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Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Letter to Ms. Chambers...

Dear Ms. Chambers,
I am very disappointed at your lack of support for ombudman Andre Marin's plea for
the authority to investigate Ontario
Children's Aid Societies.
The CAS's of Ontario have absolutely no accountability to the public; we who pay
their salaries through taxes. I have
been informed that they answer only to their Board of Directors who are not
impartial.
What consequences befall employee's who do not carry out their jobs effectively?
None.
It is the role of the ombudsman to act as the 'go between' the Provincial government
and the public, and as such, he
should have the authority to investigate any misuse of power or financing; of which
the child welfare system is a
perfect example.
You know my opinion of the child welafre system through our previous conversation;
they are no longer beneficial to
society on a whole in protecting our children. The CAS and CCAS's of Ontario instill
fear, contempt and loathing in the
public view. They have a jaded history of destroying families and more importantly,
of devastating the children they are
entrusted to protect and provide for.
I ask you, who protects the protected from their protectors? Who provides the checks
and balances?
It is my opinion that Mr. Andre Marin, if given the right, will be a beneficial,
independent official that will ensure
that the child welfare system is functioning properly. The Children's Aid Society's
of Ontario, (all of them) MUST be
accountable to the public, as well as to the children they supposedly serve.
Does the government not realize that the cost to society in caring for children
properly now is much less than the
burden of youths going through the judidial system or relying on social assistance
later?
We pay the CAS's to perform a duty that is not being carried out, and as a result,
the system needs a complete overhaul
and SHOULD be changed. Giving the Ontario ombudsman the authority to investigate
complaints against the child welfare
system is a very positive first step in rectifying the current situation.
I beg you to please re-think your stance on Mr. Marin's plan and support him
regarding his proposal to the Social Policy
Committee.
I know you are upset as a result of the Jeffrey Baldwin case; you must realize that
the CCAS holds a great majority of
the responsibility for his torture and death.
We, the public, are demanding that this organization be held liable for this child.
(and many other children who have
died as a result of their negligence)
I look forward to hearing from you in the near future.
Sincerely,
Amanda Reed

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Another child was murdered in care today, a 3 year old, in or near Welland Ont. just a peep on the local Ham. news. I feel like the government has blood all over its hands, and I do NOT want to pay taxes to support this sham, like so many others. How many have to die, who cares.??? I care , many of us care, a 3 year old chil has been murdered, in care!!!!!!!! while being protected. Is his natual mother even told, was he removed because she was poor??? when will it ever end. Please Minister do the right thing, this is only going to get much worse, more children die in care then die at the hands of familys, is it better to remove and error on the side of caution???? this child is dead, tell us why??
Support familys in need, the best interest of the child is not to be buried at 3 years old. Remove children only as a last resort. Stop the abuse of the system stop the protectors abuse.

Anonymous said...

To the best of my knowledge, there is no legal requirement for CAS to tell the boy's mother that her child is dead. They intentionally keep parents in the dark wherever possible.

Anonymous said...

An innocent child is suffocated by a child who did not receive proper children's mental health services. Two children died that day in Welland.

It is unbelieveable that the risks were not assessed. Maybe no one cared about what would happen to a 3 year old in a group home for troubled adolescents. Where were the responsible adults? Are foster parents held to a different standard from the biological parents? Why are they not held accountable for child neglect?

The Toronto CCAS was not involved here, but two other public CAS agencies were. Now there is no Mary McConville as a sacrificial lamb to kick around again. Perhaps instead we should be giving Mary Anne Chambers a good swift kick in her back side.

It points to the failure of the entire child welfare system. Is this what our tax dollars, $1.3 billion annually, is supporting?

mandy said...

We need to give this murdered 3 year old innocent little child a name. He is not a person otherwise, just a file number in this brutal child welfare system. We need to give him a proper burial. Can we have a little ceremony for him too? We also need to comfort his parents. Shall we call him David?

Anonymous said...

Maybe Amanda you can make his siblings quilts too.

Anonymous said...

