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Monday, March 27, 2006

Hi Amanda:

I am a Toronto Star reporter working on a story to come out April 7 the day of the ruling into Eva Bottineau & Norman Kidman on Jeffrey's death.
I am trying to find other cases of kinship care where children have been killed or abused in care of other relatives after having been taken from their mother.

Please contact me,
Sincerely,
Dale Anne Freed
Toronto Star
416-869-4436
email dfreed@thestar.ca

212 comments:

1 – 200 of 212   Newer›   Newest»
Jeffrey's Law said...

http://www.casinternment.com/

Please visit this site. The CAS has threatened to shut down this site! Freedom of speech? I'm just waiting for the day when they threaten me!!

Anonymous said...

There many kinship adoptions where the child fares well. The Jeffrey Baldwin situation was a reflection of the total incompetence of the Toronto CCAS. The blunders were astounding and unforgiveable.

It is preferable for a child to remain within his own family and to maintain his biological ties. It will make for a healthier adult.

There are many grandparents, aunts and uncles who do well raising their kin.

It is unfair to paint everyone with the same Jeffrey Baldwin brush. Why did the CCAS deliberately leave him in this home? Did they not know the eventual outcome? The previous case was well documented. Are they blumbling fools?

Let us put the blame where it really belongs.

Anonymous said...

I agree this story is about the total ineptitude of the CCAS of Toronto. It placed many children with abusive foster and adoptive parents. Singling out kinship care is absurd. Strangers are more dangerous without question, and all should be done to encourage family preservation. Jeffrey was placed with 2 convicted abusers due to their stupidity, but he could have been given to someone else in the family not abusive. What is the motive of the reporter? Are they someone who adopted who is on a bandwagon about finding children for strangers? The reporter would do better to interview those who have been in the CCAS system rather then target kinship care. If they actually think that foster care and adoption is safer, then they are totally blind to reality.

Anonymous said...

Jeffrey's Law said...
http://www.casinternment.com/

Please visit this site. The CAS has threatened to shut down this site! Freedom of speech? I'm just waiting for the day when they threaten me!!


Yes I am sure they would love to silence anyone - freedom of speech indeed. We need if anything more groups to expose them!!!

Anonymous said...

Dale Anne,

When you speak of children placed in the care of grandparents or relatives by CAS, you cannot assume that mom and dad are guilty of any negligence or abuse. CAS routinely removes children from normal families and places them in positions of risk. If you don't know that already, you have a lot of homework to do.

Less than thirty parents murder their children in Canada each year. Child deaths at the hands of grandparents and other family members is rarer still. Cases like Jeffrey Baldwin and Sherry Charlie are notable exceptions.

The point is not so much that CAS placed Jeffrey in the hands of abusive grandparents - but that CAS routinely grants custody to child abusers of all descriptions - sadists and pedophiles included. CAS IS THE PROBLEM.

As for kinship care, family members are entirely capable of making suitable arrangements between themselves when necessary. It happens all the time.

The last thing they need is an external agency with no credibility stage managing their lives. It might be better to focus your story on the tragic outcomes of CAS' intervenion in cases of this type.

Anonymous said...

What can I say,when the media stops turning a blind eye to REAL issues, and starts reporting on cases of children that have died and been abused in care, the abuse of power by the child protection agencies, no due process in the family courts, why children are being removed in the first place, and not on a couple sensational cases,where children where placed with KNOWN child abusers, Write a story about the children that have died in care, in foster homes in group homes, there are plenty, and no one has written a word. WHY? hat can I say,when the media stops turning a blind eye to REAL issues, and starts reporting on cases of children that have died and been abused in care, the abuse of power by the child protection agencies, no due process in the family courts, why children are being removed in the first place, and not on a couple sensational cases,where children where placed with KNOWN child abusers, Write a story about the children that have died in care, in foster homes in group homes, there are plenty, and no one has written a word. WHY? all study's done have shown a child is much safer when left within the family unit. Speak to the Crown Wards or watch the documentary. Do some real research, then write. And earn the respect of the community that is well aware of the problems.

