiff's mother. Instead, the officers tormented plaintiff by telling her that her daughter would be taken from her and sent to Social Services. Seeing plaintiff's distressful reaction to these tormenting threats, they continued," the complaint states.
Smith says claims she was arrested and taken to jail on bogus charges that she assaulted Church and resisted arrest.
She claims Church failed to appear for her trial - twice, and prosecutors dropped the charges, but she had to hire a lawyer and spend more money recovering her impounded car.
She claims Baltimore police have a history of illegally seizing and destroying recording devices.
She seeks $1.5 million in compensatory and punitive damages for civil rights violations, conversion and infliction of emotional distress.
She is represented by Christopher Lyon, with Astrachan Gunst Thomas.
Police departments around the country have been accused of similar responses to citizens filming them abusing other people.
Source: Courthouse News Service
May 13, 2013 permalink
Florida child-welfare caseworker Sashelle Alamo-Rios falsely recorded visits to foster homes that never happened.
Caseworker didn't check on children, arrested for falsifying records
Sashelle Alamo-Rios charged with 11 counts of falsifying records.
A child-welfare caseworker was arrested Wednesday, charged with not visiting children for scheduled appointments and falsifying records to cover it up, court documents show.
Sashelle Alamo-Rios, 27, was working as a case manager for the Children's Home Society of Florida, which has a contract with the Florida Department of Children and Families to provide services to foster children, a CHSF spokesperson said.
Alamo-Rios is facing 11 counts of falsifying records between Jan. 20 and March 22 of 2012 after a foster caregiver told the chief investigator for DCF that she did not see Alamo-Rios on several scheduled appointments, court records show.
The foster mom "recorded DCF's visitations on a calendar and Alamo-Rios did not keep the face-to-face meetings," despite turning in records for travel reimbursements, according to investigate documents filed by the Orange-Osceola Ninth Circuit State Attorney's Office.
An initial tip was reported to CHSF in March 2012. Officials from that agency contacted DCF's Office of Inspector General with the tip and the investigation ensued.
"We take our responsibility for keeping kids safe seriously," CHSF Central Florida Executive Director Tara Hormell said. "We have a zero tolerance policy on falsification."
Alamo-Rios worked for CHSF for 22 months with children who are victims of abuse and neglect before being put on suspension, Hormell said.
She was put on suspension when the investigation started, but quit before CHSF could fire her, according to Hormell.
According to court documents, investigators determined that "none of the children were placed at risk or harmed."
CHSF has 89 locations throughout the state and helps about 90,000 children annually, Hormell said.
Source: Orlando Sentinel
Get Out of Court
May 12, 2013 permalink
Vern Beck reports on Facebook that teenagers were excluded from a courtroom in a family case involving their sibling.
In a court hearing recently, the CAS lawyer asked that informed teens and family members be removed from the court. The informed teens had come to the court in support of their parents and their younger sibling who was needlessly in care of the CAS. The teens wanted to be in court and were fed up with the way in which the CAS and its reckless and unregistered workers had been treating their family and their younger sibling for the past several months.
The Child and Family Services Act states that children above 12 have the right to attend and to be informed of court matters affecting them, yet in this case the CAS and the judge wanted to maintain secrecy in the court. All the teens in this case were above 14 with one being above 18 years of age. The CAS lawyer and the judge simply did not want any witnesses, especially young Canadians to see what was going on behind the courtroom doors. The teens were made to get out of the court. The judge made some really stupid remark that parents should not allow their teens to drink under age, so why would they allow them to come to a courtroom and expose them to such "emotional" harm.
The teens were very angry at being excluded and lost their respect for the judge and the family court process. In their words, "the family court sucks" These teens saw right through the CAS lawyer and the judge who are supposed to be so "learned". The teens figured out immediately what was the judge and the CAS lawyer were up to. The teens clearly where much smarter than the judge himself and called the judge an "idiot" outside of the court.
Teens today are eager to learn and eager to see for themselves who these legal professionals are who are destroying their parents in family court. Yet, the judges and lawyers want to keep these young Canadians m in the dark and then try to compare it to underage drinking.
Unfortunately, these family court judges themselves are speeding up the very destruction of Canada's Justice system and putting the Canadian family justice system into disrepute. Young Canadians are now learning how corrupt some of the family courts are as well as these CAS lawyers who will do anything to profit the agency that employs them in the name of justice. It's is no wonder why even members of the Supreme Court of Canada are saying that family court system is in the crisis it is today.
Canada Court Watch will be making a submission to the Supreme Court of Canada and to all Chief Justices of each province in Canada as well as to all MPP's on the issue of judges keeping young Canadians out of their own family court proceedings to maintain secrecy. Its time for our family courts to be more open and accountable to the families they serve. It's time for families to be involved in the justice process, not excluded and told they are stupid.
Anyone who has had the experience with judges keeping family informed members out of court using threats and intimidation and are willing to speak out about it then please contact Canada Court Watch.
JJ Wright My lawyers threaten to quit if I brought in any of my children
Patricia Anne Turner judge said in my case kids were not to be even told what happened in court or about what was going on in proceedings, and CAS never served my children over 12 yrs of age with court documents. My kids asked to go to court and CAS wouldn't take them and tried everything to keep them quiet (I have a very vocal daughter and as soon as an OCL was appointed she said what she wanted and OCL was good in my case
Alexandra Stuart CAS had made it very clear in a supervision order that my 2 year old could not even be in a courthouse.
Destiny Davidson my daughter was asked to leave the courtroom at the age of 15 the worker at the home wroteher a note for school so she could attend. the cas asked the judge to remove her from the court room, she. was asked to leave. later the worker i hadcancelled my visit that day and rote in an affidavit, it was cancelled because i had seen her at court.
Robert T McQuaid When siblings A, B and C are in foster care and A dies, child protectors assert the right to keep the name of A secret. It might identify B and C as foster children. But when A goes to family court, they assert that siblings B and C are not involved and should be excluded from the process. What we have is an agency that uses conflicting arguments, whichever one suits their purposes at the moment.
Source: Facebook, Canada Court Watch
Lies, Damned Lies and MCFD
May 10, 2013 permalink
Last December British Columbia MCFD made an agreement with father Derek Hoare to return his daughter Ayn Van Dyk. It was a lie. The girl is still in foster care, and her mother Amie van Dyk gets occasional supervised visits.
May 9, 2013 permalink
Nine-year-old Nathan Copeland-Lewis is missing in Oshawa. According to police he has run away before and is most likely to be found in a place selling food. Reading between the lines, this looks like hungry foster runaway.
Police Request Assistance in Locating Missing Child
Durham Regional Police are requesting assistance of the public in locating a missing nine- year-old child from the Ritson Road North and Hillcroft Street area of Oshawa.
Nathan COPELAND-LEWIS ran away from Hillsdale Public School on Oshawa Boulevard North at approximately 3:15 p.m. on this date.
Nathan is described as: male, white, with a thin build, approximately 163 cm (5’ 4”) tall, with short light brown hair, wearing a white t-shirt with blue and white on it, dark blue “skinny” jeans with rips on them and black “Spiderman” rubber boots with a web pattern on them. A photo is attached.
Nathan has gone missing before and has been located in places that sell food, such as shopping malls. Searches in various locations have taken place but he has not been located.
Anyone with information about Nathan’s whereabouts is asked to call Durham Regional Police Central East Division in Oshawa at 1-888-579-1520 ext. 5200.
Source: Durham Regional Police
Note: Police say the boy was found the same evening.
Win A Prize!
May 9, 2013 permalink
Yesterday Melissa Buckingham-Russell photographed a poster at the Barrie CAS office. It is a bit late to enter, but some lucky artist will get a prize.
Fixcas suggests a truthful picture of a foster child. Watch what Cassandra Robillard's son looked like ten after she refused to give a social worker oral sex.
Of course, since CAS will be judging, truthful pictures are out of the running. Only a false picture showing foster parents and children loving each other will be considered.
Source: Facebook, Stop the CAS ...
Thanks to the efforts of Pat Niagara, we now have a copy of the poster with the technical errors corrected. It also uses a realistic example.
May 9, 2013 permalink
Funding cuts for children's aid are generating controversy. CHCH-TV has a video report featuring a statement by Kathleen Wynne (local copy mp4). The article enclosed says Norfolk council wants the funding cuts restored. All of the objections to cuts come from the workers formerly getting the funding, none come from families getting the so-called services.