That is not a bad idea, we should hold a service for every child that has died in care, is there enough park space. one has to wonder. the child has a 4 year old sister, and mother, he was removed because she had a messy house, how often do we hear this now, also a history of depression,how can that be child abuse. Please explain.someone anyone? I think we need to plant more then trees in the Ministers office, we need to transplant a few brain cells. A quilt , yes a huge quilt, and lay it out a Queens Park,

Jeffrey's Law said...

I doubt very much there is enough park space for every child who has ever died in care, these memorials shouldn't have to be held in the first place!

And to anonymous, no, there is no Mary McConville this time, but there is more than likely the foster mother and the Welland CAS- there's always someone. It is still my opinion that McConville should be fired immediately and never allowed to work with children again, her career should be destroyed for all the children she LET die. The same goes for ANY other social service worker- or minister, I agree with you there- that do not do their jobs.

Anonymous said...

Mission Statement
The Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers protects the interest of the public by regulating the practice of Social Workers and Social Service Workers and promoting excellence in practice.

Vision Statement
The Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers strives for organizational excellence in its mandate in order to: serve the public interest; regulate its members; and be accountable and accessible to the community.

Values
We believe that our Mission and Vision statements are realized when the goals and outcomes of the College and the Council reflect the following:

Respect

Every individual has the right to be treated with dignity and respect.
Diversity of perspectives and cultures are recognized and valued.
Social workers, social service workers and public members are equally represented on Council and their contributions to the College are valued.
Fairness and Transparency

The College strives to provide services that are accessible and available within Ontario.
The College's communication with stakeholders is clear.
Policies and processes are transparent and reflect openness, quality and consistency.
Efficiency and Effectiveness

Issues are addressed and activities are conducted in an effective, timely and efficient manner.
Leadership and Accountability

The College offers responsible and responsive leadership.
The College is guided by a strategic plan and is fiscally responsible in its operations.
Policies and services are evaluated regularly.
Council and staff are credible, knowledgeable and consistent in implementing policies that demonstrate accountability to the public.
Ethical Conduct

Council and staff follow an established code of conduct that is consistent with the ethical values of the professions.
Caring Communities

The College contributes to creating caring communities through its accountability to the public.

Anonymous said...

act Sheet

On December 16, 1998 the Ontario government passed Bill 76, the Social Work and Social Service Work Act, 1998. This legislation established the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers (OCSWSSW).
A 21-member Council representing equally social workers, social service workers and the public governs the College.
Current number of members: 11, 085

Anyone who holds themself out to be a "social worker," "registered social worker," "social service worker," and "registered social service worker" in Ontario must be a member of the College. Anyone who fails to comply is guilty of a provincial offence and, upon conviction, subject to a fine of up to $5,000 for a first offence and up to $10,000 for each subsequent offence.
Any person may request a copy of all or part of the Register of the College to confirm if a person is a member of the College. Requests must be made in writing.
The College’s primary duty is to serve and protect the public interest.
General Objects & Duties:

To regulate the practice of social work and the practice of social service work and to govern its members.
To develop, establish and maintain qualifications for membership in the College.
To provide for the ongoing education of members of the College.
To issue certificates of registration to members of the College and to renew, amend, suspend, cancel, revoke and reinstate those certificates.
To establish and enforce professional standards and ethical standards applicable to members of the College.
To receive and investigate complaints against members of the College and to deal with issues of discipline, professional misconduct, incompetence and incapacity.
To promote high standards and quality assurance with respect to social work and social service work and to communicate with the public on behalf of the members.
To perform the additional functions prescribed by the regulations.

Anonymous said...

A. Recommendations for Reform

1. Narrow the scope of child abuse and neglect definitions.

Scholars and child-welfare experts from across the political spectrum agree that narrowing the scope of child abuse and neglect would allow CPS to focus on the most drastic cases. Much that is now defined as child abuse and neglect does not merit governmental interference. When less than 20 percent of substantiated cases require removal from the home, the definitions of child abuse and neglect are too broadly drawn.

Narrowing the scope in which the government can interfere will mean that some behavior, which is bad for children, will not be responded to by state authorities. But a parent whose skills and knowledge of child development are deficient may be better aided by someone unassociated with a state authority. Help from a charitable or civic association that holds no threat of harm to the family may be better received. For example, emotionally abusive behavior, such as screaming invectives at a child, may be poor parenting, but does not rise to the level of serious maltreatment. A mother who screams, however, may benefit from someone offering her the possibility of a day out of the house on her own by baby-sitting for her.