Anonymous said...

Tonight on Chtv, there was a debate between Mark and Donna and two guest, a social worker and a mother with 3 teenage daughters. It was with regards to the news story of a 12 year old CHILD, being stabbed at an all ages dance, by another young preteen girl.
One fist question of course is where are the parents!!?? My understanding is children need to have adult supervision till age 12. However this mother on the show explains the problem, and rather well, The UN RIGHTS OF THE CHILD.

She spoke of her concerns about her young daughters drug abuse, was has been told by the police they can do nothing its a CHILDS LAW centred society. The CAS came at the parents request and the mother again was told, if the child does not want to get help, then the mother HAD NO RIGHT to INSIST her CHILD DID SO.
The mother spoke of the difficulty's disciplining children, if you take away privileges , enforce curfews, plead with your child to seek help, they can and often do in her case call the CAS and tell on mom. The CAS returns to interview the daughters to hear, mom is trying to take away their rights. GIVE ME A BREAK.
IT IS TRUE
parents have NO RIGHTS TODAY, ONLY CHILDREN AND CAS HAVE RIGHTS.
As we see more and more youth crime, and ask how and why such young children are out late at night, and indeed where are the parents, thanks to the flawed UN RIGHTS OF THE CHILD, and its misuse in the 1st world, ask the politicians when they will get around to ratifying it and putting back parental rights in the Charter. As is it is being abused not only by children but by the courts and child protection industry.
The social worker on the show ready to jump in and blame the parents concluded indeed the mother was right, she had no rights, and if we do all we can from birth till the teens we still know that part of that right of passage called the teens is not an easy right of passage for any parent. The are more influenced by peers, by the cultural media, and how long in this child centred culture can we allow children to drive at a hundred miles down a highway, with no licence and no directions, before many more like this 12 year old child are harmed or on drugs, or have died, because the rights of the child have taken president over the rights of the family. Only foster parents can inflict tough love, and the like, there is mo mercy or rights to be found once a child is in care, for that child or family. We have to put pressure on the politicians to address this concern. Its the problem
BILL C 210 had third reading today. the yays had it. there is NO OVERSIGHT. time to move from Ont.
for that matter we would all do better living in the 3rd world. And perhaps could really help some children in need. And teach our own ethics.

Anonymous said...

Ms Freed, why dont you do a story on how the CCAS did not have to hand over their documents even with the judges order on this case, How and why they got placed in a home with clear child abuse history known to the CCAS.

or the story of M reid the 3 year old murdered in care, by another foster child, his mother was praying he would be returned, he was removed because she had a messy house and history of depression, HISTORY off, my child teacher and last years teacher where both on medications for depression and anixty, they spend the day teaching children, so why cant a mother with a history off!!!! care for hers?? because CAS wanted the money. and until someone writes about the dirty deeds nothing will change.

Jeffrey's Law said...

Did Bill 210 pass?!?!?!?!?

Anonymous said...

Bill 210 is NOW law! Check out how the Ombudsman is supposed to have more power. What a joke!
McGuinty Government Strengthening Ontario's Child Protection System
Canada News-Wire
Mon 27 Mar 2006
Dateline: QUEEN'S PARK, ON, March 27
Time: 17:53 (Eastern Time)
QUEEN'S PARK, ON, March 27 /CNW/ - Ontario's new child protection legislation will help more children in the child protection system grow up in stable, caring homes, and make children's aid societies stronger and more accountable to the families and communities they serve, Children and Youth Services Minister Mary Anne Chambers announced today.

"Our goal has always been to build a child protection system that works exceedingly well for vulnerable children," said Chambers following passage of Bill 210, the Child and Family Services Statute Law Amendment Act, 2005, in the Ontario legislature. The legislation is part of the government's broad reforms to improve the lives of vulnerable children and strengthen Ontario's child protection system by expanding adoption options and improving safeguards for children and youth referred to a children's aid society.

