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British Columbia Lets Baby Die, Mother Sues

March 29, 2015 permalink

Baby Isabella Wiens died in British Columbia foster care on March 16, 2013. In common with other foster deaths, mother Sara-Jane Wiens reported bruises on her baby during visits, but social workers ignored her. For two years she has been unable to find out what really happened to her daughter. Now she has resorted to a lawsuit against the province.

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Isabella Wiens
Isabella Wiens, shown in a family handout photo, died in foster care, according to a lawsuit filed by her mother Sara-Jane Wiens against the B.C. Ministry of Children and Family Development.
Handout from Sara-Jane Wiens/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Mother sues B.C. after daughter died in foster care

When Sara-Jane Wiens learned her 21-month-old daughter had died in foster care, she ran out of her back door and “screamed bloody murder.”

“I couldn’t believe what I was hearing,” she recalled, her voice breaking. “My heart sank. My whole world came crashing down before my eyes that day.”

Two years later, Wiens said she’s still searching for answers. The 25-year-old has filed a lawsuit against the British Columbia government and the province’s director of child, family and community services alleging recklessness and bad faith.

The civil lawsuit states her two-month-old daughter, Isabella, was taken from her in August 2011 after she was deemed unfit to care for her. Wiens suffers from a learning disability that causes anxiety and depression.

In March 2013, the toddler was found dead in the crib at her foster home.

The lawsuit alleges that the government didn’t properly supervise Isabella while she was in foster care and failed to adequately consider returning the child to her mother.

“The system failed me, and I trusted the system with my flesh and blood,” Wiens said in an emotional phone interview from Ontario, where she now lives.

“If one thing can get changed to prevent this from happening to another person, then I know I was able to make that small change.”

Wiens said she noticed bruises on her daughter during supervised visits and told her social worker but nothing was done.

A coroner’s report could not determine the cause of death, but said there were several bruises on the body and indications of healing fractures on the girl’s left arm that couldn’t be explained.

Children and Family Development Minister Stephanie Cadieux said the ministry launches a review any time a child dies in care, but would not comment on the specific case.

“The oversight for our Ministry — and the children in our care — is extensive but entirely appropriate given the often vulnerable population we serve,” she said in a statement.

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, B.C.’s representative for children and youth, said the foster home has been shut down after a ministry investigation.

Turpel-Lafond said she would like to see the ministry and coroner’s service sit down with families and debrief after the death of a child.

“They’ve lost a precious child, their family is very devastated, they don’t feel like they’ve had answers. I’d like to see the answers that they’d like to see,” she said.

Wiens’s lawyer, Jack Hittrich, said his client had to fight for nearly eight months to see a copy of the coroner’s report.

The circumstances surrounding Isabella being taken into ministry custody are not yet clear. Hittrich said the B.C. ministry falsely alleged Wiens was fleeing a child protection order in Ontario, but in fact she left the province to escape an abusive ex-boyfriend.

“She is told that she cannot parent because she poses a risk to this young child,” he said. “The child is scooped from her. There’s no attempt made to work with her to reunite her with her child. They then completely abdicate their responsibility to monitor the foster home and attend to these injuries.”

Source: Globe and Mail

Psychotropic Drugs Kill 150 People

March 29, 2015 permalink

On March 24 Germanwings Flight 9525 crashed near the village of Barcelonnette France, killing all 150 people on board. Once the voice recorder was recovered, investigators found that co-pilot Andreas Lubitz locked the captain out of the cockpit during a washroom break, then took the plane into a ten minute descent into the French Alps.

The world's most authoritative news sources are corroborating what the fringe press has been saying for days. Andreas Lubitz had antidepressant drugs in his apartment. So either he was on psychotropic drugs at the time of his suicide, or even worse, had withdrawn from drugs. During withdrawal, the patient experiences the opposite of the intended effect of the drug. That would have made Lubitz more depressed, and more suicidal, than before starting his treatment.

For two decades there have been regular mass shootings by deranged killers. The common element in most is the use of psychotropic drugs by the shooter. In previous incidents the psychotropic drug connection has been downplayed. The excuse of patient confidentiality has kept the details of drug use out of the press. But how can the airline industry avoid exposing the full details this time? Anything less would risk repeated murder/suicides of hundreds of passengers at a time.

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Germanwings Crash Raises Questions About Shifting Ideas of Pilot Fitness

Aviation agencies in Europe and the United States once banned all pilots from flying if they disclosed a mental illness to their employers.

But in recent years, bowing to advances in scientific understanding and a growing public awareness that common mental disorders like depression are treatable, regulators loosened those restrictions, allowing the use of certain antidepressants for a small number of pilots and permitting some pilots whose illnesses were mild to stay on the job. In doing so, agency officials said, they hoped to encourage pilots who were experiencing problems to come forward and seek treatment.

Now the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 on Tuesday has raised questions about how well those policies work and whether airlines and regulators are doing enough to detect pilots who are too mentally ill to fly.

The authorities have said that Andreas Lubitz, the co-pilot who is believed to have intentionally crashed the German aircraft, killing himself and the other 149 people aboard, had a mental illness and hid the diagnosis from his employer. The exact nature of his disorder remains unknown, but Mr. Lubitz apparently sought treatment for vision problems that may have jeopardized his ability to work as a pilot. Still uncertain is whether there is a link between Mr. Lubitz’s vision problems and his psychological issues. On Saturday, an official said that the police had found antidepressants during a search of his apartment in Düsseldorf.

Here’s what we know (and what we don’t) about Andreas Lubitz, the pilot believed to have crashed a Germanwings plane in the French Alps, according to investigators:

What We Know

  • The French prosecutor in charge of the case has said that Mr. Lubitz, the co-pilot, was alone at the controls of the Airbus A320 in the ten minutes before the crash. Mr. Lubitz did not respond to pleas from the captain to be readmitted to the cockpit and set the plane on a descent course that took it into the mountains, the prosecutor said.
  • Mr. Lubitz had been receiving treatment for a psychological or psychiatric condition that he did not disclose to his employer.
  • He had also sought treatment for a vision problem.
  • He had doctors’ notes in his apartment in Düsseldorf excusing him from work, including one good for Tuesday, the day of the crash.
  • His pilot’s license included a designation indicating that he had a medical condition.
  • Antidepressants were found in his apartment.

What We Don’t Know

  • When his psychological problems began, their severity and precise nature, or when he began treatment.
  • The severity of his eye problems, when they first occurred or whether they could have been psychosomatic and related to his psychological problems.
  • What antidepressants he might have been prescribed, at what dose and whether he was taking them.
  • Whether any family members, friends or colleagues were aware of his problems and raised any flags with the airline about his suitability to fly.
  • Whether an interruption in his pilot training was related to any psychological or medical problems.

Since the crash, European airlines have scrambled to require that two people be present in the cockpit at all times, a rule already in place in the United States. But many experts said the focus should now be on improving the process of hiring and screening pilots to better guard against someone like Mr. Lubitz getting into the cockpit in the first place.

The programs currently used by airlines and regulators on either side of the Atlantic, aviation experts and psychiatrists said, leave much to be desired. Screening exams are given on a yearly basis and often merely nod to mental health issues, including only a few questions about depression or other illnesses. The exams are often conducted by general practitioners with no psychiatric expertise.

In addition, most programs are based on an honor system, relying on pilots to volunteer information about problems they might have. And to do that, several psychiatrists said, they must overcome the stigma that still clings to mental illness, one that remains strong in commercial aviation, a profession with deep roots in the military that values a cool head and steady hand under pressure.

The screening process for pilots “really falls short for people who are involved in the public’s safety,” said J. Reid Meloy, a forensic psychologist who consults on threat assessments for corporations and universities.

The practice of screening only once a year is a particular problem, he said, because any number of life events — the breakup of a relationship, the death of a loved one or other setbacks — can affect mental functioning. Rather than coming out of nowhere, suicide often represents a convergence of troubled strands. Investigators who delve into a suicide victim’s background — interviewing relatives, co-workers and friends in what is called a psychological autopsy — almost always find a troubled history and often uncover hints about suicidal intentions that were overlooked or ignored by others.

A study of eight deliberate airplane crashes from 2003 to 2012, for example, found that five of the general-aviation pilots had intimated their plans to others beforehand.

But while suicide is rare, depression is one of the most common mental disorders: Government surveys suggest that one in 20 American adults have an episode of major depression each year and one in 10 take antidepressant medications.

And identifying a person whose condition poses a threat to public safety is not always easy, said Dr. Andrew Brown, president of the Academy of Organizational and Occupational Psychiatry.

“You have to get a sense of who this person really is, of what their coping mechanism is, of what their defenses are, in terms of how they characteristically deal with adversity,” Dr. Brown said. “It goes without saying that you have to ask them specifically if they have ever had thoughts of suicide.”

Screening systems in Europe closely mirror those imposed by regulators and airlines in the United States, aviation experts said, and in most cases, the tests that would-be pilots must pass to be licensed are focused far more on physical than mental health.

Crashes caused intentionally by pilots are very rare but not unheard of.

Dr. Warren Silberman, a former manager of aerospace medical certification for the Federal Aviation Administration, said that in the United States, pilots applying for a license must fill out an online medical questionnaire. Only three questions on the form deal with mental health, he said.

“There is no specific psychological testing,” he said.

Before they are licensed, pilots must undergo a medical exam, conducted by a doctor trained and certified by the aviation agency. Some airlines impose additional screening procedures, but they vary from company to company. Active pilots are required to have a medical screening once a year until they turn 40 and then twice a year after. Only when pilots are found to have mental health problems are they sent to a psychiatrist or psychologist for evaluation or treatment.

But the system, Dr. Silberman and others said, leaves pilots on an honor system, albeit one reinforced by penalties to discourage them from concealing any health issues that could affect their fitness to fly, including mental illness. Pilots who falsify information or lie about their health face fines that can reach $250,000, according to the F.A.A.