Poverty is not a crime either. No one should be persecuted for simply being unable to clothe or house a child adequately. Injuries to children, on the other hand, should be treated as criminal assaults. In fact, most poor parents do not harm their children. Reasonable people can distinguish between shabbily dressed, but well-cared for, children and those who are chronically neglected: one may require private, charitable help, the other state intervention.

2. Place the investigatory powers with the police.

Police are trained in matters of investigation. It is the nature of child protection to be accusatory. Cloaking the investigation under social services and anonymity does nothing to hide that essential fact. The behavior that we are discussing is criminal in nature; therefore police should gather the evidence. Once the scope of what constitutes child abuse is appropriately narrow, local police would be the best government agency to conduct investigations. If the investigation suggests a crime was committed, the case would then proceed to court for adjudication.

Florida is already moving in this direction. Manatee County’s sheriff’s department conducts all investigations and is the model for the reform efforts in the state. Arkansas has also moved its hotline and investigation units to the state troopers’ jurisdiction.

3. Re-criminalize child abuse and neglect

The ability of the government agencies to intrude in the lives of families has to be limited. The most effective way to do that is to treat child abuse as a criminal matter entirely. Having already narrowed the scope of child abuse and neglect to serious cases, what remain are cases of assault and serious neglect. That means that the standard would be the same if someone harmed a stranger’s child or her own. Now child abusers are only guaranteed punishment if they harm someone not related to themselves.

Recriminalization would give both the state and the family clear guidelines. The evidentiary standard would protect the parent from undue state action; the child would be protected, because the child would not be returned to a parent found guilty of harming him, without the parent having been punished. More importantly, placing maltreatment under the purview of criminal courts also brings with it vital protections in the form of due process rights to the parents involved.

Criminal cases, moreover, are not confidential. It should not be a secret if someone is prone to assault his children. Nor should any of the investigative material be closed to the alleged perpetrator or victim. Fellow citizens, through jury trials, should hear evidence and decide whether or not someone intended to harm his child and whether that harm was severe enough to warrant a sentence. Most states already have criminal laws on their books; it is only a question of enforcing them.

Recriminalization would also require the abandonment of central registries. For agencies that work with children that need to do background checks on potential employees, criminal background checks should be sufficient.

3. Repeal mandatory reporting laws that are in effect in all the states.

Mandatory reporting laws, designed to encourage those who work with children to report incidents of maltreatment, have served their intended purpose of raising public awareness and have had unintended consequences. These laws create two negative effects. First, they encourage unnecessary reporting because professionals must report all of their suspicions under threat of prosecution. While such prosecutions are rare, one should not have to report suspicions. Reporting should be restricted to more concrete evidence of a crime.

Since mandatory reports were required, reports have increased exponentially. In 1968, CPS agencies took in 11,000 reports; in 1975 (the first year after CAPTA), CPS had 294,796 reports; now they handle one million with low substantiation rates.

Second, mandatory reporting discourages fellow citizens from taking positive neighborhood action with families in trouble. Some evidence suggests that depression and social isolation are contributing factors to maltreatment, particularly chronic neglect. Citizens tend to consider that their responsibilities have been met when they call an anonymous hotline, because that is what the law tells them to do. Knocking on the door and offering help to a family, which is troubled, but not engaged in criminal behavior, may be the more appropriate alternative.

4. Make child and family services voluntary.

Having separated criminal behavior from deficient parenting, we could enable caseworkers to do what they were trained to do and what they do best, i.e., social work. Without the threat of child removal hanging over their heads, parents might more willingly accept services—such as help with parenting skills. Knowing that an agency only provides services, parents might be more receptive to receiving such help. Moreover, these services should be privatized, as private agencies with performance-based contracts tend to work more effectively than state bureaucracies.