"This legislation will clearly place the interests of children first," said Chambers.

Ontario's 53 children's aid societies represent children and youth who have been or are at risk of being abused or neglected. Children's aid societies receive approximately 160,000 calls reporting child abuse and neglect each year and there are about 9,000 children in their permanent care (Crown wards). Only about 10 per cent of those children are adopted every year. On average, young people in foster and group homes move every 22 months.



"Through no fault of their own, they have faced incredible challenges," said
Chambers. "We want them to have the opportunity to thrive and have bright
futures."
When fully implemented, child protection reform will:


- Increase the accountability of children's aid societies through a
stronger, more timely complaints process. Under the new changes,
families could bring complaints forward to a neutral third party,
the Child and Family Services Review Board, over which the
Ombudsman will have jurisdiction. CFSRB decisions will be binding.
This process builds on existing safeguards, including the Auditor
General and the Coroner's Office
- Allow more children to be adopted while keeping important ties to
their birth family and community through open adoption agreements
- Provide more options for children who can't be adopted so they can
grow up in caring, permanent homes. For Aboriginal children and
youth, customary care arrangements that allow them to keep
important cultural and family ties will be emphasized
- Bring consistency to the adoption application process, making it
simpler and easier for prospective parents
- Create a provincewide registry to help match available children
with prospective parents
- Where needed, provide support to parents after an adoption is
complete
- Help resolve child protection cases outside of the courtroom more
quickly through collaborative solutions such as mediation
- Provide children's aid societies with the tools to support and
strengthen families facing challenges, so they can take better
care of their children
- Make children's aid societies more sustainable and accountable
through a new funding framework.
"We are encouraged by the steps taken by the government to promote greater stability for children and help them grow up in permanent, loving and supportive homes," said Pat Fenton, Executive Director of the Adoption Council of Ontario.

"The changes we are making in our child protection system reflect this government's priorities of health, education and strong communities," said Chambers. "By helping the children and youth in our communities who truly need our support and protection, we are providing hope and opportunity to our most vulnerable young people."

Anonymous said...

For those keeping track........

A father in Toronto has been charged with murdering his 11 month old baby over the past weekend.

Anonymous said...

If only CAS would open their files then we could read about the REAL reason children are taken away from their parents. They could follow it with stories of children who have been returned to their parents and why.

This could be very helpful for those in this position

I do not believe for one minute poor housekeeping led to the children being taken away.

Anonymous said...

What is a 12 year old doing out at a rave at 2:30 am????????

Dont tell me the UN dictates to the parents!! The parents should be setting the rules not the UN.

I do not believe most kids are aware of the UN.

Give me a break. Some parents are just plain incompetent.

Anonymous said...

Some may be surprised that what starts out as a kinship adoption fails down the road with the grandparents returning the children to CAS.

The nut doesnt fall too far from the tree.

Anonymous said...

The CAS is taking over the blog

Jeffrey's Law said...

How is CAS taking over the blog?

Anonymous said...

Some may be surprised that what starts out as a kinship adoption fails down the road with the grandparents returning the children to CAS.

The nut doesnt fall too far from the tree.

I SEE THE OPPOSITE. When the desperate infertile couple does not get the "product" that they want as in the perfect child THEY ARE THE ONE'S THAT RETURN THE CHILD.

Anonymous said...

Bill 210 will help the child abduction society to take more children, while the Minister works with a private baby broker. Anyone with children should study the law, and be careful. They want your children for their clients.

Anonymous said...

Amanda: The CAS is not taking over the blog--some people are just paranoid....if one dares to disagree with them they are labelled as CAS.

Anonymous said...

I think those that want other people's children are posting on this blog - but I don't think they will be ALLOWED to take over. Only those who wish to promote the child abduction society, and the billion dollar adoption industry wish to promote what is going on. And hey if it is not them you can bet it is a broker after all part of their business is convincing society that natural families are the enemy and infertile strangers "safer".