County objects to CAS funding cuts
NORFOLK - Norfolk council wants the province to think twice about pending cuts to the Children’s Aid Society of Haldimand and Norfolk.
Council has directed Mayor Dennis Travale to draft a letter expressing the county’s displeasure with pending staff cuts and a reduction in service.
Simcoe Coun. Charlie Luke, an elementary school principal, raised the matter in the council chamber Tuesday night. He began by noting that council members have been inundated with emails about the cuts since the Reformer reported on them May 2.
“They need to know that these are our children,” Luke said. “If you don’t work in the business, you don’t know how important the work they do is. I like to think that I do.”
The local CAS learned in April that the cash-strapped province intends to cut its budget 2% a year over the next five years. This will reduce its funding from $21.5 million a year to $17.8 million. Because 60% of the local CAS’s budget goes toward employee wages and benefits, the agency faces the prospect of laying off some of its 160 employees.
“I have a lot of concern over what’s taking place here,” Luke said. “Our young and our old have to be looked after.”
The local CAS has 291 children in care and liaises with another 454 families. In total, the agency has dealings with more than 1,100 local children.
The local CAS received more than 2,000 referrals last year and completed 936 investigations.
Source: Simcoe Reformer
TD Bank Supports CAS
May 9, 2013 permalink
TD Bank has donated $75,000 to Windsor-Essex CAS. That is in addition to the $25,000 donated last month by Rose City Ford.
Children's Aid gets cash contribution
The Windsor-Essex Children's Aid Society has received a contribution of $75,000 from TD financial to support the construction of the Bill and Dot Muzzatti Child and Family Centre.
The centre, currently under construction, is part of the $4.4-million, two-floor expansion of the society's building on Riverside Drive, designed to provide enhanced services to children, youth and families, said Mike Clark, manager of public relations and fund development for the society.
The concept is to provide a "spacious and inviting" environment for parent and child visitations.
The project was spearheaded by a $1.25 million gift from Dorothy Muzzatti, her late husband Bill, and the Muzzatti family.
"TD values the great work that the Children's Aid Society does," said Eric Griggs, divisional vice-president of retail for TD Financial. "This support is an investment in children and youth, who are the future of our community."
Source: Windsor Star
Addendum: Vern Beck suggests a campaign to get TD Bank to correct its actions.
In May of 2013, Mr. Erick Griggs, the Regional Vice President of the TD Bank donated $75,000 to the Children's Aid Society, an organization in which CAS workers are breaking the law. All justice minded individuals are encouraged to participate in a campaign to help ensure that TD Bank does not donate any further money to the CAS until all front line CAS workers are registered with the Ontario College of Social Workers as required by law. This campaign is open to all. Visit www.advocacycanada.com to join in with this campaign. Please share this message so that others can join in the campaign as well.
In addition, download the attached Pdf file about TD financial donating money to CAS and save it on your computer. Print out copies of the article to distribute to all the TD branches in your community. Simply walk into the TD branch and hand out 3 or 4 copies to tellers and if you have any extra copies hand them out to customers and then turn around and leave the TD branch. Pass the fliers to anyone you see walking into the TD Branch.
Join in. The journey to making our child protection system the best in the world is accomplished with many small steps
Source: Facebook, Reform the CAS NOW
StatsCan Counts Foster Children
May 8, 2013 permalink
According to the latest StatsCan report, Canada has 57,380 foster children, half of them aboriginals. The original table is at StatsCan. Analysis of the tables shows figures even more biased than the news report. Among aboriginals 4.6% of the children are in foster care, 28,515 in all. Among the rest of the population 0.3% are in foster care, 28,865 children. Put another way, aboriginal kids are fifteen times as likely to get snatched. StatsCan cautions that the results are unreliable because the surveys were voluntary. Last year the reported foster total was 47,885.
‘Tragic’ number of aboriginal children in foster care stuns even the experts
OTTAWA – Nearly half of children under 14 in foster care in Canada are aboriginal children — a number that exceeds even the grimmest estimates of a leading First Nations’ child welfare advocate.
Newly released data from the National Household Survey suggest that, of the approximately 30,000 children in care in Canada in 2011, 14,225 were aboriginal.
Overall, four per cent of aboriginal children were in care, compared to a scant 0.3 per cent of non-aboriginal children, or 15,345 children.
“It’s tragic, because these numbers far outstrip even our projections,” said Cindy Blackstock, executive director of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada. Her figures had suggested aboriginals made up “30 to 40 per cent of the kids” in foster care.
“What people need to know is that the factors driving these children into foster care are not abuse-related,” she said. “That doesn’t mean that sexual and physical abuse does not happen in our communities. It does, and we need to courageously deal with it.”
But neglect, fuelled by poverty, poor housing and substance misuse, is the main factor behind the over-representation of aboriginal children in care, she said. “Those are all things that child welfare can do something about,” Blackstock said.
“What we have here is a very dire statistic for children who, just like their parents in many cases, are being removed from their families because of state neglect,” Blackstock said. “The government is simply not giving these children the same opportunity to grow up with their families that all other Canadian children enjoy.”
A spokesperson for federal Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt said Aboriginal children in care “is a responsibility shared between the federal government, the provinces and territories and Aboriginal communities.
“We are moving forward with partners to implement an enhanced prevention approach to better ensure that children get the services they need,” said spokesperson Andrea Richer.
Children raised in foster care tend to do more poorly in school and are more likely to experience depression and substance abuse, Blackstock said.
“We should spend all the energy we can to keep kids safely in their families,” she said. “I’m not a utopian thinker. I think some kids do need to be in foster care. But not at the rates that we’re seeing.”
Less than half of aboriginal children lived in homes with both of their parents, compared to more than three-quarters of non-aboriginal children, according to the survey. And 34 per cent of aboriginal children – about 135,000 – lived in a lone-parent family, twice the ratio of non-aboriginal children. Most of those single parents are women.
More than one-quarter of Canada’s aboriginal population were 14 and under, and nearly one-fifth were ages 15 to 24, according to the voluntary survey, which replaced the mandatory long-form census the Conservative government scrapped in 2010.
Statisticians caution there is no way of knowing how good or bad the information is from the National Household Survey. The voluntary nature of the survey leaves gaps in the data from groups that tend not to respond to voluntary surveys, including aboriginals, new immigrants and low-income families. Experts believe the data should provide a fairly accurate broad scale picture of Canada, but that the smaller the group surveyed, the less reliable the information.
The rising numbers of aboriginal youths accompany the overall steady growth in First Nations, Metis and Inuit populations, which now number more than 1.4 million combined. That means aboriginals are 4.3 per cent of Canada’s overall population, compared to 3.8 per cent in 2006 and 2.8 per cent in 1996.
Between 2006 and 2011, the aboriginal population increased at a rate of 20 per cent, compared to the five-per-cent increase in the non-aboriginal population. The median age of the aboriginal population in 2011 was 28, compared to 41 for non-aboriginals.
The growing younger population is due to higher fertility rates and shorter life expectancy among aboriginals, the survey says.
But experts have also noted that legislative changes, court rulings and the combination of an increase in indigenous pride and decreased discrimination have prompted many people to report their aboriginal ancestry.
The data regarding family circumstances of aboriginal children also underscore the importance, highlighted by recent studies, that the circumstances of early childhood can have on later educational performance.
Aboriginal children ages four and under were somewhat less likely to be in foster care than those who were older (3.1% versus 3.9% of those aged five to 14).
Even then, “it’s a devastating number. It makes your stomach boil,” said Ken Coates, Canada Research Chair in regional innovation and an expert on aboriginal issues at the University of Saskatchewan.
The numbers underscore “a tragic legacy that we don’t talk about as openly as we should in Canada,” Coates said. “What you’re seeing is the impact on children on family breakdown, alcohol or drug abuse and cultural loss in aboriginal communities.”
Ontario Regional Chief Stan Beardy, whose organization represents Ontario’s 133 First Nations, said the household survey numbers reflect the intergenerational fallout of the residential schools system. “A large number of our First Nation elders — grandparents, parents — spent years in residential schools, from the time they were five or six years old, until their mid-teens,” he said.
“You don’t learn healthy parenting skills when you grow up in an institution.”
Allan Adam, chief of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation in Alberta, said more resources are needed to help parents “provide adequate living conditions for their loved ones” and reduce the number of children in state care.