But Peter Goelz, a former managing director of the National Transportation Safety Board, said the system left a lot of wiggle room for pilots. For example, pilots are allowed to choose doctors, and can pick someone who might be less likely to report any difficulties.

“They know which guys are more cordial to their concerns and which are not,” Mr. Goelz said. “My guess is that the industry and the F.A.A. will look at this closely.”

Martin Riecken, a spokesman for Lufthansa, the parent company of Germanwings, said that airline’s screening procedures were similar to those in Europe and the United States.

Pilots are rigorously screened for physical problems before they are hired and fill out a questionnaire intended to vet their psychological fitness. Examination by a psychologist or psychiatrist is not a routine part of screening, he said.

As in the United States, pilots are required to report to the company any medical or psychiatric condition that might make them unfit to fly, Mr. Riecken said. But he added that in Germany, a private doctor who is consulted by a pilot is under no legal obligation to inform the airline about the pilot’s physical or mental state.

Seeking help from outside doctors is a common practice among pilots in Europe, said Dr. Alpo Vuorio, a researcher at the Mehiläinen Airport Health Center in Finland who has studied depression in pilots and pilot suicides. And few pilots inform the airlines that they have done so.

Without a strict reporting system, accountability suffers, he said. “People start to find services all around the country and even from different countries, and then it’s lost,” he said.

In Mr. Lubitz’s case, the Düsseldorf University Hospital said in a statement that he had been seen at their clinic in February and a final time on March 10 for what it called a “diagnostic evaluation.” The hospital refused to give further details, citing Germany’s privacy laws for medical records, including those of the dead, but denied reports that the co-pilot had been treated for depression. Prosecutors said that several doctors’ notes stating that Mr. Lubitz was too ill to work, including on the day of the crash, were found at his home; one of the notes had been torn up.

Because pilots and flight crews spend so much time working together in close quarters, airlines often rely on employees to monitor their colleagues’ behavior and raise concerns when a pilot appears unfit for flying.

“It’s very hard for mental illness to hide under those circumstances,” said Dr. William Hurt Sledge, a professor of psychiatry at Yale who has served as a consultant to the F.A.A., as well as to the Air Line Pilots Association and a number of carriers.

Yet Dr. Sledge conceded that the screening tools available were inadequate to the task of detecting a pilot determined to hide any signs of distress. Mr. Lubitz was heard on the flight recorder chatting amiably with the captain before locking him out of the cockpit.

And given the stigma attached to depression, many pilots who have the illness do hide their symptoms, a fact that led the F.A.A. in 2010 to revise its policies, allowing pilots to take antidepressant drugs in some circumstances and continue flying.

“We know more today about the science of the medications being given and we know a lot more about depression itself,” said Randy Babbitt, the F.A.A. administrator at the time, in announcing the new policy. The European aviation agency followed suit a few years later.

Dr. Silberman, the former F.A.A. medical manager, said that the agency’s thinking evolved over years and that many within the agency were reluctant to change its policies, worried about the side effects of the drugs.

“This was an effort to let guys know that once you start getting better and you are treated, you can fly again,” he said. But he added that the agency was careful in its decisions about who could keep flying and that pilots taking the medications must follow a treatment plan and be closely monitored.

Dr. Ryan Shugarman, a psychiatrist in Alexandria, Va., who performs mental health evaluations of pilots and air controllers for airlines and the F.A.A., said he had seen one case in which an applicant to be a pilot had suicidal thoughts, but never one where a pilot threatened to bring down a plane.

“My experience is that there’s a lot of support among the aviation community for getting treatment,” he said, adding that he supported the F.A.A.’s change in policy because before it was made, pilots were going to outside doctors for mental health treatment and concealing it from their employers.

Whether the crash of Flight 9525 will prompt calls for the agency to revert to its earlier conservatism remains to be seen.

“I hope not,” said Dr. Vuorio, the Finnish researcher. “This is a good practice, in good hands.”

Correction: March 29, 2015

An earlier version of this article described incorrectly a patient whom Dr. Ryan Shugarman, a psychiatrist in Alexandria, Va., had evaluated. The patient was an applicant to be a pilot, not a pilot.

Source: New York Times

Grand Theft Bambino

March 29, 2015 permalink

British parents could be reported to police and social services for allowing their children to play video games such as Call Of Duty and Grand Theft Auto. With this move, the social services watch over children will approach 100 percent.

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Parents who let kids play Call of Duty could be reported to police

The adult video games could increase 'early sexualised behaviours', primary school headteachers in Nantwich warn

Primary school headteachers have warned parents who allow their children to play video games such as Call Of Duty and Grand Theft Auto will be reported to police and social services for neglect.

The Nantwich Education Partnership, made up of 15 primary schools and one secondary academy, issued a letter after children reported playing or watching the adult-themed games.

The heads said the video games could increase "early sexualised behaviours" and the advice was in line with local authority policy and concerns.

The letter, sent last month, said: "Several children have reported playing or watching adults play games which are inappropriate for their age and they have described the levels of violence and sexual content they have witnessed: Call Of Duty, Grand Theft Auto, Dogs Of War and other similar games are all inappropriate for children and they should not have access to them.

"If your child is allowed to have inappropriate access to any game or associated product that is designated 18-plus we are advised to contact the police and children's social care as it is neglectful.

Parents were also warned about allowing their youngsters to have accounts on social media sites such as Facebook and WhatsApp because it could make them vulnerable to sexual grooming.

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City
A screenshot from Grand Theft Auto: Vice City

The letter went on: "Access to these games or to some social media sites such as those above increases early sexualised behaviours (sometimes harmful) in children and leaves them vulnerable to grooming for sexual exploitation or extreme violence."

Source: Telegraph (UK)

Social Worker Prosecuted.

March 28, 2015 permalink

Florida social worker Shani Smith falsely reported that she had referred mother Catalina Bruno for a substance abuse and mental health evaluation. The mother later let her baby boy Bryan bake to death in a car. That was one of several incidents that led to the resignation of DCF Secretary David Wilkins in 2013. Now Smith is being prosecuted. In cases of failure to intervene in a family, the social worker becomes the scapegoat. When a child dies from unnecessary intervention, the foster parent becomes the scapegoat.

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Former Miami DCF investigator arrested for falsifying records

Child welfare investigator Shani Smith broke the law when she concocted reports about a Kendall woman who later left her baby son to die in a sweltering car, authorities said.

The allegations against the former Florida Department of Children and Families employee first surfaced in 2013. On Wednesday, she surrendered to face six felony counts of official misconduct.

The investigation of Smith had been yet another black eye on the state child welfare agency. The boy’s death was one of several in the fall of 2013 that eventually led to the resignation of then-DCF Secretary David Wilkins.

At the time of her resignation, it was revealed, Smith had been working without the proper state credentials. In interviews with the press, Smith had always maintained she did nothing wrong.

Her attorney, David Kubiliun, said Wednesday that she will fight the allegations.

“I feel she’s being made a scapegoat for the department,” Kubiliun said. “They’re trying to use her as a fall guy.”

The alleged misconduct was uncovered by DCF’s Inspector General, and forwarded to prosecutors and FDLE.

“This former employee violated the public trust and did not uphold the standards we expect for those entrusted with the duty of protecting children in our community,” DCF said in a statement Tuesday.

Smith is not the first Florida child welfare employee to come under scrutiny for bogus reports in recent years.

Last year, police in Seminole County arrested Jonathan Irizarry, a case worker with the Children’s Home Society of Florida, for falsely claiming in reports that he had visited and examined a healthy child. The child had been tortured and beaten to death.

In Broward County, foster care caseworker Jabeth Moye reported that a 12-year-old named Tamiyah Audain was doing fine. Actually wasting away of starvation and neglect, the girl died in September 2013.

Last year, Moye was charged with child neglect. Moye worked for a foster care agency under the umbrella of Broward’s privately run child welfare agency, ChildNet, which has a contract with DCF.

Most infamously, Miami DCF case worker Deborah Muskelly was found to have lied in reports over a decade ago, saying she was visiting foster child Rilya Wilson. The child went missing for 15 months — presumed murdered by her caretaker, who is now in prison.

Muskelly resigned from DCF and was criminally charged with official misconduct and grand theft for falsifying her time sheets in an unrelated case. She got five years’ probation.

In Smith’s case, the chain of events began in November 2012, when a Kendall woman named Catalina Bruno was found passed out drunk behind the wheel of her car, its transmission still in drive. Her infant son, Bryan, was sprawled beside her in the front seat.

Bruno was charged with driving under the influence and child neglect.

Afterward, DCF assigned Smith to assess Bruno’s fitness to continue caring for her children.

In case notes filed in an internal DCF computer system more than a month after Bruno’s arrest, Smith wrote that she earlier had referred the mother for a substance abuse and mental health evaluation.

She immediately noted that an evaluation center, Spectrum, found that Bruno “showed no evidence of substance misuse or mental injury,” according to a FDLE arrest warrant.

The case was closed. But the Spectrum center had no records of any requests for an evaluation for Bruno. Smith’s own e-mails showed no such evaluation. And Bruno herself told FDLE Agent Kristen Hoffacker that she never met with Smith after her November 2012 DUI arrest.

Bruno was still in jail when Smith dropped by her house and left a business card. When Bruno was released from jail, she “called Smith several times and left messages” but never got a call back.

Six months later, Bruno drank again — with deadly consequences. She drove to her Kendall home and left the toddler behind in the car, along with her purse and a can of beer. He spent hours inside the car and was later declared dead at the hospital — his body temperature measured at 109 degrees.

The boy’s death shattered his father, Amos Glen Osceola.

Two days before the anniversary of the son’s death, Osceola killed himself by plunging his car into a canal.

Last year, Bruno pleaded guilty to manslaughter and child neglect after she spent more than one year in jail. She was ordered into rehabilitation.

Bruno’s attorney, at the time, blasted the agency for failing to get Bruno help for alcohol abuse.