Anonymous said...

To the poster that said kinship adoptions fail, actually they don't public and private one's do as they allow a "return" policy to the buyer of the children.

Anonymous said...

So the reporter wants to create more hate for natural families? Are they under the mistaken pretense that they are doing a good thing by making normal and real families the enemy? Yes, let's start a new campaign of hatred to find a market for all those who want SOMEONE ELSE'S CHILD.

Anonymous said...

Ms Freed, why dont you do a story on how the CCAS did not have to hand over their documents even with the judges order on this case, How and why they got placed in a home with clear child abuse history known to the CCAS.

or the story of M reid the 3 year old murdered in care, by another foster child, his mother was praying he would be returned, he was removed because she had a messy house and history of depression, HISTORY off, my child teacher and last years teacher where both on medications for depression and anixty, they spend the day teaching children, so why cant a mother with a history off!!!! care for hers?? because CAS wanted the money. and until someone writes about the dirty deeds nothing will change.

EXACTLY AND WELL SAID - WHY DOES THIS REPORTER WANT TO HELP THE CHILD ABDUCTION SOCIETY? WHY IS THIS REPORTER NOT GOING AFTER THE REAL STORIES BEHIND CCAS. Might they be in bed with them?

Anonymous said...

There are three types of people that support the CAS 1) they have found and hunted down another child through them 2) they work for them or 3) they are waiting for a child..... actually make that 4 people - then we have private brokers that love them as it paved the way for them to be in business.

Anonymous said...

Amanda I am quite sure that they do want this site to shut down http://www.casinternment.com/
and all sites. God forbid that the truth is told. The CAS cannot handle the truth and with Bill 210 the government cannot either. Keep up the good fight in the name of Jeffrey, you have done well in having this blog. I commend you for it very much!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

The reporter should focus ON THE REAL ISSUE HERE WHICH IS THE UTTER AND SHEER STUPIDITY OF THE CCAS WHICH PLACED JEFFREY INTO A HELL HOLE, LET'S NOT FORGET THE SAME AGENCY "PLACE" THOUSANDS OF CHILDREN IN FOSTER CARE AND IN "FOREVER FAMILIES" OF HORRIBLE CHILD ABUSE. But Kinship care is suddenly suspect? I think the reporter is suspect - what is the motive here? Why is the reporter NOT QUESTIONING the CCAS like Christie Blatchford did? Why is the reporter NOT GOING AFTER THE REAL STORIES? One of them is on this blog - why is this story NOT IN THE MEDIA? It should be!!!

Anonymous said...

WHY IS THE FOCUS ON KINSHIP CARE - WHY IS THE FOCUS NOT ON FOSTER CARE OR ADOPTIVE PARENTS? Look at the DEAD and abused children on this site and say that the system protects children? Why is the focus NOT ON THE CAS, and what is this reporters REAL AGENDA HERE?

Anonymous said...

What is really sad about this reporter is that there are thousands of people who were taken from their mothers and abused - and they are crown wards and in many cases those adopted by the CAS. I guess none of those people count as natural families are all bad, and total strangers good and let us not forget "safe". The story of Matthew Reid should be covered, not a witch hunt to promote the child abduction society.

Anonymous said...

We shall see what will happen in Ontario.

The good people of Ontario stood by and allowed this to happen.

These holier than thou people will figure it out when their children and grandchildren are taken.

Anonymous said...

You know the bloody politicians did not even have a recorded vote with this bill, so we have no idea of who supported it and who did not. From the past it would be obvious that Tory and his party supported it fully though - I am really amazed at how this bill just got sneaked through - if politicians do not have the "balls" to make a recorded vote about the CAS then what does that say?

Anonymous said...

Andrea Horwath sold out the parents and children.

Anonymous said...

I do not blame Horwath but I do blame anyone who did not write in against that bill.