Honoring Family Destruction
May 7, 2013 permalink
Executives of Hockley Valley Resort are photographed proudly donating $5,000 to Family Transition Place, Orangeville's women's shelter. It is a feel-good event, contributing to charity. The dark reality is that Family Transition Place is an arm of the family destruction process. Canada Court Watch gathered experiences in A Look Inside Women's Shelters. Several women have told fixcas they lost their children as a result of taking refuge in Family Transition Place.
$5,000 FOR FTP:
Source: Orangeville Citizen
Hamilton Courthouse Bombed
May 7, 2013 permalink
The Hamilton courthouse was the target of a firebomb yesterday. The stone structure suffered little damage. No word yet on whether the court system will publicize the incident or keep it from the press.
Vernon Beck Hamilton Courthouse firebombed today: Insiders at Hamilton Court House contacted Canada Court Watch minutes after it happened to advise us that an angry citizen pulled up in front of the Hamilton Courthouse and poured gasoline on the front of the court and set it on fire. The person was upset about one of the judges and some lawyers. We don't have any details yet as to who was arrested, but we expect some news by tomorrow will be released. Damage to the court was minimal as the court is made of stone.
Source: Facebook, Canada Court Watch
Addendum: Two days later it is clear the press is ignoring the story.
Fire Bomb at the Hamilton, Ontario courthouse
Photo taken after firebombing at Hamiton, Ontario Courthouse: A citizen stands at the spot in front of the Hamilton courthouse shorty after a man poured gasoline ablaze at the front of the main courthouse doors. According to persons at the scene the citizen who did this was upset with a judge and with a lawyer. Most likely he got screwed by the court. Only damage that can be see is the melted garbage receptacle and the black on the stone steps. According to persons at the court a man was arrested and taken away.
For some strange reason, this story was not reported in the local media. It is rumored that this story was kept from the mainstream press to help avoid copycat incidents.
Source: Facebook, Canada Court Watch
You @#*^$%* Social Worker!
May 6, 2013 permalink
Fixcas has included many incidents of fathers arrested after attacking social workers in the act of seizing their children. But in today's story from South Carolina there was no weapon and no violence. Mother Christina Lynn Prince, who was unhappy at separation from her children, cursed out a social worker. Prince was charged with a crime. Given how pervasive profanity is in today's speech, this could get just about every parent in a protection case jailed.
Union woman charged with threatening Social Services employee
Union Police Department
Christina Lynn Prince, 25, of 104 Baber St. in Union, has been charged with threatening a public employee.
Prince is accused of verbally threatening an employee with the Union County Department of Social Services on April 15.
An officer responded to a report of disorderly conduct at the social services office. A case worker said Prince became upset and began cursing after she was told she could not see her children without supervision, according to an incident report.
Prince was escorted from the building and is accused of making verbal threats toward an employee.
Source: Spartanburg Herald-Journal
Line in the Sand
May 6, 2013 permalink
Catherine Frei writes on children's aid. For fixcas readers there is little new in her well-informed message. There is some new material in fifteen reader comments.
The line is being drawn in the sand for Ontario’s Children’s Aid Societies
After much criticism, especially in recent months, it looks as if things will be changing for Ontario’s child protection agencies. With Bill 42 passing second reading on April 11, 2013 (a bill to allow the Ombudsman the powers to investigate the Children’s Aid), a new funding formula being implemented by the province, scathing reports of abuse of power, and endless stories of abuse of children and youth in care saturating the media, it looks as if Ontario’s Children’s Aid Societies (CAS) will be operating under greater scrutiny in the very near future.
This type of oversight has been long sought after as Ontario is the only province or territory in Canada that does not have independent oversight of these agencies which receive in excess of 1.5 billion dollars of taxpayers money each year. All of the investigative work is done internally, Board of Directors investigate complaints and the Child and Family Service Review Board is only able to investigate matters that are not before the courts.
There is virtually no recourse for families dealing with false allegations and evidently there are no proper investigations conducted. The Ministry of Child and Youth Services is governed by the province but the agencies themselves are private corporations, with no accountability or transparency, and an absence of proper checks and balances in place. In other words, we have the fox watching the chicken coup.
This year began with negative accounts of their inner workings, as Provincial Child Advocate, Irwin Elman, spoke to The Star in January about the systematic problems he is discovering within the system. Many children and youth die under the care of these agencies and little is being done to prevent these tragedies from reoccurring. During Elman’s interview it was also stated that, “Hundreds of key recommendations to prevent the deaths of children in custody have been ignored or rejected by government agencies.” Elman also cited that according to his office’s database,” Of the 1,635 recommendations made since 1995, only 17 per cent had been implemented. Another 24 per cent were listed as “had or will be implemented.”
In recent years there have been many reports of abuse, physical, sexual and even pedophiles going undetected. The agencies go to great lengths to protect those responsible for the abuse – not the children. Elman also referred to the privacy laws in the Child and Family Services Act as “bizarre.” It would seem as though these laws are in place to protect the agencies – not the vulnerable children and youth that they are charged with the responsibility to protect.
Past audits have raised concerns about misappropriated funds, lavish vacations, expensive SUV’s and the list goes on. There has been a recent investigation into the spending of a few agencies, among those chosen is Family and Children’s Services of the Waterloo Region and those results are due to be released soon. There are some agencies that receive even more funding annually than their municipal police forces, an organization that they have even more power over.
One prime example of the type of secrecy they maintain is the case of Donald Klasges, the 65-year-old foster parent that was sentenced to seven years in prison in 2010 for abusing a foster child and impregnating her. The Sudbury and Manitoulin District Children’s Aid Societies fought vigorously to have not only his name kept private, but all other reporting on the case as well. One can only imagine the tens of thousands of dollars that it must have cost the taxpayers for legal fees. Klasges sexually abused a young girl in his care from the time of her arrival at his home at age 11, until she was 14 and became pregnant as a result. Over the years he had 42 different foster children placed in his care, so this begs the question ….. Why would they want to keep his name, and the nature of his crimes secret with that many other children out there who potentially could have been victims of his abuse?
This case is not an isolated one, our province is plagued with these types of abuses, yet the Children’s Aid will continue to cry out to the public, pulling on their heartstrings for more money for the children they claim to protect. In the future we may very well see class action lawsuits against the province for damages by victims, and to remedy the problems it will be up to Ontario taxpayers once again. There are a slew of other social problems it will create that are very far reaching.
Recently we have seen scathing reports from Barbara Kay with the National Post, Katie Daubs from The Star, and many others in recent years alerting the public, despite the many limits and constraints due to privacy laws. The latest and most disturbing development was in March this year when Daubs reported on Peel Children’s Aid Society and the internal memo that was leaked to the media. The memo was urging staff to keep files open and begin as many new investigations as possible to secure funding. To date, the agencies funding is based on the number of children in care and files open. The implications of such a request are very serious, and if carried out would have profoundly negative effects on children and their families. As Daubs points out, it is a funding formula with “perverse incentives.”
Since 2006, several bills have been introduced calling for Ombudsman oversight. NDP leader, Andrea Horwath, was the first to introduce Bill 88 in 2006, which never made it past first reading, and two more bills were introduced since with no success. Finally, Monique Taylor of the NDP party introduced Bill 110 which made it through first and second reading to only be prorogued shortly afterwards due to Dalton McGuinty’s resignation. Undiscouraged by this, Taylor promptly introduced Bill 42 in late March of this year. It passed first and second reading with both the PC and NDP party voting unanimously in support of the bill along with one Liberal representative in agreement. The final vote was 55-34 in favour.
Provincial Ombudsman, Andre Marin, has been requesting the authority to investigate the Children’s Aid, but to date it has been staunchly opposed by the Liberal government. For advocates such as Neil Haskett and his wife Tabatha Haskett, they have been advocating for change since 2005. Founders of “The Ontario Coalition for Accountability,” they have worked tirelessly to get our politicians on board and have finally, along with many other advocates around the province, succeeded in getting two of three parties to agree that we have systematic problems that need urgent attention and the Ombudsman would be a good start.
Since Marin took office in April of 2005 there have been 3,537 complaints from that time until February 28, 2013, none of which he has been able to investigate. To allow him the power to investigate he would have the ability to look directly into their files, make recommendations and even lay criminal charges if that type of activity is uncovered.