“If DCF had done their job, they would have taken Bryan away, most likely given him to his grandmother, his mother would have gone to treatment, and Bryan would be alive today,” attorney Lonnie Richardson said then. “His father would also be alive today, and Catalina would be celebrating a year of sobriety.”

Source: Miami Herald

Foster Voyeur

March 28, 2015 permalink

An unnamed Manitoba foster parent outfitted his home, and several others, with cameras to record members of his family and visitors undressed. From another news report, all but one of the targets were female.

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Bathroom spy cams put in foster home, friend's cottage

A Manitoba man who used mini-spy cameras to record friends, co-workers and children as they used the washroom should go to prison for eight years, a judge was told Thursday.

The 44-year-old accused, a long-time foster father prior to his arrest, pleaded guilty to nine counts of voyeurism and one count each of making and possessing child pornography.

The offences were committed between 2010 and 2012 at a Winnipeg foster home, a second Winnipeg home, his Gimli home and a friend's cottage in Ontario.

"He's offending at every location he is where he has access to bathrooms," Crown attorney Debbie Buors told Judge Brent Stewart.

Victims included a foster son, his own daughter and 10 other children.

Police arrested the man in November 2012 after his teenage foster son found a pen camera hidden in a shaving kit in the bathroom. Police later seized a wealth of computer equipment and spy cameras from the Winnipeg and Gimli homes yielding hundreds of bathroom videos.

"If police did not catch me I would still be doing it," the man told a probation officer in a pre-sentence report prepared for court. "I knew it was wrong ... I don't know where my conscience was."

Police interviewed the man's wife, who said he always "made it clear" no one was to ever move his shaving kit. She called the man "a great actor and a master manipulator."

Defence lawyer Todd Bourcier recommended the man be sentenced to just 18 months in jail.

The accused will return to court for sentencing in late April.

Source: Winnipeg Sun

Snitch Sued

March 28, 2015 permalink

When North York daycare operator Tammy Larabie suspected child abuse in one of her clients she alerted children's aid. CAS found no abuse and cleared the parents, Christopher Cui and Iris Lee. They have successfully sued Larabie, getting an award of $13,000 for their troubles. Several child advocates (CAS supporters) quoted by the Toronto Star are outraged, fearing that the award could scare off other reports in the future. If the courts hold fast on this award, it offers some hope of protection for families against frivolous accusation.

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Daycare operator sued for calling the CAS

Toronto judge orders Tammy Larabie to pay $13,000 to parents of a child she worried wasn’t properly cared for.

Tammy Larabie
Home daycare operator Tammy Larabie called the CAS because she was concerned about one of the children in her care. After they were cleared by the CAS, they sued Larabie for emotional suffering.
Tracy Augot

A North York home daycare operator who called the Children’s Aid Society because she was concerned about a baby in her care has been ordered to pay the child’s parents more than $13,000 for the “emotional pain and suffering” that her report caused.

It’s a ruling which children’s advocates say ignores child care providers’ duty to report suspected child abuse or neglect to the CAS, and it could dissuade them from doing so for fear of a lawsuit.

“It’s hard enough to get people to report (to the CAS) and this will have a silencing effect,” said Mary Birdsell, executive director of Justice for Children and Youth. “The legislation is supposed to protect people from being sued if their report was reasonable.”

In a decision delivered last month, Superior Court judge Lewis Richardson ruled Tammy Larabie’s call to the CAS was “unreasonable” and there “was nothing to suggest that (the baby) was in any danger.”

In a court transcript obtained by the Star, Richardson found the parents “to be competent, caring and capable” who “properly looked after the interests of their son.”

“There was no basis whatsoever to report them to the Children’s Aid,” he said. “(Larabie) acted selfishly and to protect her own interest, not for the benefit of the child.”

Larabie’s lawyer disagreed and is considering an appeal.

“Her heart is very much in the right place,” said Ari Goldkind. “She doesn’t want anybody who has a concern about a child to hesitate for one second to pick up the phone (and call the CAS) because they’re worried they’ll get sued.”

“This is the very reason we have CAS,” he said. “These are the people trained, tasked and experienced in making sure a child is fine. Do we want to leave these decisions up to regular people?”

Christopher Cui and Iris Lee put their 10-month-old baby in a Larabie’s unlicensed home daycare in March 2013.

Larabie became concerned about the baby’s health because she felt he slept too much, wasn’t meeting developmental benchmarks and had lost weight, according to the transcript. She also felt the special diet of rice, fruit, vegetables and meat that Cui and Lee provided for their baby wasn’t nutritious enough.

But Richardson found these concerns were not shared by the child’s pediatrician.

“(Larabie) went on Google and formed her own medical opinion, which has not been substantiated and makes no sense,” he said.

Larabie called the CAS in July 2013, shortly after the high-profile death of 2-year-old Eva Ravikovich in a filthy and overcrowded unlicensed home daycare in Vaughan. In his ruling, Richardson felt that death had influenced Larabie, who “panicked and overreacted” owing to “the current public pressure on unlicensed daycares.”

The CAS launched an investigation and found her complaint unfounded.

“Larabie did not contact my clients with her concerns,” said Richard Brown, the lawyer for Cui and Lee. “She started a campaign to make them feel insecure and then went further and reported them to the CAS.”

Less than a week after the complaint, Cui and Lee found out it was Larabie who made the call and pulled their child out of daycare, Brown said.

Citing the contract they had signed, Larabie asked for two weeks of payment ($380) because they had withdrawn their child without any notice. When they refused to pay, she took them to small claims court.

Cui and Lee then countersued for the suffering they said Larabie’s call to the CAS had caused them, including a depression that had to be medicated during Lee’s second pregnancy.

“My clients did not do this for financial gain. It was a question of deterrence,” said Brown.

In dismissing Larabie’s claim (which grew to $735 with late fees, interest and penalties), and ordering her to pay damages to Cui and Lee, Richardson said the “unfounded complaint to the Children’s Aid Society created emotional distress.”

Even though the parents were cleared of any wrongdoing, “these complaints and investigations remain on record permanently,” the judge said.

Richardson ordered Larabie to pay the child’s parents $10,000 in damages and $3,175 in legal costs.

Larabie’s sister told the Star that stress caused by the ruling has forced her to shut down her daycare.

“She’s got laryngitis now and all she wanted to do was help,” said Tracy Augot, who started an online crowdfunding campaign to help her sister pay the damages.

Minister of Children and Youth Services Tracy MacCharles deferred to the judge’s ruling.

“This was a civil proceeding where the judge found there to be no reasonable grounds for the complaint. The judge heard both sides of the story and ruled in favour of the parents,” she said in a statement, adding “this case should not dissuade anyone from fulfilling their duty and reporting the abuse or mistreatment of any child.”

MacCharles’ spokesperson, Aly Vitunski, later added: “The law is clear. Every person, including an operator or employee of a child care nursery, who has reasonable grounds to suspect that a child is in need of protection, must report that suspicion promptly to a children’s aid society. It is not necessary for people to be certain a child is or may be in need of protection to make a report to a CAS.”

Asked about the case, Premier Kathleen Wynne said Wednesday that her office would look at the judgment.

“We want to make sure that the laws that are in place are the right balance to ensure that people report when they see that there’s abuse, and that they feel free to report, but that they understand what it is that they are looking at,” she told Global News.

Ontario Child Advocate Irwin Elman worries the decision will have a chilling effect on reports to the CAS.

“I wouldn’t want anyone to second guess their own judgment,” he said. “We all have a duty to report, not only professionals, but anyone in the province.”

Caroline Newton, communications director for the Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies, emphasized that public reporting is the backbone of the child welfare system.

“We can’t be everywhere. We totally rely on the public — especially professionals who work with children — to alert us to problems,” she said.

“The safety and well-being of children is paramount,” said Newton, who advised people with concerns to “make the call. You don’t have to be certain.”

Source: Toronto Star

Dennis the Menace / snitch

Child Abuse is not Hereditary

March 28, 2015 permalink

When social workers fill out their forms to determine whether to take your children, one of the questions is: "Was the parent abused as a child?" A yes is several points toward child removal.

Now a serious scientific study casts doubt on the notion that parents who experienced physical abuse as children pass that abuse on to their own children. Many previous studies in this area were biased because they relied on data collected by child protection agencies. The bias arose because CPS pays more attention to families headed by parents abused as children.

The report itself is behind a paywall. Enclosed is the abstract from Science, the editor's summary and a technical review from Ars Technica.

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Report

Intergenerational transmission of child abuse and neglect: Real or detection bias?

Abstract

The literature has been contradictory regarding whether parents who were abused as children have a greater tendency to abuse their own children. A prospective 30-year follow-up study interviewed individuals with documented histories of childhood abuse and neglect and matched comparisons and a subset of their children. The study assessed maltreatment based on child protective service (CPS) agency records and reports by parents, nonparents, and offspring. The extent of the intergenerational transmission of abuse and neglect depended in large part on the source of the information used. Individuals with histories of childhood abuse and neglect have higher rates of being reported to CPS for child maltreatment but do not self-report more physical and sexual abuse than matched comparisons. Offspring of parents with histories of childhood abuse and neglect are more likely to report sexual abuse and neglect and that CPS was concerned about them at some point in their lives. The strongest evidence for the intergenerational transmission of maltreatment indicates that offspring are at risk for childhood neglect and sexual abuse, but detection or surveillance bias may account for the greater likelihood of CPS reports.

Editor's Summary

Abuse from generation to generation?

Parents who were abused as children are thought more likely to abuse their own children. Widom et al. compared reports from parents, from children, and from child protective service agency records gathered on the same families and on matched controls. They observed different findings depending on which information they used. Increases in sexual abuse and neglect relative to controls were reported by children of abuse victims. However, much of the believed transmission of abuse and neglect between generations could be ascribed to surveillance or detection bias targeted at parents with childhood histories of abuse or neglect.