Anonymous said...

I also blame all those who worked with baby brokers, defense lawyers and the CAS for this bill.

Anonymous said...

The point is not so much that CAS placed Jeffrey in the hands of abusive grandparents - but that CAS routinely grants custody to child abusers of all descriptions - sadists and pedophiles included. CAS IS THE PROBLEM.

YES IT IS I AGREE WITH THIS POSTER - and it has been the problem for over 100 years now. It invents child abuse for an industry, and ignores real cases of it in the mean time.

Anonymous said...

If the media does not have the intelligence to know that the heart of this problem is the CCAS and who they dump chilren with then they should not be in the media. If anything children should be with their families more - but the child abduction society does everything to destroy families. Should Jeffrey Baldwin had of been with his sick, abusive - hellish grandparents - NO of course not but WHO PLACED THIS INNOCENT LITTLE BOY WITH THESE FREAKS - the CCAS did.

Anonymous said...

By Peter Worthington Toronto Sun

By PETER WORTHINGTON




One thing (among many) that stands out in the horrible 2002 death of Jeffrey Baldwin is the need for an inquest.

The first-degree murder trial of grandparents Elva Bottineau and Norman Kidman will determine their guilt or innocence but won't do much to change the system and reduce chances of future Jeffrey Baldwins -- or establish broader responsibility for a death that should never have happened.

An inquest would examine the case as a whole, and recommend preventive measures that, from testimony so far, are long overdue.

As well, an inquest would determine fault or responsibility of others -- like four adults living in that house of horror on Woodfield Rd. where Jeffrey died.

And, of course, the actions of the caseworker involved, and her employer, the Catholic Children's Aid Society (CCAS).

Jeffrey was approaching his sixth birthday when he died, and weighed 21 pounds -- one pound less than he weighed when he was 12 months old.

As well as bruises and abrasions, he had pneumonia and fecal bacteria in his blood. He died from septic shock.

Evidence so far reveals a residential home in which Jeffrey's room was a barren, unheated, disgusting chamber of horror rife -- with debris, feces, and a rotted, urine-soaked mattress.

Last week Judge David Watt, showing signs of impatience, ordered the CCAS to turn over all its files on Jeffrey to the prosecutor.

Jeffrey's CCAS caseworker, Margarita Quintana, hasn't been helpful and has refused to answer questions from the police or prosecutor before the trial -- hence the need for CCAS files.

It seems appalling that the two grandparents would be given custody of Jeffrey and his three siblings when both had previous criminal convictions for child abuse.

Baby died in 1970

Bottineau, as a 19-year-old in 1970, was convicted and sentenced to a year's probation in the pneumonia death of her 5-month-old daughter, who, an autopsy showed, had multiple small fractures to her wrist, elbow and shoulder.

In 1978, Kidman was convicted of two counts of assault causing bodily harm to Bottineau's kids, aged 5 and 6. He got two years probation and was fined $150 for each conviction.

CCAS didn't check the record of blood relatives when this pair sought custody of their grandkids.Well, CCAS sure as hell checks now.

What gives with children as victims?

In 1997, baby Jordan Heikamp, 6 months old, died of starvation -- weighing less at his death than when he was born.

His teenage street mother and the CCAS social worker were charged with criminal negligence causing death, but the judge at the preliminary hearing dismissed charges.

In 1994, baby Sara Podniewicz died of pneumonia, but an autopsy found she had 24 broken bones. Michael Podniewicz, on parole, and Lisa Olsen were charged with murder.

He got life with no parole; she got five years.

The above cases all represent lapses in the CCAS's duty to children.

An inquest would inevitably focus on whether there were CCAS failures and recommend changes, as well as possibly urging that individuals who do nothing to stop criminal abuse of children be charged.

Inquest recommendations aren't always acted upon, but they have moral sway and can dig deeper and broader than a murder trial.

Overlap with trial

It might even be useful for the coroner to announce his intentions for an inquest now, before the murder trial is done.