Christina Hurst April 30, 2013 at 7:58 pm
Excellent read. I would like to add that CAS uses phycotropic drugs on these children, most of which are not recommended for children under the age of 18 years,and most of the children don’t need them. CAS has many private psychologists and psychiatrists on their payrolls, they will say anything, document anything in order for the children to be medicated. My own daughter is a being “drugged for profit” as well has been abandoned to a group home as they said “they have no where else to put her”.How about her home? why would they dump her into a group home? Profit! My daughter wants nothing more then to be home with her family, these people dont care about her needs, just the income she generates for them. They say kids are flexible and will adjust,well of course they will, after they have medicated them .No one is allowed to tell her they love her, only I can do that,and hearing it once every two weeks is not enough for a child.
October Fostey April 30, 2013 at 8:12 pm
I have prayed for this for many years now. I work hard to advocate for the families I serve and have had minimal results from challenging the CAS in our area when they have intimidated and terrorized some of the clients I have been proud to serve. The untold trauma’s these families and children have faced is horrendous and I can only hope that those who have been directly affected by these agencies will be justly served. Thank you so much for publishing this information. A new day will begin now.
Kelly Bedard April 30, 2013 at 9:14 pm
The Sarnia Lambton CAS took their turn with us and I’m happy to say they lost. We won our costs however nowhere near what it really cost our family. We knew our rights and would not back down. We actually have the first published case against Sarnia in the Ontario Court of Justice. The presiding Justice saw through their lies and actually was quite critical of the tactics they had deployed. He agreed there appeared to be a personal vendetta between the worker and us. A children’s lawyer also made comment that the Society had put more resources into our case than any other they had ever seen. We will be pursuing legal action in a class action if it is granted status. Feel free to look up the case on CanLii under 2011ONCJ 802. This Bill is well past due.
AboutTime April 30, 2013 at 11:08 pm
Fantastic! It’s about time. Many people don’t pay attention or even care until it affects you but when it does, wow…what an eye-opener. Seriously? An organization with more power than the police who doesn’t have to answer to anyone and can hide so much behind the privacy laws, and they clearly watch each others backs too. You can add Cochrane to the list of agencies that leave a lot to be desired. You know in some cases it only takes one or two caseworkers with hidden agendas or a bias to terrorize communities and ruin good families. I would very much welcome a class action and in the meantime I will continue to document and wait for the day that I can expose the corruption and incompetence in north eastern Ontario as well.
July Mcdonald April 30, 2013 at 11:31 pm
Thank you very much for this article. Well researched, well written and to the facts. I wish there were more article such as this one! Our tax dollars are being spent on an organization (private one at that) that has no accountability. To me, as a Canadian citizen that is unacceptable. Our Government need to wake up and smell the roses because we will not stand for this kind of behaviour.
purley quirt May 1, 2013 at 11:45 am
This article is an excellent summary of the parts, and reflects the observations of the many. However, I would like to add a common denominator that invades several ” systems” originally designed to help people( police, physicians, counsellors, schools ) where a “disassociation” has occurred and people are only seen ( and understood) on a “per event ” basis. The life of others is only a ” moment in time”…. to be passed over ….or passed on.. to another person. This total “breaking’ of the bond of brotherly love and caring for our neighbor” has left us all shattered and broken ( even the workers). The cure is not to be placed solely on yet another government service… Someone inside society itself, inside the neighborhood, inside caring individuals, need to connect people to ” restoration” of their lives ( both the helpers and the victims who can no longer see anything beyond their own needs).
The CAS stands out as a “group” that does not even follow it’s own standards of operation and demonstrates the boldness people have that are ” not answerable to anyone”. This makes it a perfect scapegoat. I welcome that answerability…. but it does not remove the reality that we are answerable to God for the right things that we ” failed to do” …. all of us.
The CAS concept needs a total return back to rescuing the family and understanding how much the children need the love of their own parents. A hope exists………We stand at the threshold of government $ funding a ” whole society” perspective of health ( Population Health) and that is our doorway to getting it right …NOT… simply the Ombudsman discovering what’s wrong… there must ALSO be something that “sets it right” again!
Brad May 1, 2013 at 1:37 pm
Other professions and organizations abuse these foot soldiers themselves. One such incident being a bunch of parents as well as myself at my son’s school having them called on us for basically not signing up with a dentist (from what I understand). We were all required to fill out some forms and return them to her but a lot of the parents’ dentists were either too busy or refuse to sign them, though they see the child regularly. Situations like that do NOT require cas attention, not over unfilled forms. Some parents already received visits (I was only threatened via letter to have them notified). My son’s dentist took care of everything and were upset over it just as the rest of us. I’ve already had to fight and get him home when he was first born over his mother’s previous relationship involvement with them even though her and I were broken up. Got him home just after a year old (finally home from the hospital since he was taken a month after premature birth)but they had false accusations I continuously had to prove myself for the next couple years. Up until this dental incident they left me alone and we left them alone. Dr. Maria Van Harten was the name on my letter.
Khrystyne May 1, 2013 at 2:04 pm
I am glad that finally Children’s Aid will be exposed. When I was young, my mother came home and I was not there. The children’s Aid worker took me and placed me in a foster home. I didn’t know how I got there, nor do I remember when I returned to my mother. But I remember that my mother gave the worker a good tongue lashing, and she never tried that stunt on my mother again. This happened back in the Mid ’70′s. You have to stand up to them or they will take over. I hope others will agree with me. For those who are able, take them down.
marriam amber hammoudi May 1, 2013 at 10:17 pm
my case is 1251 days old tomorrow… a final order has been placed upon us by stratford family court judge r.w.rogerson…having based his judgement on a parenting capacity assessment done by doc wittenberg of sick kids toronto, and the testistimony of social workers from victoria goderich and stratford offices…with a warning not to publish or go to the media about my story…which started in goderich during a family vacation…followed us home to voctoria, brought us back foricablly to goodercich and by court oder held us there..foloowed us to stratford , reapprehended our babies and went for crown ward ship with no access…this wittenberg fellow recommended it… the judge has granted them crownwardship no access..no access because ourildren will be harder to adopt if the see us…they have been labled protesdent when we are not. my daughter wont settle for them and a psychiatris form stroaford S.S.U. doc salo…diagnosed her with adhd and recommended placing her on biphentin….says if they dont she’ll be a teenage mom high school drop out with low grades drug addict… really i attended a meeting where this creature with a licennsec to prescribe medication sat acrooss form me and spewed this shit out of her mouth about my baby… our appeall was just accepted by the supreme court and my lawyer’s reviewing transcripts… we havent seen our babes since december…and GOD only knows when this will end…
Fred May 1, 2013 at 10:23 pm
This article is wonderful. As others have said you do not realize what goes on until you have to deal with this agency. We would not support hospitals without registered nurses – why do we support this agency where most of the “social workers” are not registered so that they can avoid practicing according to the professional standards of the College of Social Workers. The agency needs accountability not the extra money being given to waterloo by the Liberal government. Oversight is definitely in order and the ombudsman can expect to be busy
Fred May 1, 2013 at 10:23 pm
This article is wonderful. As others have said you do not realize what goes on until you have to deal with this agency. We would not support hospitals without registered nurses – why do we support this agency where most of the “social workers” are not registered so that they can avoid practicing according to the professional standards of the College of Social Workers. The agency needs accountability not the extra money being given to waterloo by the Liberal government. Oversight is definitely in order and the ombudsman can expect to be busy
Shelley May 4, 2013 at 8:24 pm
I once lived in the CCAS and I was in a receving home and was smacked cause they thought I was drink so I ran away and they had helacoptior s up looking for me and the police I had to live on the street for about 3 weeks and when I finally got found I was sleeping in an under ground grauge in a boat and I told them that I did not want to go back to the home cause I was feeling like I was begin center out. Now I alos have children that I have been fighting for and fasle allagiction were made against me and now I do not have my child cause of the ccas or cas I am trying to get my 4 year year old home now but cause there is a one year to fight for you child the cas new about a parenting capacity that was done on myself that they kept saying to myself and the father that we may ask for a parenting capacity and when they finally asked for it my child was 8 months old and we were put on a waiting list and was not seen till my child was 11 months old so basically we lots all right to our child we told that if we did this that the cas would work with us but in fact they went against us and asked for crownward with access even tho the parenting capacity was sort of in our fav but because the one year was not meet cause the capacity was not done till june we lots our right and had to agree to kinship care as we thought it was going to help us beable to work to bring our child home but the cas went for corwnward on us I feel that it was all a lie and they did what they had to to keep our child away from us and only giving us one visit a week with our child and now that she is going to start school in sept they want the kinship to adopt her and we lose all our right to our child and that tears us apart
Terri-Anne Bucholtz May 5, 2013 at 2:48 pm
I truly believe Esther Buckareff deserves a major MEDAL OF FREEDOM !!! there SHOULD BE A MONUMENT BUILT IN HER HONOR!!!!