Source: American Association for the Advancement of Science


Childhood abuse victims don’t always grow up to be abusers

Families with abuse histories might be more scrutinized by social services.

It’s a widely held belief that people who were abused as children are more likely to grow up to abuse their own children, but a new study in Science suggests a more complex picture. Different kinds of abuse and neglect have different patterns of intergenerational transmission, and there’s reason to think that certain families are scrutinized more than others, leading to biased reporting.

The widespread belief in intergenerational transmission is not completely unfounded. A number of studies have found evidence that abuse victims are more likely to abuse, but the overall picture is mixed: many other studies have found no such link. Understanding what causes child abuse is obviously vital to finding solutions, so it’s an essential question for researchers to resolve.

Part of the problem is that this is an incredibly difficult subject to study. Asking people to self-report their experience of abuse as children, or their tendency to abuse as adults, will obviously produce answers rife with inaccuracies. On the other hand, not all instances of abuse are reported officially and not all reported abuses have sufficient evidence to result in criminal charges.

A team of researchers at John Jay College of Criminal Justice constructed a new study design that tried to work around some of the main problems with obtaining data on child abuse. Previous research had used cross-sectional research, finding abusive parents and interviewing them about their childhood experiences. This means that people who were abused as children but who didn’t grow up to be abusers aren’t accounted for in the research. Past studies have also focused on physical abuse, ignoring sexual abuse and neglect.

To get around this problem, the John Jay researchers opted for a longitudinal study, identifying children who, based on official records, were known to have been abused or neglected between 1967 and 1971. They also identified a comparison group of children with no documented abuse or neglect cases, but who were from the same region and matched for age, sex, race, and social class.

Of course, there’s no guarantee that the children in the control group hadn’t also been abused or neglected without official reporting, but the controls do help to ensure that other social factors aren’t affecting the results.

The researchers first interviewed the study participants between 1989 and 1995 when they were around 29 years old. At this stage, there were 1,196 participants all together, although a number left the study before its conclusion. Analyses of those who dropped out indicate that there’s no reason to think that there were differences in abuse rates between those who stayed and those who left.

Follow-up interviews were conducted in 2009 and 2010, when participants were around 47 years old. The children of the participants—now young adults, 22 years old on average—were also interviewed at the same time. Finally, results were compared with reports from Child Protective Services (CPS).

They found that adults who had records of abuse or neglect as children were twice as likely to have been reported to CPS because of child maltreatment. Overall, approximately 21.4 percent of these adults had been reported, compared to 11.7 percent of those in the comparison group. Rates of reporting for sexual abuse and neglect were significantly higher, but reports of physical abuse were similar. This is a really important finding, because previous research and common assumptions have focused on physical abuse.

The second part of the study focused on self-reports. Parents in the abused group were no more likely to self-report behaviors that are considered abusive than control parents, but they were more likely to admit neglectful behaviors. But, write the authors, there’s reason to be skeptical of abusive parents’ willingness to report on their own behavior, so these reports might fall short of the truth.

The reports from the participants’ children portrayed a different picture. The children of parents who were abused were more likely to report sexual abuse and neglect than the children of parents with no abuse history, but no more likely to report physical abuse. This result matches with the data from CPS reports.

Finally, the researchers compared the self-reports of abuse with the rates of reporting to CPS, and they found something unexpected: CPS knew about more of the abuse and neglect cases in the abused group than they did in the control group. In fact, they knew about approximately 30 percent of the self-reported cases in the abused group and only 15 percent of cases in the control group.

The implication, the researchers suggest, is a surveillance bias toward families already involved with CPS. If CPS knows that there’s a history of abuse in a family, they watch them more closely and are more likely to know about ongoing abuse cases. This means that detection of intergenerational transmission of abuse based only on CPS records could be substantially skewed.

The researchers emphasize that there are weaknesses in this study despite its stronger design, and there’s a lot more work to be done. Apart from the obvious difficulties in obtaining complete and accurate reports of abuse, the families in this study were predominantly poverty-stricken, which means there’s an obvious confound with socioeconomic status. The results might not generalize to all socioeconomic groups.

What the results do suggest, though, is that CPS might be missing cases of abuse by focusing too much on families with a known abuse history. That’s an important avenue for future research to explore.

Source: Ars Technica

Rosie O’Donnell Stole My Baby

March 28, 2015 permalink

Celebrity Rosie O’Donnell started mothering in 1995 when she adopted a boy. Later she adopted Chelsea Belle O'Donnell, born in 1997, shared with her then same-sex partner Kelli Carpenter. For two decades she has given advice to parents, citing her own experiences as a mother. Her family life includes five children (none that she gave birth to), two same-sex divorces and one child repossessed because Florida did not allow same-sex foster parents.

Now Deanna Micoley, the real mother of Chelsea, has come forward. She says she was drugged by her ex, then compelled to sign a document relinquishing her baby that she called Kayla. Direct quote: "Rosie O’Donnell stole my baby." In direct communication with her real mother, Chelsea revealed that she despises bombastic Rosie.

In defense publicist Cindi Berger says Rosie “legally adopted” Chelsea from the non-profit Children of the World in New Jersey. In the days when celebrities were criticized for wearing fur coats, some defended themselves with: "I did not kill the animal, it was already dead when I bought it." Sorry, the purchase price paid for the killing of the animal. And Rosie's adoption fees paid for the forced separation of baby Kayla/Chelsea from her mother.

Here is an image of Deanna's letter to Rosie. Fixcas could not download the video of the interview, but Inside edition copied much of it to YouTube and local copy (mp4).

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WORLD EXCLUSIVE! ‘ROSIE O'DONNELL STOLE MY BABY!’ ADOPTION SCANDAL

Deanna Micoley and Chelsea O’Donnell

Fresh from the scandals of her controversial exit from television’s “The View” and the sudden demise of her second same-sex marriage, Rosie O’Donnell has been plunged into an adoption scandal, The National ENQUIRER can reveal.

The biological mother of Rosie’s 17-year-old adopted daughter, Chelsea, has unmasked herself to the world to sensationally claim she was drugged up by her then-husband on heroin and forced to give up their child!

“I believe Rosie O’Donnell knew that I was in no condition to sign away my parental rights to my daughter!” Deanna Micoley, 37, told The ENQUIRER in a blockbuster exclusive interview.

“She did the worst thing one woman can do to another woman – take her child!”

Deanna was unhappily married and just 20 years old when, in Aug. 1997, she gave birth to a baby girl who she named Kayla. Two months later, her now ex-husband – whose name is being withheld by The ENQUIRER – forced her to give up their child to an adoption agency, it’s alleged.

“I may not have been the best mother back then. I did drugs and I have a criminal record because of it,” Deanna admitted.

“But I surely didn’t deserve to have my baby stolen from me!”

Deanna said she never knew 53-year-old Rosie had adopted her daughter until last November when Kayla – now known as Chelsea – contacted her father.

The married stay-at-home mom of four, who lives in Wisconsin, told The ENQUIRER: “Rosie O’Donnell stole my baby, but I don’t want her money. I just want my daughter back!

“Chelsea told him that she was his granddaughter. He called me and broke the news. It was the moment I’d been waiting and praying for the last 17 years – I’d found my precious daughter!”

Since then, Deanna and Chelsea have communicated through Facebook and text messages, during which her daughter revealed to her birth mom that she despises bombastic Rosie!

“Chelsea has told me that she had issues with Rosie,” Deanna said.

“I believe Rosie has abandoned her. Since about the age of 12, Rosie’s basically shipped Chelsea off to different boarding schools.”

When Chelsea quizzed Deanna as to why she’d been placed for adoption, Deanna said: “I told her the truth – that her daddy wasn’t a good person and she was basically given up to an adoption agency.”

According to Deanna, Rosie has also tried to turn her own child against her – something she claimed is supported via a series of explosive text messages.

In one text missive, obtained by The ENQUIRER, Rosie wrote to Deanna: “One thing I want to share – Chelsea has often been overlooked in some ways because my fame makes me seem superhuman.”

Said Deanna: “Rosie wants to paint me as a horrible person and says adopting Chelsea saved her from a life of misery.

“Rosie even hired someone to dig up my criminal record and gave it to Chelsea.

“But bless her heart, Chelsea told me the past was the past, and she loves me!”

Rosie is an outspoken advocate of adoption, and adopted son Parker in 1995 as a single mom. She adopted Chelsea in Nov. 1997, and then, with partner Kelli Carpenter, adopted son Blake in Dec. 1999.

Kelli gave birth to their daughter, Vivienne, through artificial insemination in Nov. 2002. The couple wed in California in 2004, and split in 2007.

Rosie adopted her fifth child, 2-year-old daughter Dakota, in 2013 with her second wife, Michelle Rounds.

But the pair split after little more than two years of marriage, with the end coinciding with the opinionated star’s decision to quit “The View” – just four months after rejoining the cast.

ROSIE’s RESPONSE:

Rosie O’Donnell’s publicist attacked Deanna Micoley for speaking out publicly about her biological daughter, and insisted Rosie’s adoption of the 17-year-old was totally above board.

According to Cindi Berger, Rosie “legally adopted” Chelsea from the non-profit Children of the World in New Jersey.

“The agency never would have accepted the baby if the birth mother was under the influence,” Berger told The National ENQUIRER.

“There are notarized adoption papers signed by the birth mother and father that were accepted by both the adoption agency and the Court.”

Rosie is “unbearably proud” of Chelsea, Berger added, and “has encouraged and supported Chelsea’s desire to communicate with her birth mother. How disappointing that Chelsea’s birth mother would go public with this personal story without ever having met Rosie.”

Source: National Enquirer

Social Worker Sex with Teen Wards

March 27, 2015 permalink

In foster care the foster parents have custody while the social worker has the power. California social worker Manuel Sedillo took advantage of his power to have sexual relations with three teenaged girls under his control.

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Social worker pleads not guilty to sexual assaults

Manuel Sedillo
Manuel Sedillo

A former San Mateo County social worker pleaded not guilty Friday to 30 counts of having sexual relations with three underage girls who were under his supervision.