B. Conclusion

Few now deny the success of welfare reform effort in the nineties. But there were plenty of nay-sayers before the caseloads began dropping. After only three years of federal reform, the caseloads have dropped by 49 percent. Even more remarkably, the state bureaucracies have shifted from a "welfare-check delivery system" to a "work-first empowerment system." All of this has occurred in a relatively short period of time. Releasing the states from federal mandates so that they can experiment in child welfare reform could yield similar fundamental shifts.

While most are enthusiastic about the aftermath of welfare reform, no one can be happy about the state of things in child welfare, because, with a few renowned exceptions, it has yet to be reformed. It is a world in which there are little incentives for behaving responsibly—a world remarkably similar to the way in which the old AFDC- pre-reform world operated..

About The Author

Susan Orr, Ph.D. is the director of the Center for Social Policy at Reason Public Policy Institute in Washington D.C. Prior to joining Reason Public Policy Institute , Dr. Orr worked as a child welfare program specialist for the National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Some of her major projects included: overseeing the Third National Incidence Study on Child Abuse and Neglect, a nationally representative sample study of the incidence of maltreatment in the United States, and serving as project officer for the federal child-welfare demonstration effort and its evaluation.

She received her bachelors degree in Politics at the University of Dallas; both her M.A. and Ph.D. in Government are from the Claremont Graduate School. She has published in the fields of political philosophy, American government, and child and family policy in both academic textbooks and journals, as well as more popular venues.

Dr. Orr works out of RPPI’s Washington Office.

Other Reason Public Policy Institute Studies

Conna Craig, Ted Kulik, Tim James, and Shamin Nielsen. Blueprint for Child Welfare Privatization, Policy Study No. 248 (Los Angeles: Reason Public Policy Institute, November 1998).

Bill Eggers, Performance-Based Contracting: Designing State-of-the-Art Contract Administration and Monitoring Systems How-To Guide No. 17 (Los Angeles: Reason Public Policy Institute, May 1997).

Further Recommended Readings

Besharov, Douglas J., editor. When Drug Addicts Have Children: Reorienting Child Welfare’s Response (Washington, D.C.: Child Welfare League of America, 1994).

Committee on Ways and Means, U.S. House of Representatives. 1998 Green Book (Washington: D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1998).

Costin, Lela B., Howard Jacob Karger, and David Stoesz. The Politics of Child Abuse in America (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996).

Fagan, Patrick. The Child Abuse Crisis (Washington, D.C.: Heritage Foundation, 1997).

Gelles, Richard. The Book of David (New York: Basic Books, 1995).

Helfer, Mary Edna, Ruth S. Kempe, and Richard D. Krugman. The Battered Child, Fifth Edition (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998).

Lasch, Christopher. Haven in a Heartless World: The Family Besieged (New York: Basic Books, 1977).

Lindsey, Duncan. The Welfare of Children (New York: Oxford University Press, 1994).

McKenzie, Richard. Rethinking Orphanages in the Twenty-first Century (Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications, 1998).

U.S. Health and Human Services. Child Maltreatment 1996 (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1996).

U.S. Health and Human Services. The Third National Incidence on Child Abuse and Neglect (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1996).

Waldfogel, Jane. The Future of Child Protection (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1998).

Glossary of Terms and Abbreviations

Abuse: harming a child (anyone under age 18) by a caretaker. There are three broad categories of abuse: 1) physical abuse is physical harm that is not accidental or physical punishment that is developmentally inappropriate; 2) emotional or mental abuse are acts or omissions by caretakers that have caused or could cause serious behavioral, cognitive, or emotional harm; and 3) sexual abuse is the use, persuasion, or coercion of a child to engage in any sexually explicit conduct for the purpose of pornography, rape, molestation, prostitution, or incest. Neglect is often subsumed into the term "abuse," but is its own category of maltreatment.

CAPTA: the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, federal legislation enacted in 1974.

Case: when a report has been substantiated or indicated, i.e., abuse or neglect seems to have occurred, the child protection agency opens a case on a child or a family. The child protection worker keeps all relevant data in a case file. That case remains open until the risk of harm diminishes or the child can remain safely with the family; then it is closed. All of the information accrued in the case-file remains with the agency and is not available for scrutiny by either the public or the family involved.

HHS: the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Indicated: this term is used in some states when an investigation suggests that maltreatment occurred, but without the necessary level of proof to substantiate it according to state law.