Wow between her BEAUTIFUL & MOST FEARED By cas most intelligent work with the complete support of her faculty!! , along with the warriors of the coalition against FAMILY TERRORISM & CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY, LEADERS FROM all our local groups THEY ALL TRULY DESERVE A MEDAL OF FREEDOM !!! I sense that acknowledgements in the future as we watch on the history channel , will address them ALL as HERO’s , as they stay strong and fight for the GREAT OF GOOD :) THey all do this work for FREE not one dime payed as a advocate and fighter for YOU ! and your FUTURE FOR YOUR CHILDREN’S WELLBEING RIGHTS & SAFETY IN SOCIETY ! and point out how your getting bluffed to support it as a hard working TAX PAYER .
with all of the controversy and PROOF of the Powers resistance rational moral , take accountability & or to show morale with working together to find great resolutions , , it proves exactly the POINT WE MAKE -- RAPE RAPE -- HELP RAPE !!! FOR THE FUTURE !!! WITH NO FREEDOM OF SPEECH NO FREEDOM TO healthy debate / to FIGHT TO PROTECT THE FUTURE ! we are being completely RAPED by our own Country
ALL OF THE GROUP leaders are WARRIORS ! deserve a medal of FREEDOM ! if they / we are all able to "STICK TOGETHER PERSISTENT & STRONG" , to LIBERATE our FUTURE to be HERO'S to these family's and kids, they need so desperately!! Our children need to learn compassion as they fight for whats RIGHT to be a true Canadian !
Advocate May 5, 2013 at 2:56 pm
Thank you for the posting the website for this very controversial but important documentary that sheds light on the inner workings of child “so-called” protection in Ontario. I took part in this doc and was an assistant researcher for the doc as well. Esther received a more than well deserved award for it, and it is a fine work that speaks mounds and gives all of the children that have died in the care of CAS a voice from the grave as well. It was an honour to work with her, know her and I will be forever thankful for her committment and integrity. She deserves all the praise she has received so far … and then some. I encourage people to watch the doc online, it is only 75 mins long but a real eye-opener!
Source: Cambridge Citizen
Vicky Haigh Jailed for ██████████
May 6, 2013 permalink
A mother sent to prison on evidence she cannot see
The case of Vicky Haigh highlights what passes for justice in Britain today
If the mother of a two-year-old child can be sent to prison solely on the basis of a supposed statement she is not allowed to see and which appears to have been concocted in very mysterious circumstances, we may wonder what passes for justice in the Britain of 2013. This is what has happened to Vicky Haigh, the former racehorse trainer, who for some years has been at the centre of one of the oddest cases of parents falling foul of our child-protection system that I have ever reported.
Last year Miss Haigh was sentenced to three years in prison – the longest such sentence ever recorded – for breach of a “non-molestation order” relating to her daughter by her former husband. Her offence had been to run into the girl at a petrol station. The girl had recently been taken from her care after a long case involving social workers, which ended with her ex-husband being given custody. Miss Haigh then won extensive coverage by fleeing to Ireland to prevent social workers seizing at birth the baby she now expected by the partner with whom she and her daughter had lived happily for six years, with Miss Haigh acting as stepmother to his three children.
Leaving her new baby in Ireland, she returned to face the non-molestation charge, thinking it would be dismissed, only to find that her case had now been taken over by Lord Justice Wall, then head of the Family Division, who took the unusual step of publishing a judgment very hostile to her. A third judge then gave Miss Haigh that record sentence for speaking to her daughter at the petrol station. After she had served seven months as a “model prisoner”, yet another judge agreed that her sentence was “manifestly excessive” and she was allowed to return home on probation to her family.
A former policeman, David Gale, who stood as a Ukip candidate for police commissioner in Derbyshire, then became interested in what he believed to be serious discrepancies in the handling of her original case by social services. By providing police with new evidence, he triggered off an internal police inquiry, and was told that the papers would be presented to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) on April 28.
Early last month, however, Miss Haigh was visiting a pub for lunch with her partner and their family. Apparently, she was approached by a barmaid who seemed to know a lot about her, claiming to know her older daughter. The children, who had grown up with the girl, plied this woman with questions and messages for someone they looked on as their sister. Miss Haigh says that, concerned by what was going on, she was careful to say very little about her lost daughter, later contacting friends to describe what she thought had been a “bizarre” incident.
A week later she went to meet her probation officer, wanting to discuss the episode in the pub, only to find two of them present, aggressively telling her that a statement from the barmaid alleged that she had tried to pass messages to her daughter. Mr Gale was later told by the Ministry of Justice that, according to the statement, Miss Haigh had been “trying to contact her sister”, suggesting that this referred not to her but to a step-daughter.
On April 26, two days before the police dossier was supposed to be handed to the CPS, two policemen arrived at 9am, with a warrant for Miss Haigh’s arrest for breaching her probation order. She is now in Peterborough prison for 28 days, leaving her family baffled by what has happened. The police refused to take a statement from Miss Haigh’s partner, who witnessed what happened in the pub. The family have not been allowed to see the barmaid’s statement, or to challenge it.
Why this mother is back in prison remains as much a mystery as why she was given that unprecedented sentence for speaking to her older daughter in the first place.
Source: Telegraph (UK)
May 4, 2013 permalink
When Paulette MacDonald got a divorce, she and her ex settled their affairs like grown-ups. But her new partner is in a never-ending struggle with his former wife that has wrecked the lives of the two spouses and their children. This article on mom vs dad appears here because Paulette makes the best suggestion yet for reforming the family law mess: Parents -- not judges -- ought to make decisions on issues such as when children visit grandparents, when they'll take vacations, and the organized sports they play. Our court system is so outdated and broken it actually facilitates this kind of situation. Healthy parents don't need to go to court to be told how to raise their children.
Oshawa woman seeks changes to family law process
Children harmed by divorce battles: advocate
OSHAWA -- Children shouldn't be casualties in battles between warring parents.
That's the message espoused by an Oshawa woman who's pressing for changes to a family law system that she says places too much emphasis on litigation, an acrimonious approach to separation that often leaves kids caught in the middle.
"Even if you have a healthy divorce it's extremely hard on kids," said Paulette MacDonald. "If you throw this other BS into the mix, they don't stand a chance."
Ms. MacDonald was delighted when Oshawa City council proclaimed Thursday, April 25, Parent Alienation Awareness Day. She's hoping to raise awareness about the need for reform to the Divorce Act, and the family law process.
Ms. MacDonald said she and her husband divorced amicably years ago.
"We agreed to put our kids first," she said. "We never set foot inside a courtroom."
It was later in life, when she became involved with a man in the midst of a bitterly contested divorce, that she became aware of just how messy the process can be. She said she watched as the former husband and wife battled, often using their children to further their agendas.
The protracted battle resulted in police involvement, broken-hearted children, and sky-high legal bills, she said. Unable to reach agreement on the most fundamental aspects of child-rearing, they depended on the courts to resolve such matters.
It's Ms. MacDonald's opinion that parents -- not judges -- ought to make decisions on issues such as when children visit grandparents, when they'll take vacations, and the organized sports they play.
"Our court system is so outdated and broken it actually facilitates this kind of situation," she said. "Healthy parents don't need to go to court to be told how to raise their children."
She wants to see legislative changes that would require divorcing couples to agree to equal, shared parenting arrangements, and attend mandatory mediation sessions to work issues through.
The way to guarantee the needs of children are fulfilled is through consensus, not a court system predicated on an adversarial approach, she said.
"When you have kids involved you can't act like a child yourself," Ms. MacDonald said.
"Love your children more than you hate your ex."
Source: Metroland Durham Region
No Dogs for Kids
May 4, 2013 permalink
The latest reason to separate parents and children: dogs in the home. This from a reliable source within Canada Court Watch.