Manuel Sedillo, a 38-year-old Santa Clara man with a wife and child, was arraigned in San Mateo County Superior Court and scheduled to face a jury July 20, according to the District Attorney’s Office.

Sedillo was working for the county’s Human Services Agency when he allegedly assaulted three 16-year-old East Palo Alto girls who were on his caseload, according to the District Attorney’s Office.

The charges against him include unlawful sexual intercourse, oral copulation and sexual penetration with a minor.

Sedillo was assigned to the family of the first reported victim in 2011 and became very friendly with her before beginning a sexual relationship between June 21, 2014, and July 31, 2014. Sedillo reportedly had sexual relations with her at several motels, a San Mateo County beach and the Child Protective Services office in East Palo Alto, according to the District Attorney’s Office.

The second victim reported Sedillo, who was like a father to her, took her to an upscale San Jose hotel where they had sexual encounters, according to the District Attorney’s Office.

Since Sedillo’s arrest last October, a third victim came forward alleging he sexually assaulted her in his personal and county-provided cars, according to the District Attorney’s Office.

The third victim, now 21, was 16 and 17 years old at the time she was assaulted by Sedillo, said Chief Deputy District Attorney Karen Guidotti.

“Anybody that preys on young girls or young people are committing despicable acts and to have a person who is in a position of authority who is supposedly there to help these girls, and yet betrays them like this, it’s really unthinkable. It’s hard to imagine the kind of damage that is done to these young women when they can’t trust a person who’s supposed to be helping them,” Guidotti said.

Sedillo began working for the county’s Human Services Agency in 2006, and was placed on administrative leave in July after the first girl came forward. He ultimately resigned from the Children and Family Services Department just before he was arrested in October.

A pretrial conference has been scheduled for June 15 and Sedillo is currently out on $600,000 bail. A call to his attorney was not returned.

Source: San Mateo Daily Journal

sex/rape

London CAS Cutback

March 27, 2015 permalink

London CAS has complained about budget cuts, and the press has obliged with a sympathetic article. Of course, from the point of view of families, the theee million dollar budget cut is an improvement.

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Kids lose in cutbacks at Children’s Aid Society of London and Middlesex

Programs that help kids traumatized by sexual abuse and domestic violence, and that help families buy groceries, are being axed at the London area’s deficit-plagued child welfare agency as its high-priced former director remains on medical leave.

Eight programs that benefit kids and families are being cut, scaled back or thrust under review, fallout of government funding cuts to the Children’s Aid Society of London and Middlesex, whose bloated management and questionable spending came under blistering review in a provincial report obtained by The Free Press.

Now, as it tries to whip its books into shape, absorbing 2% annual funding cuts imposed by the province until it’s back in black, the agency that protects vulnerable children has to shed or reduce programs that include one to teach parenting skills and another to help older kids transition to adults.

Even home visits — parents seeing their kids in the agency’s care — haven’t escaped the blood-letting, with not enough staff to hold them in the home. Instead, some have been done in the organization’s lobby.

With its staff and services being slashed as the CAS is forced to get by on $3 million less, its union is crying foul and one critic calls the government’s move “shameful.”

“More than $2 million has been cut from our budget in two years. How can we operate like that? We cannot guarantee safety of children,” said Karen Cudmore, president of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union, Local 116, which represents agency workers.

MPP Monique Taylor, NDP critic at Queen’s Park for family and children’s services, said the government has gone too far from cutting cheques for the agency’s over-spending to forcing severe budget cuts.

“It is shameful when the government can spend money where it chooses, but vulnerable children take the cut,” she said. “It is impossible for these agencies to fix their budgets overnight.”

To balance its budget, bringing it down to $61.3 million from $64.3 million, the agency — besides slashing programs — has frozen executive pay and cut management and union staff by 39 positions.

Former director Jane Fitzgerald, once Ontario’s highest-paid child-welfare agency boss, remains on a paid medical leave of absence.

A scathing provincial financial review, obtained by The Free Press after a freedom-of-information request, found the CAS top-heavy and wasteful. Bottled up for months, the review revealed the agency spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on renovations to its leased office and consultants, ran far-above-average costs on managing cases, and had more executives who were paid more than $100,000 than did other child-welfare agencies.

While it was in the red, the agency spent $300,000 on renovations, $174,000 on consultants, $50,000 on taxis — including $3,535 for one client — and $19,600 to buy 23 iPad tablet computers.

While cuts to the CAS are broad and deep, eliminating counselling programs to children and parents affected by violence and abuse are the greatest concern, said Cudmore.

The agency says it’s trying to work with the community to pick up the pieces, but that’s raising eyebrows. The CAS will have trouble finding community partners, since they weren’t consulted and won’t pick up the workload without input, said Kate Wiggins of the Women’s Community House shelter for abused women.

“It is outrageous that they have dismantled the domestic violence team,” she said. “These decisions are being made by big agencies in a vacuum, without input from community partners. The children lose, victims lose.”

But the CAS is trying to work with community agencies, said its acting director, Regina Bell.

“We are trying to develop a community consortium around it, but it is not off the ground yet,” she said of help for victims of sexual abuse and domestic violence.

“It will take time. We have to look to the community for solutions.”

In its 25-page review of the CAS, the Ministry of Children and Youth Services made 37 recommendations to improve finances.

Counselling programs aren’t part of the agency’s core service.

Bell said the CAS is working with private counsellors, Western University and police to help sexual abuse and domestic violence victims. She said other youth agencies, such as Childreach and Merrymount, are being contacted to see if other needs can be met.

“I wish we had funds to sustain it, but we can be part of a solution through community services that do exist,” said Bell.


CAS BUDGET NUMBERS

2013-14 budget: $64.3 million

Projected 2016-17: $61.3 million

Bottom line: $3 million cut in three years

PROGRAMS CUT OR REDUCED

  • Sexual abuse: Counselling for kids and adults
  • Domestic violence: Counselling for child witnesses and adult victims.
  • Child therapy: For kids who can’t get community counselling.
  • Adulthood: Helping older kids prepare for independence, finding apartments and managing budgets, etc.
  • Family visits: Not enough staff to hold parental visits in homes. Some funding restored by province.
  • Family support: Helping parents with child care, parenting techniques, getting kids ready for school.
  • Education: Working with schools to help help develop programs for children in agency’s care.
  • Health clinic: Under review, a doctor and nurses offer direct service to children in care
  • Vouchers: To help buy needy​ families food, diapers, baby formula, etc

Source: London Free Press

Mothers of Makayla Sault and JJ Speak

March 27, 2015 permalink

Last year Makayla Sault and a girl known only as JJ were permitted to skip chemo therapy for cancer. Makayla has since died. The mothers of both girls presented their views to oncologists and the press. According to mother Sonya Sault, Makayla's prospects were not good, even with chemo.

Sonya Sault said her daughter Makayla’s experience at McMaster Children’s Hospital was traumatizing. “Every time Makayla approached the hospital her body began shaking,” she said. “She never got over the fear she experienced when she heard her parents threatened with jail and she and her brothers threatened with apprehension.”

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Doctors at McMaster warned using CAS against indigenous families a “horrific” repeat of historical trauma

A hall full of Oncologists and national press gathered to hear the parents of Makayla Sault and the mother of J.J. speak at McMaster University.

Both families were invited to read prepared statements as part of a community panel addressing the prejudice they recently faced in the healthcare system and media – and why indigenous people continue to have traumatic experiences in the healthcare system.

Sonya Sault said her daughter Makayla’s experience at McMaster Children’s Hospital was traumatizing. “Every time Makayla approached the hospital her body began shaking,” she said. “She never got over the fear she experienced when she heard her parents threatened with jail and she and her brothers threatened with apprehension.”

J.J.’s mother read a written statement and clarified that she will be willing to share her story once the March 13th deadline for appeal to her case has passed.

“I have met with provincial government representatives who have been respectful and compassionate,” she said. “The issue is not whether traditional medicine will be respected but how it will be respected. And how and when the two systems can work together.”

Makayla’s mother Sonya Sault read an emotional written statement about their experiences at McMaster Children’s Hospital.

She also sought to correct inaccuracies reported about the child across national media.

Sault clarified that after Makayla’s diagnosis of Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia with a positive Philadelphia Chromosome the child was given a 72% survival rate – if she made it through the five or more years of chemotherapy.

“Not 90%, not 95% – 72%,” she read. “We also learned from doctors at McMaster that chemotherapy is less effective and more punishing for indigenous children. The reasons for this are ‘not well understood’ we were told. In other words – [Makayla] had a 1 in 3 chance of dying from leukemia with the chemotherapy.”

Sault said chemotherapy took such a horrific toll on their child that doctors declared her a “mystery child.”

They also bravely confronted the erroneous media reports and opinions their family has been subject to following the child’s case making world news headlines over the last year. She said, “The controversy, attention and inaccurate reporting have caused our family so much distress we have not been able to truly mourn Makayla.”

Sault addressed media criticisms of her choice to travel to the Hippocrates Health Institute, saying it was upsetting to see her private family vacation exploited by the members of the press.

Dr. Dawn Martin Hill, Associate Professor of Indigenous Studies at McMaster University, spoke about how prejudices about indigenous people latent in the foundations of the healthcare system and mainstream media create great psychological distress for indigenous people across Canada.

A newspaper article from a large Canadian newspaper was quoted which criticized the choice both families made to travel to the Hippocrates Health Institute in Florida. Martin-Hill addressed the truth of the matter in its proper context.

“Neither family went to Florida seeking alternative medicine,” she said. “They fled Canada: fleeing threats of apprehension, incarceration and hostile acts of aggression. In the US they found peace. Think about that. A safe place. That is all. Hope we cleared that up. They did not go there for any other reason than to get away from what was going on here.”