Maltreatment: term encompassing both abuse and neglect in all its forms.

NCANDS: the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data Set compiled by the Children’s Bureau.

NIS: the National Incidence Study on Child Abuse and Neglect.

Neglect: a category of child maltreatment that centers around a failure by the caretaker to do something, i.e., a failure to feed, shelter or clothe a child adequately. Also included in this category of maltreatment is insufficient supervision of a child.

Report: A report of child abuse, as distinguished from a case, is when someone calls child protection, usually a toll-free hotline, to relay suspicion of either child abuse or neglect. Some professionals are required to report all suspicions. A report becomes a case when child protection decides to investigate after an initial screening the report.

Screening: when an agency determines whether an investigation of a report is necessary; the report is either screened in for investigation or screened out, i.e., not investigated.

Substantiated: This term is used to denote that a report of maltreatment was verified by the child protection agency in accord with state law. If an investigator finds that abuse or neglect occurred, then the report is substantiated or founded. Most states have a two-tiered system of findings: either the abuse occurred or it did not, i.e., it was substantiated or unsubstantiated. (In some states, reports can be substantiated, indicated, or unsubstantiated; see "indicated" above.)

Termination of parental rights (TPR): a judicial procedure that permanently severs the legal bond linking children to their original family. This step is required after a judge determines that reasonable efforts to reunify the family have been made. TPR is required before an adoption can take place.



Policy Study No. 262

Anonymous said...

The Collage of Social Workers, in On, state as posted above to treat with dignity, and respect. I am not hearing this, in fact it is total disregard for parents and children. Foster parents, and foster children.
The Collage how ever is asking for Fairness, and Transparency, we have a Ombudsman willing to offer that, to them and to the public, it would be a shame for Ontario to be the only province left, that does not place value, on all it citizens. Children are not second class citizens, and not all parents, are interested in popcorn and beer, this government can change the perception of the CAS and its own members, by acting with dignity and respect, and allowing the transparency and investigative powers of the Ombudsman's office, if they do not , one is left to wonder is Ontario a place to raise children, what is the Minister hiding, the CAS and CCAS board members have conflict of interest, take a look who sits on each board, ask a the lawyers, in many cases, it is clear conflict. Time to shed some light into this system. Time to also make sure that pendulum, does not swing into over reaction, and take more children into care for caution. They are dying in care, its time to slow down take a hard look at what has already transpired, with all this money spent, and so much opposition, to what many of us perceived as a system that help families, and protected children. It has failed, it should be ordered to stop and decease, we all understand that cannot happen, however watch the numbers of increased children in care, more abuse, and deaths, in care and failed adoptions. It will happen it has been proven over and over again, and now many States are radically changing the system. The Ministers office states we will see less children in care in a few years, because they will be adopted out, good profit in that may I add, but is it respect is it dignity, is it even legal? The recourse should be if a child is taken into care and the case unsubstantiated, the Ministers office and CAS pay all legal cost, and damages. Its time to take a good hard look, an honest look at what is going on, Is Ms Chambers up to the task?

Anonymous said...

A child dies in "the system" or is abused or sexually abused in foster care (which is highly likely, according to their own figures) and it makes news. The child abus . . .uh, protectors are ready. They cry "not enough money" and "not enough people" and "case overload (which is the same thing)" and demand more money from the city, county, or state. Whoever is "investigating the situation, the governor, a committee, the mayor, or the child protectors themselves "buy it" because they have not been paying attention, and are (usually) not paying attention now. They give them more money so they can hire more people (or give themselves bonuses or promotions). A few "lower level" people (usually the only ones who really care, and have been "making waves") are disciplined or fired, sometimes even prosecuted ("falling on their swords" to protect the rest) Then the situation is forgotten and they go on as before . . . except for the child who has been traumatized or killed, that is. This is such a regularly-used scam that the only way anybody would not be aware of it is if he/she is not paying attention. Same old thing, how much are we willing to keep paying this system, its broken, it does Not protect children. It tears apart familys, It has lost the respect of citizens who will now not donate to it, if its a charity lets make them raise half their funding, nice office buildings prime locations, yet where do the children sleep? to many sleep under ground