IF YOU HAVE DOGS YORK CAS MAY NOT ALLOW YOUR CHILDREN HOME
It has been brought to the attention of Canada Court Watch that a York CAS worker has made issue with the fact that if a family has dogs, they may have an issue with that and may not consider it a safe environment for children. No I am not kidding.
I am not at liberty to say more due to the fact that I would then be in violation of the Child and Family Services Act as this matter IS currently before the courts.
Source: Facebook, John Oakley Show
Social Worker Guilty of Attempted Murder
May 3, 2013 permalink
Ontario social worker Greg Simard has pleaded guilty to attempted murder in the beating of a twelve-year-old autistic boy. From other stories, the boy is now an invalid unable to feed himself. Link to September story.
Ontario social worker pleads guilty to trying to kill autistic boy
LONDON, ON - A 24-year-old man pleaded guilty to attempted murder Friday in the savage beating of an autistic boy in his care.
But a hearing must still be held to determine if Greg Simard is criminally responsible for the assault.
Simard pleaded guilty to a total of four charges. Some in the gallery sobbed while the facts of the case were read in court.
The boy, 12, was discovered in the woods outside the Child and Parent Resource Institute - where Simard worked - on Sept. 9, 2012.
The facility treats children with mental health and developmental issues.
After his arrest, Simard told police: "I did it for my country. He is a drain on society. His life is meaningless."
Simard was working on a short-term contract as a developmental service worker.
The hearing to determine if Simard is criminally responsible will begin Friday afternoon.
Source: Sun News Network
Prosecuted for Fatherhood
May 3, 2013 permalink
Ella Dawn Edwards was born with multiple medical problems and died at age seven months in March 2011. In today's hysterical culture of child abuse, every child death outside the child protection system merits a prosecution. Prosecutors relied on the scientifically discredited shaken baby syndrome. Father Aaron Edwards has been acquitted of causing his daughter's death.
Father found not guilty in death of daughter
Aaron Edwards was charged with involuntary manslaughter after his 7-month-old daughter died.
A jury deliberated four hours Friday before finding Aaron Edwards not guilty of killing his 7-month-old daughter in March 2011.
Edwards, 26, who was facing an involuntary manslaughter charge, took a deep breath and hugged his lawyer, Chris Tuck, after the verdict was read.
The trial in Giles County Circuit Court began one week ago, and the jury of six women and six men heard hours of testimony from medical professionals and law enforcement officials.
According to testimony, EMS personnel were called to the family’s Rich Creek home on March 1, 2011, and found Ella Dawn Edwards breathing but limp and unresponsive. Ella was taken to Carilion Giles Memorial Hospital and then flown to Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital, where she underwent surgery to relieve pressure from swelling of her brain and remained on life support for several days before dying on March 8, 2011.
Ella had retinal hemorrhages, subdural bleeding, brain swelling, six fractured ribs, bruising on the left side of her face and bruising on her chest and back, according to testimony.
Gayle Suzuki, an assistant chief medical examiner for the state department of health, testified earlier in the week that after performing an autopsy on Ella, she determined the cause of death to be abusive head trauma, which is also referred to as “shaken baby syndrome.”
But Tuck called two medical experts to the stand who testified that on March 1, 2011, Ella’s airway was compromised for whatever reason and her brain began to swell. Both said that there was evidence Ella had been vomiting and that she may have choked on her vomit, interrupting her breathing. Tuck added in his closing argument that Ella’s heart could have stopped, which would also deprive her of oxygen and cause the brain swelling. Ella was born with a hole in her heart, had respiratory problems and was vitamin D deficient, according to testimony.
The prosecution “has to rule out every reasonable theory of evidence,” Tuck said in his closing argument. “Can you honestly say they’ve done that?”
Source: Roanoke Times
Our Side Only
May 3, 2013 permalink
When Julian Ichim showed up at a CAS public meeting, he was thrown out.
CAS Freaks out, and bars us from public meeting!!!!
On May 2nd we decided to attend CAS’s public information night on Foster Parents and bring some of our own information, like articles from the Toronto Star, as well as raise issue of accountability etc. As soon as we entered the CAS building, the workers started freaking out and yelling at us, telling us to leave. I asked is this not a public meeting, on what grounds can you ask us to leave? at which point the woman grabbed me. I told her calmly that i do not enjoy being assaulted and not to touch me, at which point she continued to follow us, and physically blocked the door to prevent us from entering. When the people inside saw what was going on and how calm we were acting as opposed to her, she closed the door and locked it.
police were called and I calmly talked to the cop who was being very reasonable and saw no reason to call back up, since by this point we were on the sidewalk handing out information. Later we left to have people come back and hand more flyers to people as they were leaving.
Though todays action was good it raises some questions, What does CAS have to hide, if they wont allow people with different points of view into public meeting? its one thing if we were being disruptive to be asked to leave, but for simply attending and giving information, to freak out like that and lock the door? Are they so weak and corrupt that they can't handle any criticism or scrutiny? If they are such control freaks and act like that to me in public, how do they treat children in private?
Source: Julian Ichim blog
Baby Defenders Jailed
May 2, 2013 permalink
When Texas social worker Stephanie Vera was making plans to remove the baby girl of parents Troy Davis and Karissa Marie Ferringno, the parents and friend Shane Hensworth Douglas attacked the worker. The three attackers are in jail and the baby is in foster care.
CPS worker choked, beaten while checking on infant
HOUSTON - A Child Protective Services case worker remains hospitalized after she was attacked Tuesday while investigating a report of an abused baby.
According to Houston Police, the baby's parents and a friend beat and choked the 23 year old woman until she lost consciousness.
Case worker Stephanie Vera went to the Somerset Apartments in the 8000 block of W. Tidwell around 5 p.m. Tuesday to check on the well being of a one year old infant.
According to CPS supervisor Estella Olguin, “We were investigating allegations of medical neglect, neglect of supervision and and physical abuse. The reason the visit at the home was to conduct that investigation.”
Olguin says Vera was trying to arrange to have a relative take custody of the baby while the parents were being evaluated. During that discussion, the baby's father, identified as Troy Davis, 21, became angry, grabbed Vera and locked the apartment's front door. Police say Davis punched Vera in the head, then grabbed her by the throat, and slammed her against a wall. During the struggle, Vera managed to dial 911, but the call was cut short when Davis grabbed the phone.
According to investigators, Davis continued to choke her until she lost consciousness, while Davis’s friend, Shane Hensworth Douglas, 21 allegedly threatened Vera with a knife. The baby's mother, Karissa Marie Ferringno, 19, allegedly looked on during the confrontation. When the fighting started, police say the baby's grandmother took the child and left the apartment.
Vera was rescued by Houston Police officers who responded to her 911 call. They arrested Davis, Douglas and Ferrigno. All three were charged with aggravated assault and aggravated kidnapping. They are being held under $30,000 bond each.
CPS took custody of the baby. She has been placed in a foster home.
Vera remains hospitalized with injuries to her head and neck.
Source: KPRC - Houston
May 2, 2013 permalink
A twelve-year-old boy in Vallejo California knows the real value of the social worker providing services for him. While his mother was being harassed by the worker the boy ran at her with a kitchen knife. When police arrived, he tried to smash her car window with his bicycle.
Vallejo boy tries to stab his social worker
Vallejo police took a 12-year-old boy into custody on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon after he reportedly tried to stab a Solano County social worker who paid a visit to see him and talk to his mother, Lt. Sid DeJesus said.
DeJesus said the case worker was talking to the boy's mom about the "lack of progress he's been making and that upset him." He reportedly went into the kitchen, got a knife and charged at her but did not make contact.
As police arrived, the boy ran outside, picked up his bike and attempted to smash the social worker's vehicle window but was subdued, DeJesus said.
Source: Vallejo Times Herald
More Cuts to CAS
May 2, 2013 permalink
This is the second story in a week announcing cuts to CAS. The press and children's aid are treating it as bad news, but it is good news for children and families. CAS is urging letters to MPPs requesting increased funding. This is an opportunity for parents to write the other kind of letter, thanking their MPP for the funding cuts.
Devastating cuts to come
NORFOLK - The local children's aid society says it faces "devastating" cuts after learning it will lose millions of dollars in government funding over the next five years.