Martin-Hill said that in all of Canada’s reconciliation with First Nations people, the healthcare community has never been a part of those discussions. “The healthcare industry has not only never acknowledged there is a problem, they refuse to discuss any role they may have played in the unethical practices towards First Nations,” said Martin-Hill.

“Collaboration not coercion,” Martin-Hill said. “Using CAS or courts to apprehend First Nations children is loaded with horrific unjust actions Canadian institutions have exacted on First Nations people opening up deep wounds of historical trauma.”

Martin-Hill again invited the McMaster Children’s Hospital and Hamilton Health Sciences to work with the McMaster Indigenous Studies department to collaborate and ensure that staff are aware of the historical traumas enacted upon First Nations people by the healthcare system so staff are better able to treat indigenous patients effectively.

“I am aware there are many good doctors here at McMaster. We need your support. We need you to stand up and work with us. I know you are here,” said Martin-Hill. “We need integrative policies and practices so that J.J. does not have to be in a hostile environment.”

Source: Two Row Times

Useless Investigations

March 27, 2015 permalink

Christopher Booker explains why official investigations into child protection do not, and can not, find the real problems. Using a recent report by Michael Wilshaw as the example, the investigators all earn a living from the protection system. The victims, parents and children, are not consulted.

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These 'carers’ just don’t care...

Christopher Booker examines the abuse of children in care

Michael Wilshaw
Sir Michael Wilshaw, Ofsted Chief Inspector
Photo: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

Still they come, those official reports on the grotesque failings of our “child protection” system. Last week we had another on the failure of Greater Manchester police to heed all the warnings they were given about the abuse of children in “care” in Rochdale (for which no senior officers were asked to resign). From the coverage given to the more wide-ranging inquiry into the workings of our child care system by Sir Michael Wilshaw, Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Children’s Services, it might have seemed that this was yet another critical report, as it highlighted Ofsted’s findings that more than three quarters of the local authority children’s services departments it inspected were either “inadequate” (its lowest rating) or “requiring improvement”.

But a clue as to why the report itself then seemed so strangely thin lay in those Sir Michael consulted for his report. These ranged from local authorities themselves to the adoption and fostering agencies which preside, very profitably, over the record numbers of children now being taken into “care”, at an annual cost of £3.7 billion. Every one of these bodies was part of the official system itself. Sir Michael doesn’t seem to have spoken to any of the system’s critics, let alone to any of those grieving parents or children suffering in “care” who feel that it has horribly betrayed them.

Unsurprisingly, when Ofsted’s director of social care was given a limp little interview by John Humphrys on the Today programme, her only message was that too many children “are not being taken into the care system when they need to be”. In fact, nothing is more disturbing about this system, as we saw in Rochdale and Rotherham, than the way, once children are taken into “care”, their cries for help when they are abused are ruthlessly ignored. Yet the slightest hint given by a teacher or doctor that a child might possibly have been “non-accidentally” injured by a parent can have social workers and police rushing round to remove the child into the very system where they may suffer genuine ill-treatment far worse than anything alleged against their parents. So this inhumane system rolls autistically on, determined to resist any real recognition of just how grievously it has gone off the rails.

Source: Telegraph (UK)

Social Worker Takes Boy from Complaining Mom, Moves in with Dad

March 27, 2015 permalink

The experience of Teresa Smith illustrates two abuses of child protection both commonly reported by families but rarely documented in the press. Smith was divorced and complained repeatedly to Ohio CPS about abuse of her son. The article does not say who she accused, but the ex-spouse is the common target. This is the pattern fixcas calls a divorce continuation. CPS took the standard action, they cut off the complaining parent, Smith, from the child entirely, placing him with the father. Then the social worker in the case got romantically involved with the father. Another abuse often reported parents, but rarely by the press, conflict of interest.

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Parent blasts actions by caseworker

A Findlay woman on Thursday told the Hancock County commissioners that the county Children’s Protective Services agency is guilty of “illegal and unethical behavior.”

Children’s Protective Services investigates reports of alleged child abuse and neglect in Hancock County.

Teresa Smith told the commissioners that in 2012, she became the focus of an agency investigation after she made repeated attempts to force the agency to investigate alleged abuse of her child.

In what she described as an act of retaliation, she said the agency temporarily removed the child from her home. Smith said the caseworker assigned to her case then began dating the biological father of her child.

Smith said within 90 days, the caseworker “rewrote the case plan, changing custody from myself to my son’s biological father, whom he had not known since birth.”

Smith said the caseworker no longer works for the county agency and is now living with the boy’s father and raising the boy.

“What happened to me was wrong, immoral and unethical,” Smith said. “I hope that by speaking to you today that you will recognize that changes need to be made at children’s services, because none of our children are safe until you do.”

Susan Pneuman, owner and executive director of The Center for Autism & Dyslexia, 7430 Timberstone Drive, said Smith’s story is “not the exception,” and accused the commissioners’ office of ignoring problems with the Children’s Protective Services agency.

“Mr. (Phillip) Riegle, you are very aware that I had contacted you just about a year ago about my concerns about a child repeatedly being cared for by convicted sex offenders,” Pneuman said. “You are also aware I was harassed by a caseworker for contacting you.”

Pneuman said she was “sickened” by Smith’s story.

“The caseworker’s behavior this mother describes is immoral and is embedded in the very culture of the Hancock County CPS (Children’s Protective Services),” she said.

Following Thursday’s meeting, Riegle said Diana Hoover, director of Hancock Job and Family Services, which oversees Children’s Protective Services, will be made aware of the complaint.

“We’ll obviously have a discussion with Diana about continuing to hear these types of complaints,” Riegle said.

The commissioners’ office appoints the director of Job and Family Services, and provides money for foster care.

Hoover was named director of Job and Family Services in October after the retirement of Sheldon Bycynski. She had worked as assistant director since October 2013, and previously served as administrator of Children’s Protective Services.

Hoover could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Pneuman is a member of a newly-formed public/private task force that wants to work with Hancock County Children’s Protective Services on child abuse and neglect cases. So far, the agency has declined the task force’s offer, saying that role is already filled by the Hancock County Family First Council.

Established in 1993, Ohio Family and Children First is charged with streamlining and coordinating government services for children and families.

Commissioner Brian Robertson, who was recently appointed to the Family First Council to represent the county, said Pneuman has been asked to join the Family First Council. However, Pneuman disputed that on Thursday.

“Many of the leaders in our community have taken the time to meet over several months to discuss their concerns and hopes for improvement,” Pneuman said. “I do not believe ignoring this issue will make it go away. Children are being harmed and the culpability lies with the commissioners. Please do not wait for a catastrophe to occur to take action.”

Source: The Courier (Findlay Ohio)

Getting Away With Fake Transcripts

March 26, 2015 permalink

Litigants in family court have long been plagued with altered transcripts, altered in such a way as to remove many grounds for appeal. Now in addition to typed transcripts, parties can get an audio recording. The policy is on the Ontario Court website at Release of Digital Court Recordings. But the courts protect themselves from disclosure of their mistakes (or intentional alterations). Anyone applying for a transcript has to fill out the Undertaking to the Court for Access to Digital Court Recordings, downloadable from the Ontario Courts website or our local copy (doc). For readers who cannot read doc files, the applicant must agree to:

  1. I have read and understand s.136 of the Courts of Justice Act, R.S.O. 1990, c.C.43, including that every person who contravenes this section is guilty of an offence and on conviction is liable to a fine of not more than $25,000 or to imprisonment for a term of not more than six months, or to both.
  2. I will not publish, broadcast, reproduce or otherwise disseminate the digital recording, including any annotation in the audio file, in any way.
  3. I will not copy, save, upload or download the digital recording.
  4. I will not authorize, assist or permit anyone to publish, broadcast, reproduce or otherwise disseminate the digital recording, including any annotation in the digital recording, in any way.
  5. I will not provide the digital recording, or copies of same, in any format to any third party.
  6. If a witness exclusion order has been made in the proceeding, I will not disclose the contents of the digital recording to any prospective witness who has not given evidence.
  7. I acknowledge that any notes, transcription or similar document that I produce using the digital recording is not a court transcript or a court record, and I will not purport that it is a court transcript or a court record.
  8. When the digital recording is not being used for the purpose permitted by the undertaking, I will keep the digital recording in a secure place where it cannot be accessed by other persons.
  9. I will destroy the digital recording and render it inoperable when the purpose for which the digital recording was provided to me has concluded.

When there are significant differences between the audio and the transcript, victims ought to be able to expose the chicanery by posting both. But the contract in the application makes them subject to the wrath of the law for doing so.

There is an occasional victim who has nothing to lose. If you are such a person who has received altered transcripts, please send both versions to fixcas. For your convenience here is a link to contact information

Short People

March 25, 2015 permalink

Angela Borths, who is short herself, has lost three children to Oregon CPS because they are too short. Nobody could make up this story. Musical accompanyment is by Randy Newman (mp3).

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Medical Kidnap? Mother Loses 3 Children Because “Daughter is Too Short”

It’s true – Angela Borths’ daughter is short. So is she – just under 5 feet tall. In fact, being short runs in the family. But that didn’t stop her pediatrician from allegedly reporting her to Child Protection Services (CPS.) The petite mother has now had her 3 youngest children taken by the state of Oregon on grounds of “medical neglect,” because her 6 year old daughter is short, and because she says she missed an appointment for her son when there was a 2 month lapse in their ObamaCare insurance.

The pediatrician allegedly calls Angela’s daughter’s short stature a “failure to thrive,” even though she is described by her mother as a happy, funny, creative, and really intelligent child in good health. She is anything but lethargic. Even though she is tiny, she is well-proportioned. According to an endocrinologist who has examined the child, her bone structure is “just right” for her size. The pediatrician’s report, however, appears to be the catalyst behind CPS getting involved in the Borths family this time.

Mother’s History as a Foster Child Makes Her a Target?