So what if there's some overlap with the murder trial?

This child's death was so depraved and unnecessary, that it's unfair to Jeffrey and potential victims not to do everything possible to deter similar outrages in the future.


Tues, September 7, 2005

AT LEAST THIS reporter has the issue at hand being discerned. The CCAS ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR THIS NIGHTMARE. They did not even check their files, they did not check anything period. A little boy is dead because of this idiots and it is time that something was done about them. Let's not forget that they "place" children with foster parents and adoptive parents daily. At one point the murderer of Jeffrey was also taking care of other children in care - a big question would be what did she do to those children, where are they, and how were they removed over their real families to be left with a convicted child abuser who babysat them with the FULL approval of the Catholic Child Abduction Society? An inquest is needed, but so is a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the entire system.

Anonymous said...

Custody granted to child abusers
Toronto agency made realization only after child died: 'We didn't check the file' on the grandparents' assault convictions, CAS director admits

National Post, Christie Blatchford, Saturday, February 22, 2003

TORONTO - Two convicted child abusers won custody of their four young grandchildren even as information about the pair's criminal records was buried in the files of the Catholic Children's Aid Society of Toronto.

The National Post has confirmed that only after one of those grandchildren, five-year-old Jeffrey Baldwin, died an emaciated shell of a little boy last Nov. 30 and a Toronto Police homicide investigation began, did the child-welfare agency belatedly discover the critical documents in their own system.

"It's in our files," a stricken Mary McConnville, the CCAS executive director, told the Post in an interview in her downtown Toronto office yesterday.

"We did not check our records," she said bluntly. "We were as astonished and as disturbed as you are when we found it."

The case preceded Ms. McConnville's takeover at the helm of the agency three years ago, but she was frank in her assessment of what happened.

"We think we have detected a significant flaw in our policies and really regret we were unaware of" the grandparents' convictions.

"We don't answer for one minute that we should not have known the histories here," she said yesterday.

Jeffrey died a month and 20 days shy of his sixth birthday when the 911 Toronto emergency centre received a call and firefighters arrived at his grandparents' ramshackle east-end home to find the boy not breathing. He was formally pronounced dead within the hour at the Hospital for Sick Children.

A post-mortem followed, but the horror of the child's life was immediately evident to the naked eye: Jeffrey weighed only 19 pounds -- three less than he had at the age of 18 months -- and resembled a concentration-camp victim, his belly grotesquely swollen, ribs prominently displayed, and skin so dessicated it hung in folds on limbs as thin as sticks. His body was also dotted with red sores and holes, his penis and tiny bum covered in scabs.

Police quickly learned that Jeffrey, and a sister who is a year older, were kept in a small locked room of the house, with nothing in it but two cribs and a small chest. While the little girl was allowed out to attend school, Jeffrey rarely escaped the bleak confines of the room, and was in such distress he would sometimes bang his head on the wall.

The homicide probe into Jeffrey's death continues, with the surviving three children now in the agency's care.

What the child-welfare agency missed in its files was clear documentation that two of the six adults then living in that house -- the two who had won official custody of Jeffrey, his two sisters and his baby brother with the implicit consent of the CCAS, which Ms. McConnville said yesterday "did not object" to the grandparents' plan -- were demonstrably dangerous to children.

Jeffrey's grandmother, 51-year-old Elva Bottineau, was convicted on June 10, 1970, of assault causing bodily harm in the death of her own baby daughter, five-month-old Eva.

A Toronto Star story of that date, headlined "Mother put on probation for assaulting her baby," reported that though Eva died of pneumonia the previous February, Toronto Police were called in when an autopsy revealed the infant had also suffered "tiny fractures of the shoulders, elbows and wrists," and that while Ms. Bottineau at first denied assaulting the baby, she later changed her story.

Due to the developing nature of child-abuse investigations at that time, and the lack of sophisticated diagnostic tools such as bone scans that only became available years later, the assault was then believed to be unrelated to the baby's death.