Core protection services will remain in place, but layoffs will almost certainly follow and the agency's ability to carry out preventative work with families is endangered, said Janice Robinson, executive director of the Children's Aid Society of Haldimand and Norfolk.
The organization learned in mid-April a new funding formula will translate into a cut from Queen's Park of 2% a year for each of the next five years.
Robinson said the agency was caught by surprise. The new formula was supposed to take into account such things as an area's poverty level and distances traveled to carry out its work - things that should have worked in Haldimand-Norfolk's favour.
"To say that I was shocked is not an exaggeration," Robinson said.
The agency will go through its budget "line by line" to try to find savings, but given that 90% of costs go to wages and benefits, job losses are inevitable, she said.
"At this point, we think (a smaller workforce) is something that is necessary," said Robinson.
The agency, she added, "will fight very, very hard" to continue core protection services.
"It's the narrowing of the scope of possibilities of what we offer families, that's the devastating part," Robinson said.
"We know the value in early help. If you can get to a family early, you might prevent them being involved in a bigger way."
The new formula is beginning to impact CAS agencies outside of Haldimand-Norfolk as well. Some agencies will actually get more money while others will see their budgets shrink. The Windsor-Essex CAS has already laid off 18 caseworkers.
The 160 people who work for the Haldimand-Norfolk agency have been told of the cuts and the likelihood of layoffs.
They have joined management in opposing the change and are writing letters to government officials, local MPP Toby Barrett, and even municipal politicians, asking for support.
"We are trying to get the people who are elected to hear our concerns and get them heard by those in power, and get those in power to change their minds," said Steven Murray, a child protection worker with the Haldimand-Norfolk CAS.
"We want to get the message out there that these cuts will have a drastic effect on families, kids, and youth across the province."
The Haldimand-Norfolk CAS has 291 children in care and works with another 454 families, representing more than 1,100 children in total. Last year, it received more than 2,000 referrals and completed 936 investigations.
Its budget will drop from $21.5 million a year to $17.8 million over the next five years.
In an email to the Reformer, the Ontario Ministry of Children and Youth Services said its new funding model "changes the factors by which funding is allocated to each agency. The impacts are varied across the province."
Source: Brantford Expositor
CAS Meets Public in Milford
May 1, 2013 permalink
Most of the certificates are purely routine. Fixcas took the trouble to examine the signatures in detail. In many cases successive reports use the same photocopy of the signatures.
Highland Shores CAS held its last meeting with the community on April 29 in Milford Ontario. Executive director Mark Kartusch and Brad Bain gave the presentation in chief, those two and Darcey French began answering questions at 27:45 into the recording. Community members with questions included Terri-Anne Bucholtz, Brenda Everall and Curtis Kingston. Unlike previous meetings, this one has a video recording with excellent sound quality. Watch it on YouTube or our local copy (mp4).
Kartusch repeated his claim that calling social workers "child protection workers" exempts them from registering with the OCSWSSW. Mr Kingston noted, in an observation corroborated by Fixcas, that many voluntary service agreements are signed under duress, and not really voluntary. Mr Kartusch asserted anyone not going to court to dispute the agreement is voluntary. Curtis asked why in a recent case CAS refused to comply with a court order for disclosure. Kartusch claimed lack of resources, but Curtis in his annotations says the real reason is that disclosure would show law-breaking by CAS.
Late in the meeting a woman told of a CAS worker who kicked open her door and entered her home while she was naked, insisting on interacting before she could get dressed.
Mr Kartusch repeatedly restricted himself to discussion of broad rules and policies. When specific cases came up in derogation of those policies, he declined to go into the matter. His oratory at times sounded more like a filibuster than a responsive answer.
Addendum: A week later Curtis Kingston reported on the meeting. Mr Kartusch said he personally apologized the to the victims of sexual abuse in Prince Edward, but Curtis knows the victims and Kartusch refused to meet with them.
CAS meetings, nothing more than propaganda to misinform the public.
In Prince Edward County since late March, the newly amalgamated Highland Shores Children's Aid Society has held a total of five public community meetings where the Executive Director of HSCAS, Mr. Mark Kartusch with the assistance of the Interim Director of Service, Brad Bain and the chair of the HSCAS board of directors, Darcey French show a PowerPoint presentation and then have question and answer sessions before the end of the meetings.
The PowerPoint presentation consisted of Mark Kartusch discussing the failings and mistakes made by the former Prince Edward County CAS that resulted in multiple stories of sexual abuse at the hands of county foster parents. Then he would explain what has been done to remedy the issues and explains the minimal oversight and accountability that Children’s Aid Societies in the province of Ontario do have. Then Brad Bain would take the podium and discuss the amalgamation between the HSCAS and the PECCAS and talk about service statistics.
Then the questions and answers took place and that is where things got interesting.
At the first meeting Mr. Kartusch had made his presentation in such a way that was purposely setup to imply that Children’s Aid Societies in the province of Ontario do in fact have Ombudsman oversight as the Ombudsman’s office does have the authority to investigate the Child and Family Services Review Board. As soon as the presentation was over, I was able to explain that this is in no way direct oversight of CAS’s as he was implying in his presentation.
This is because the CFSRB does not have any investigative authority whatsoever and also cannot take complaints from families where their cases have been involved in court. It is also worth mentioning that in well over 50% of cases, the CFSRB does in fact find that the Society was at fault but the CFSRB has no authority to compel a CAS to do anything after they make their findings and therefore recommendations by the CFSRB are often ignored. So yes the Ombudsman can investigate CFSRB decisions but this is in no way investigating a Children's Aid Society directly.
From that meeting on, Mr. Kartusch presented the Ombudsman oversight issue differently but this was only due to the fact that this misinformation was exposed at the first meeting.
Things only got more apparent from there that the HSCAS was not being truthful about what was really going on. This was not only because their presentation was filled with misinformation, but also due to the fact that Mr. Kartusch himself would often purposely dodge questions or answer with blatant lies and misinformation in an effort to continue to make the Society look good with complete disregard for the truth.
Over the five meetings that took place, as a result of questions asked by myself, members of the community and other justice advocates, we were able to get Mr. Kartusch to admit such things as,
The HSCAS has on more than one occasion, illegally apprehended children from their homes just hours after an apprehension warrant was denied by the courts.
The HSCAS will instruct unwitting foster parents to secretly intercept private conversations with children and their friends and families even though this is against the law.
The HSCAS just as every other CAS in the province, does in fact have the unfair advantage in the courtroom and will go against family court rules whenever they feel necessary.
Mr. Kartusch admitted that he himself does in fact practice Social Work from time to time along with most front line CAS workers even though they are unregistered with the Ontario College of Social Workers & Social Service Workers.
This is a direct violation of Section 46. (1) of the Social Work and Social Service Work Act that was put in place to regulate the Social Work profession in the same way as Teachers, Doctors, Lawyers, etc are regulated by colleges and other regulatory bodies.
Mr. Kartusch explained that he does not feel that they are in violation of the law because he feels that the term "Social Work" does not have anything to do with child welfare, but yet he also admitted at other times that he has been a "Social Worker" and that he still practices Social Work from time to time and most of the front line CAS workers practice Social Work. So he is in a sense stating that even though he and front line CAS workers practice Social Work, they do not have to be registered and accountable Social Workers because the term "Social Work" does not have anything to do with Child Welfare.
Then there where the blatant lies by Mr. Kartusch when asked questions such as whether or not a family would require a lawyer to obtain their file disclosure as it is already their right under the law.
Mr. Kartusch implied that this is not the case and a family would never require a lawyer for a file disclosure. This is simply untrue as there is a case in Belleville Ontario at the moment that Mr. Kartusch is fully aware of, where a family has had to fight in court for several months and spent thousands of dollars in legal fees to have the court order that the Society give the family file disclosure. In this case, the HSCAS has violated that court order and still has not provided the family with full disclosure. So far based on our information, this family is the only family that has received any of their file disclosure from the HSCAS. There is also the fact that there have been a large number of families recently who have requested their files but yet have not received a response and feel that their only way to obtain file disclosure will be through the courts.
Then when asked the number of families involved with the HSCAS that where involved voluntarily vs. involuntarily, Mr. Kartusch stated that most families where involved with the Society on a voluntary basis.
At the following meeting I had brought this up and asked him whether or not he gets this number based on the number of voluntary service agreements that are signed or the number of families that come to the Society asking for help, because most families do sign these agreements but only under duress and intimidation and threats by the Society.