It isn’t the first time CPS has been involved with Angela Borths. Angela says she has never committed any crimes, has never done drugs, and doesn’t drink. But she does have one serious strike against her – she spent some of her own childhood in foster care. That, she says, makes her a target. She is certainly not the first person to report to Health Impact News that being in foster care as a child has put her in the crosshairs of CPS when raising her own children.

After she grew up and got out of the system, she determined to rise above her upbringing. Angela has a ready smile and bubbly laughter, born out of a tenacious dedication to overcome the obstacles that have come her way. She worked for several years as a surgical dental assistant, often working with very sick children. She later channeled her love for children into a career working with Scholastic book fairs. Her life is the classic American tale of an overcomer, refusing to let the events of the past destroy her present.

Blamed for Genetic Disease

However, she has remained under the shadow of Child Protective Services. Angela describes several events where CPS decided to get involved, even though there was never any evidence of wrongdoing on her part. When her first baby suddenly became very sick, she took him to the Emergency Room. He was later diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, a serious genetic disease, but that was not until after CPS stepped in and accused her of medical neglect. Even though cystic fibrosis is something that a parent cannot cause or stop, the charge of medical neglect was never purged from the records. She lost custody of her first child to his father, who then moved out of state.

Lead Paint in Grandma’s Old House

Years later, in 2012, Angela’s family was living with her mother in an older home. No one realized that lead paint had been used on the walls. When the children tested positive for lead in their system, the parents were accused of child abuse. Their lawyers allegedly told them “that all we had to do was sign a paper agreeing to allow CPS to offer us services (so it wasn’t an admission of guilt , so we were told).” They signed the papers, not realizing that this would give CPS grounds to keep the allegations of abuse in their system. After a short time, the case was closed.

Seizures, Missed School, and Sinus Medication Mishap

Near Christmas of 2013, Angela’s son, now 9, scared everyone in the household when he began having seizures. CPS again became involved. He was later diagnosed with a mild type of epilepsy which is typically outgrown by adulthood, known as benign rolandic seizures. The condition sometimes caused her son to be exhausted. It took some detective work to try to figure out what was going on, and he missed a good deal of school between trips to the pediatrician, neurologist, and the various tests, such as MRIs. It took a month for doctors to find a diagnosis.

Although the neurologist excused the time away from school, his pediatrician did not, insisting that he be in school and notifying CPS. During this time, Angela reports that she submitted to a drug test, knowing that she had nothing to hide. She had sinus issues going on at the time, and her own doctor had recommended sudafed and benadryl, not realizing that this combination could result in a false positive for methamphetamines.

Angela was horrified, and the children were taken from her, under charges of drug use and educational neglect. The pediatrician first brought up allegations of medical neglect at this time over her daughter’s short stature. It was not until after the appeal and 14 clean drug tests later, that she won back custody of her children. The drug charge was reversed in the appeal, but the short stature allegation remained substantiated in the CPS records.

Daughter Still Short, Triggering CPS Involvement

The children visited their pediatrician recently for a check-up, and Angela’s little girl remains little. She is in great health, but her doctor is concerned about her short stature, reporting it to CPS. According to Brenda Long, Angela’s mom:

Angela’s 18 year old son’s medical records read “short stature.” No one in the family knows any reason for their being short, but they know that it runs in the family. Blood tests have failed to show why they are short. Her daughter reportedly cried during a recent visit because she is taking it personally that she is short. Angela now finds herself facing accusations of medical neglect, that somehow she has done something to cause her child to be short.

Lapse in ObamaCare Insurance

When the ObamaCare website went live, the media was full of reports about the difficulties that people were having in signing up for their health insurance. Angela’s experience was no different. Over the Christmas holidays, she tried repeatedly to renew her insurance with the Oregon Health Plan. On several occasions, she was on hold for hours. On others, it was busy. It was not until February that she was able to get through the system and get renewed. During the time that her coverage had lapsed, she missed a neurologist appointment for her son. She did not, however, miss getting his seizure medication refilled. Instead, she paid out of pocket for his medication.

This lapse in coverage is allegedly included in the charges of medical neglect.

Judge “Rubber Stamps” Removal Order for All 3 Children

Angela’s former “drug problem,” which was allegedly based on a false positive, and found to be unsubstantiated in her previous appeal, is back in the petition to remove her children, according to Angela. She says her attorney has described the current petition as a “cut-and-paste” job of mostly previous allegations, accusations which were found to be unsubstantiated. However, the judge allegedly “rubber stamped” the charges, resulting in the removal of Angela’s youngest 3 children, ages 5, 6, and 9, from her home on March 3, 2015. The 18 year old is now an adult and thus is not subject to removal by CPS.

The social worker made the accusation that the children have too many absences from school. However, the records show that the majority of these are tardies, for which Angela is not responsible. She walks her children to school in the morning, where they eat the school breakfast. Because the kids are already in the school’s care, their mother has no control over when they arrive in the classroom after breakfast.

Angela says that she has records and documentation to prove, like before, that any and all allegations against her are false. Angela says she was stunned when the court took her children, because she says that there is no evidence of harm or risk of harm. But that didn’t stop her children from being taken from their home and their mother who loves them. Again, she is living every mom’s worst nightmare of having her children taken away.

Source: Medical Kidnap

DHS Director Jailed for Child Abuse

March 22, 2015 permalink

The director of Eaton County Michigan Department of Human Services (DHS) spent most of Friday in jail. Kenton Schulze has been charged with domestic violence. The incident was an attack on a teenaged boy who used to live with Schulze. A former foster child is a good guess.

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Kenton Schulze

Eaton Co DHS Director Faces Domestic Violence Charge

The Director of Eaton County's Human Services Department spent most of Friday behind bars. Kenton Schulze, 45, is facing a domestic violence charge.

Schulze is charged with a misdemeanor for an assault or an assault and battery on a minor. At his arraignment in Eaton County District Court Schulze pleaded not guilty.

The Eaton County Sheriff's office says the incident happened Thursday night, while Schulze was at the home of a teenage boy who use to live with him. Since it's part of an ongoing case police aren't saying what led up to the assault.

Schulze could face 93 days in jail and/or a $500 fine.

Department of Human Services Spokesman Bob Wheaton told News 10 "DHS is aware of the situation and we're gathering information and facts. We take allegations like this seriously and we hold our leadership to very high standards."

Wheaton also says the department is reviewing what this means for Schulze's employment status, but stresses it's taking this very seriously.

Ingham County prosecutors filed the charge since there was a conflict of interest with Eaton County prosecutors because of Schulze's position.

Schulze is due back in court for his pre-trail on April 1st.

We're continuing to track this developing story.

Source: WSYM-TV Lansing

child abuse

Shaken Science

March 21, 2015 permalink

The Washington Post has a long series on Shaken Baby Syndrome. Hundreds of cases have collapsed while thousands of convictions still stand. In spite of the change in scientific opinion, prosecutors continue to open new cases. Unfortunately, the web technology makes the article hard to read.

Addendum: Jackie Judd of PBS did a report on the same topic, YouTube and local copy (mp4) and transcript. The principal case is the death of Tristan, son of Andrew and Marielle Shortell in Maryland. The most revealing comment is at the end.

We asked MedStar Georgetown University Hospital and Maryland’s Child Protective Services to comment on this story. Both declined to appear.

After doing something wrong, the first step in healing is admitting the mistake. Social workers hold their clients to this standard. But social service agencies deny their mistakes even after their failures are revealed.

Keeping Secrets from the Police

March 20, 2015 permalink

Which is more important, protecting confidentiality or find a missing child? In New York, it is confidentiality. When Kenneth White was missing police could not look at his child protection file to help find the child. A legislator wants that changed.

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Lawmakers To Consider New Bill Being Pushed For Future Missing Children's Cases

An upstate sheriff and two New York legislators are announcing legislation that would force Child Protective Services to quickly turn over records when a child is missing.

Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple, Republican Senator George Amedore and Democratic Assemblymember Pat Fahy are backing a bill to expedite access to CPS records for missing children.

The impetus is one of the Capital Region’s worst crimes in recent memory. In December, 5-year-old Kenneth White was reported missing by his then-19-year-old cousin, Tiffany VanAlstyne, who was watching him at the time. She initially told police White had been kidnapped by masked intruders, who had burst through the door of the family's trailer at 994 Thacher Park Road in East Berne.

Kenneth White
Kenneth White
Credit http://www.missingkids.com/poster/AMBER/11683/8304

When the Albany County Sheriff’s Office contacted CPS to request access to Kenneth’s records, they were denied. Tragically, White was found dead later that night and his cousin, who had originally reported him missing, was charged with his murder.

The incident struck a nerve with Sheriff Apple, apparent when he addressed the media day after the boy was found dead. "Certain cases stick with you your entire career, and this is one of those cases."

After a review of the case, it was determined that the records should have been turned over when requested. Apple has been pushing for changes to CPS laws. Assemblywoman Fahy: "When children are missing, minutes matter. And as we found during the tragedy of the Kenneth White murder, law enforcement was hindered in their investigation because of some confusion with current law regarding access to child protective records."

Senator Amedore says everything possible must be done to help law enforcement officials like Apple do their job. "...while at the same time being mindful of privacy issues surrounding CPS records. This legislation clarifies an existing statute and removes the questions of when its appropriate to release records to law enforcement during a criminal investigation."

Fahy adds that the new law would have a fail-safe mechanism. "...that would allow for a third-party administrative review should local government turn down that access to records. That third party administrative review would be by OCFS, the office of children and family services."

OCFS declined to comment on pending legislation. Amedore hopes the new bill can help save children in the future. "Unfortunately, this legislation would not have changed the outcome of this horrible tragedy with Kenneth White. But, it fixes serious flaws and ensures that law enforcement officials have access to the information they need during cases involving missing children, when every second counts."

Both the Senate and Assembly were expected to consider the measure Monday.

Source: WAMC Albany

Stacking Child Death Numbers in Alberta

March 20, 2015 permalink

In Alberta high-ranking child welfare officials subjectively classify child deaths before deciding which get investigated. It is the same method used in Texas to dramatically reduce the reported number of deaths in foster care.

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Leaked report calls for reviews of all child deaths in care

Heather Klimchuk
Human Services Minister Heather Klimchuk: “I accept the principles within the recommendations, and now we’re going to need the time to consider the legislative changes.”
Photograph by: Ed Kaiser , Edmonton Journal

EDMONTON - High-ranking child welfare officials arbitrarily decide whether to investigate the deaths of children in care, without reasoned guidelines or oversight of any kind, according to an internal report obtained by the Journal.

The report says “all child deaths should be reviewed,” but the current process allows the director of children’s services to rule out in-depth internal investigations based solely on the limited information available immediately after a child dies.

“We are concerned the process gives the statutory director too much discretion,” implementation oversight committee (IOC) chair Tim Richter wrote in the report, dated Feb. 4. “There does not appear to be evidence-based criteria to support the director in deciding which cases warrant detailed investigation, and which warrant a scaled-down review.”

Richter said Sunday the committee “felt strongly” that the ministry should establish objective, evidence-based criteria to guide internal child death investigations. For example, it may not be necessary to conduct an internal investigation when a child dies from a fatal chromosomal disorder, but any death from a preventable illness may require review.

The eight independent committee members also recommended the province expand internal investigations to include the child’s contact with other Alberta ministries, and reiterated its call for a multi-disciplinary child death review committee overseen by Alberta’s medical examiner.

Fatal Care: Read the Journal's' award winning series

Finally, the committee recommended increased independence for the arm’s-length Council for Quality Assurance (CQA), a group of external experts who work internally with the department to improve Alberta’s child intervention system.

“They should be the governors of the (internal investigation) process,” Richter said. “If, for example, the CQA didn’t feel an internal review probed deep enough, they could send it back.

“This would help build the internal culture of inquiry that is so important.”

In November, Human Services Minister Heather Klimchuk asked the committee to make recommendations concerning the over-representation of aboriginal children in provincial care. In 2013, aboriginal children accounted for 69 per cent of the children in care in Alberta.

In part, the committee recommended the province create special programs to target urban aboriginal families, indicating the goal should be to reduce poverty, provide affordable housing and addiction treatment, address domestic violence, increase employment and boost educational achievement.

“There is solid research to suggest that culturally appropriate services ... will ... reduce the numbers of children in care,” the report says.

Klimchuk noted the committee “validated a lot of the good work we are doing,” highlighting in particular the eight-per cent reduction in the number of aboriginal children in care over two years ending 2013.

“I accept the principles within the recommendations, and now we’re going to need the time to consider the legislative changes,” Klimchuk said.

Asked to elaborate, she listed the numerous agencies currently involved in Alberta’s system to review child deaths. “When I look at the complex system we have in place, what do we do ... to make it more straightforward, in terms of getting the bottom (of these deaths), and learning from these terrible tragedies?”

Concerning the discretion of the director in the investigation process, she said: “I would never second-guess their efforts and integrity,” and added that her goal is to “make sure the system is robust and does what it needs to do.

“My commitment as minister is to ... ensure we continue to have the most transparent system in the country,” she said. “We’ve come a long way here in Alberta. It’s not a perfect system, but ... we’re going to get there.

“It means having these brave discussions, and that’s something I’m very much prepared to do.”

The IOC was established in 2014 after the Edmonton Journal-Calgary Herald award-winning Fatal Care investigation revealed hundreds more children had died in the province’s care than it had publicly admitted.

Source: Edmonton Journal

Foster Homes Closed

March 20, 2015 permalink

The CBC has found that two foster homes in the Moncton area have been closed for 'Abuse/Neglect of Client' during 2013-2014. When CAS takes children from their parents, they frequently give horrifying details such as drug abuse or a filthy home. But when their own foster homes are at fault, CAS withholds all details. They even keep the provincial child advocate in the dark.

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CBC Investigates

Children abused/neglected in 2 Moncton-area foster homes

2 foster care homes in Moncton region shut down for 'Abuse/Neglect of Client' between 2013-2014

Foster children in the Moncton area have been abused or neglected at the hands of those tasked by the provincial government to care for them, CBC News has learned.

Two foster homes were shut down in the last two years for “Abuse/Neglect of Client," according to the Department of Social Development.

The department is refusing to say anything more about the cases, including how many children were affected, the nature of the offences or whether police were called in for a criminal investigation.

​Norm Bossé, the province's child and youth advocate, learned of the closures through CBC News.

“We can't allow mistreatment in foster homes. We simply can't allow it," he said.

“It's not acceptable to me as the child and youth advocate and this office, or I think anybody else, to say ‘well, we'll place you in a place that's better than where you were, but not completely safe.’” said Bossé.

“That shouldn't happen today.”

The provincial department told CBC News that the Child and Family Services Act prohibits the department from saying anything about the cases.

​“The province takes the safety and security of children extremely seriously. It is the foremost concern of the department. In all cases where we get reports of abuse or neglect we will deal with those appropriately and take whatever actions are absolutely necessary to protect those children from future harm and neglect," said Bill Innes, the director of child and youth services.

Innes said the department will call in police on a case-by-case basis. He said in the case of a home being closed for abuse or neglect, "it would depend on the individual circumstances of the situation."

Innes added that the provincial government implemented a new, comprehensive screening program in April 2014.

He said that of the average 460 to 500 homes operating at any time, he thinks "the vast majority are loving, caring homes."

Embarrassed and ashamed

​Zoe Bourgeois, who is a former client of the province’s foster-care system, said she was not surprised that abuse or neglect had occurred.

The 22-year-old woman, who is currently studying social work as a second degree, said it’s unacceptable that the province has not revealed how this came to happen.

“It comes probably down to one main thing: they’re embarrassed and they’re ashamed of what they did to the child. They placed this child in a just as terrible home as they removed the child from. And so the fact that it didn’t work out and that these terrible things happened in a foster home, reflects on Social Development,” said Bourgeois.

“Of course they’re not going to take that into consideration and express this to the media because they don’t want people thinking they’re removing children and placing them in more damaging homes,” she said.

Bossé said he will be seeking answers.

“The public, as far as I'm concerned, is entitled to know whether or not our foster care homes in the province are safe. And for the most part, to my knowledge, 99 per cent of them are safe. And these folks are doing a tremendous job,” he said.

“We definitely will be asking questions of the department on these, absolutely.”

Auditor General Kim MacPherson released a report on foster care in the province in 2013.

Her audit found that the department had not done criminal background checks on all foster parents and that in some cases, files were missing records to show homes had met all standards for approval.

MacPherson made 11 recommendations overall. A follow-up report on how many recommendations have been implemented is expected in December.

CBC News has requested an interview with Social Development Minister Cathy Rogers. Her office has not responded.

Source: CBC

Indoctrinating YMCA Staff

March 20, 2015 permalink

Staff at an Ontario YMCA have to keep up with current doctrines of child protecton. One volunteer reports to Lenore Skenazy.

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Dear Free-Range Kids: I’ve been attending our local YMCA for longer than I can remember (beginning with parent-and-child swimming lessons, I’m told), and volunteering there off and on since I was twelve. So I’ve been involved there longer than the people who are currently in charge, and most of the people who work there have known me for years.

In 2013, they introduced a mandatory Child Protection course for ALL staff and volunteers over the age of sixteen, even those who don’t actually work with children. Fine, a bit much, but it’s a family facility, and the Child Protection course only takes about an hour (the first incarnation was in person, but after that, it was online).

Then, with the introduction of the Child Protection course, they also insisted that we get Police Record and Vulnerable Sector Checks done every six months, when the standard rule is that these are good for a year.

In addition to that, they instituted a rule whereby everyone over 16 has to show I.D. to enter the YMCA. Okay, that’s also a bit over the top, but they don’t really enforce it with people they know.

But this year, they upped the ante again, Here are the new requirements:

  1. Take an online Child Protection Course (about 60 minutes to take)
  2. Take an online AODA (Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act) course (about 30 minutes)
  3. Take an online course about Bill 168, which is about workplace harassment (about 30 minutes)
  4. Take an online WHMIS [Workplace Hazardous Materials Information Systems] course (about 60 minutes)
  5. Provide the contact information of three references who’ve known us for at least a year, aren’t family members, are over 18 years of age, and can speak directly to our ability to work with children.
  6. Update our Police Record and Vulnerable Sector checks if we’re nearing the six-month mark since last time. The Y will write you a letter authorizing the police to do it for free, but it’s still a hassle.
  7. Attend an in-person volunteer orientation.

Now, maybe some of this makes sense for some people, but the materials course certainly doesn’t apply to everyone at the YMCA. WHMIS is mostly for factory workers, or people who work around dangerous chemicals. So, it’s not really relevant to anyone other than maintenance staff, and possibly lifeguards, who have to periodically test the pH of the pool and add more chlorine.

The Child Protection course I can understand, because even people at the YMCA who don’t specifically work with children, are going to run into them. I don’t even mind taking the AODA course, because one of the things I’ve done over the years at the YMCA, and plan to do again, is volunteer in an adaptive fitness class for people with disabilities.

However, I don’t see any reason for everyone to take everything, except that it’s easier to set a blanket rule, and send a mass message, than to think about what’s really necessary for whom. As for the letters, I don’t know three people who’d fit all the criteria to act as references, and the only one I’ve found so far is another YMCA employee, which the YMCA didn’t specifically forbid……yet.

As for the volunteer orientation, I can’t imagine what it would entail that hasn’t already been covered in the myriad of online training courses. And the best part? I got the e-mail about all of this late on a Sunday afternoon, and we were told that we had to finish everything by the following Thursday. It’s a little over a week later, and I’ve just managed to finish the first four things.

The most ironic thing about all of this is the fact that the YMCA purports to be all about “Building healthy communities.” It’s impossible to do that when trust and goodwill have given way to bureaucracy.

– Y Volunteer

Source: Free Range Kids

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