Mark then admitted that I was right and those numbers are in fact based on those agreements, but then stated that "Just because they are working with us voluntarily doesn't mean happily" This just proved that Mr. Kartusch had lied by omission at the previous meeting and had given more misinformation by implying that most families are working with the Society voluntarily but left out the fact that most families that are involved are not happy about it and where forced to do so based on intimidation and threats.
Mr. Kartusch had also stated at a number of meetings that he himself has in fact met with and personally apologized to all of the victims of the recent sexual abuse cases in Bloomfield foster homes. He also stated that the Society has been working with these victims and giving them many supports and assistance as they require it.
This was simply a blatant lie by Mr. Kartusch as I myself had advocated for one of the victims and she had been denied the opportunity to meet with Mr. Kartusch on multiple occasions and has not been receiving the supports from the Society that Mr. Kartusch had implied. Furthermore she has felt threatened by the Society every time she tries to ask them for help. There are also other victims of these cases that give similar experiences with the Society.
There was also a question brought up to Darcey French, the chair of the HSCAS board of directors inquiring about his statement that he made at a press conference in December 2012 where he stated that “Mark signs off on a factual certificate that says all the procedures have been followed; that we’ve had no incidences, or if we’ve had an incidence here is what it was; here is how it was addressed; and here is how we will prevent this from happening again.”
The issue was that through freedom of information, Canada Court Watch was able to obtain every reference to factual certificates by the MCYS. The MCYS has stated that factual certificates from the HSCAS do not exist. Darcey's response was that the certificates are not actually sent to the MCYS but rather the board keeps them on file. His original statement in December 2012 had implied that they were sent to the ministry but yet this is just another example of where the HSCAS would imply something but not give the real information until confronted on the issue by someone that was educated enough on the issues to know the truth.
Being in attendance at these meetings gave people a sense of just how many issues are still surrounding Children's Aid Societies in the Province of Ontario and because of myself and other community members were able to expose the fact that these meetings where in fact nothing more than propaganda and misinformation to attempt to cover up the horrors that are still taking place behind the closed doors of your local Children's Aid Society.
Here are the links to the videos from the HSCAS public community meetings so that you can watch them and gauge for yourselves what these meetings where all about:
HSCAS Community Meeting March 20th 2013: http://youtu.be/gCtxGqsDzj8
HSCAS Community Meeting April 17th 2013: http://youtu.be/Orq0xL9N3SA
HSCAS Community Meeting April 23rd 2013: http://youtu.be/PoW7_KCclv4
HSCAS Community Meeting April 29th 2013: http://youtu.be/VAG0OC1Luhg
I encourage everyone to please look into the issues surrounding these private organizations and contact your local MPP's to express your support for their oversight and accountability, so that one day they can be held accountable for their unlawful and immoral actions when they operate against the best interest of children for their own financial and personal gains as they sadly do on a regular basis at this time.
Source: Examiner, Curtis Kingston
Hamilton CAS Cutback
May 1, 2013 permalink
Hamilton CAS will be laying off staff because of a second year of one million dollar budget cuts.
Layoffs coming to Hamilton CAS
The axe is about to fall at the Children's Aid Society of Hamilton.
Management is meeting with the staff of 375 today and tomorrow to outline layoffs after a severe reduction in funding from the Ontario government.
The C-A-S has lost about 2-million dollars in funding from the Ministry of Children and Youth Services.
CAS executive director Dominic Verticchio won't say how many people will be laid off until staff has been given the information.
The funding cut comes as a shock to Children's Aid.
Verticchio says there was a restructuring last year after a 1-million dollar cut to the budget and he was expecting a zero per cent budget increase this year, not a 2-million dollar cut.
The Children's Aid Society of Hamilton currently has 621 children in its care.
In two more news articles, CAS executive director Dominic Verticchio lashes out at the government. Based on complaints received by Fixcas, his Hamilton CAS is one of the most disliked by clients in all Ontario. In the kind of terminology that can only come out of the perverse world of bureaucratic management, he says cutbacks to his budget for separating children from families will harm children and further that funding cutbacks will increase foster care expenses. He even claims to speak for the children who are too young to vote. Has Mr Verticchio considered taking one of his own anger management classes?
In a CBC article, Monique Taylor, sponsor of bill 42 to provide ombudsman oversight of children's aid, reaches out sympathetically to the workers facing layoffs. The NDP has a conflict of interest in advocating both for parents harmed by CAS and the social workers drawing a paycheque from CAS. It shows that CAS reform efforts must go well beyond just voting NDP.
Hamilton Children's Aid Society reacts fast
The Children's Aid Society of Hamilton is also reacting to this budget.
Scot Urquhart joins us live with more. Nick, the reaction from the director of Hamilton's CAS has been swift, and sharp. Dominic Verticchio says he's had to lay off 20% of his staff, that's 70 full, and part-time positions, most of them, support workers. Verticchio says the cuts will impact roughly 1,500 to 2,000 Hamilton families. And it may force the CAS to place children in more expensive residential facilities, rather than leaving them in their homes.
Children's Aid Society of Hamilton cuts 70 jobs
Children's Aid Society of Hamilton announced on Thursday that it's cutting 70 jobs as a result of a reduction in funding from the province.
“It's been a very tough day for everyone but we must carry on," CAS executive director Dominic Verticchio told CBC Hamilton on Thursday.
The provincial budget cuts will mean a $4.7 million reduction to the Children's Aid Society of Hamilton's budget over the next four years.
"We're committed to providing child protection to this community, but it's going to be a very different servce than in the past."
The agency will not axe frontline workers, it said in a statement. Instead, the job cuts "will result in the loss of many support programs that prevented children from being admitted into the care of the agency."
Support programs for children in foster homes will also be affected.
"Unfortunately, the province decided that this is what their plan is. I'm not sure that they've given full consideration to what the impacts are going to be," Verticchio said.
"There are going to be more children in care and there will be more displaced families. That is not business as usual."
Council to complain to Queen's Park
The move to trim down funding for children's aid agencies has drawn the ire of city politicians. Councillors voted on Wednesday to complain to the province about the cuts.
Dr. Elizabeth Richardson, Hamilton's Medical Officer of Health, will bring a report to the general issues committee later this month regarding how the city can protest the cuts to the Children's Aid Society of Hamilton.
“The CAS is laying off as we speak,” said Coun. Brad Clark of Stoney Creek, who introduced the motion for the report, said on Wednesday. “It's having an impact on the city and I just don't think we can wait.”
The Hamilton society has an annual budget of about $50 million. Other societies, Verticchio said, are facing cuts as high as $5.7 million in one year.
The Hamilton Catholic Children's Aid Society is facing a two per cent reduction to its $26-million budget, said David Shea, its director of communications.
The society is still determining what that means in dollars, and if it will mean staff cuts.
“Our goal is to not (cut staff) if possible because we can't stop providing our service,” he said.
“There's caution in the air. We've been living very tight to our budget.”
Monique Taylor, MPP for Hamilton Mountain, said her office has been “inundated” with emails from employees.
"Staff already working overtime, struggling to meet the growing need in our community, are trying to understand how they're going to do more with less," Taylor said in the legislature this week.
"Workers have told me that these cuts will make their jobs impossible, that they are terrified of what this will mean for the already vulnerable children and families they serve."
A response to Verticchio.
Put an end to CAS whining
70 children’s aid staff lose their jobs; Director slams province for cuts (May 3)
I am puzzled after reading this article. Does Dominic Verticchio, executive director of the Children’s Aid Society of Hamilton, think we taxpayers are a bottomless pit when it comes to money? We are all cutting back to make ends meet. Why can’t he?
Government bureaucrats build empires with our money. Now with cutbacks across the board, Verticchio thinks he should be exempt.
Instead of coming up with new ways to cut back, he whines that services will be cut and staff laid off. Is he taking a pay cut? Is he going to still fund advertising on TV about CASs in Ontario? They don’t have any competition, so why advertise? When he expanded to new headquarters and expanded programs, did he think this funding was in perpetuity?
He stated he has been in the business for over 38 years. Maybe it’s time to let someone else take over. Maybe it’s also time to look at merging the two CASs in Hamilton to save funds and maintain current levels of programs and staffing to help the children who need it.
Shirley Lewis, Stoney Creek
Source: Hamilton Spectator