Modern investigations have shown that pneumonia may be linked to such injuries as rib fractures, which inhibit the ability of an infant or young child to breathe properly or cough to clear her lungs.

The prosecutor in Eva's case was Patrick LeSage, who later went on to become the distinguished chief justice of the Ontario Court, and he told Judge Crawford Guest that no purpose would be served by putting Ms. Bottineau, whom he said a psychiatrist had described as "mentally defective, but not mentally ill, and impatient and aggressive," in jail. The judge agreed and sentenced her to a year's probation

Eight years later, it was Jeffrey's grandfather's turn in court.

Norman Kidman, now in his 50s, was convicted of two counts of assault causing bodily harm on Dec. 29, 1978, in connection with assaults on two of Ms. Bottineau's children, then about five and six, by her former relationship. Mr. Kidman was sentenced to two years' probation and fined $150 for each count by Judge Walter Hryciuk.

The two children were later made Crown wards and subsequently adopted.

But Ms. Bottineau and Mr. Kidman went on to have four youngsters of their own, one of whom presented them with the four grandchildren.

The story of how Ms. Bottineau and Mr. Kidman won custody of those children is unclear.

As the Post revealed last December in a report about Jeffrey's death, it appears there may have been three separate court processes involved, with the grandparents gaining custody first of one child, then of Jeffrey and one of his sisters, and then, finally, their baby brother shortly after his birth.

The Catholic Children's Aid was involved, Ms. McConnville confirmed yesterday, because of "protection concerns" about the children's parents.

At one point, the children's mother was reported to the agency after she was seen shaking one of the youngsters in a welfare office.

It appears that what happened is that the grandparents came forward, with the consent of the children's parents, and sought custody privately in family court -- and that at least once, and perhaps as many as three times, the CCAS did not contest their application. "The parents were the subject of our protection concerns," Ms. McConnville said yesterday, "not the grandparents. It was the parents who were involved with us."

But, in fact, as Ms. McConnville agreed, it is not parents or prospective guardians who are the real clients in the child-welfare business, but rather vulnerable children.

"That's a perfectly legitimate question," she said yesterday, adding that in Jeffrey's case, "Here we had a record and somehow we didn't get to it."

As soon as the grandparents' histories were found in the agency's files, Ms. McConnville said, the CCAS set about finding out what had gone awry.

As it turned out, she said, "There was no policy at that time that staff check" files in cases where relatives are seeking custody of children considered at risk with their own parents -- this is what's known as "kinship care" in the child-welfare business. Jeffrey's case, Ms. McConnville said, "raises the question of whether we approach extended family differently than we do others who are trying to plan for children." It is not unusual, she said, "for family members to come forward where we have protection concerns."

Ms. McConnville stressed that "we did not knowingly place" the four youngsters at risk and emphasized that the discovery of the grandparents' criminal records came after the little boy's death. "There is a policy now," she said. "There wasn't then."

She said the agency's failure to focus on the child as the client, and not the involved adults, is one of the most troubling aspects of the case.

"It's a significant concern," she told the Post, "and it's one I've had all my years in child welfare -- that it is the child who is the client, that the child does need to be the focus of our concerns."

It is not the first time that CCAS staff have had difficulty making the distinction.

Most recently, it was another CCAS client, Jordan Heikamp, who came to public attention.

The baby was just five weeks old when in the early summer of 1997 he starved to death at a native women's shelter chock-a-block with helping professionals while under the ostensible supervision of an agency social worker.

Both that worker, Angie Martin, and Jordan's teenage mother, Renee Heikamp, were charged criminally in the baby's death, but were later discharged after a preliminary hearing.

But both women testified at length at an eight-week coroner's inquest that examined Jordan's death in the spring of 2001. Of all the evidence the jury heard, perhaps the most alarming was Ms. Martin's revelation that she believed she could never "impose" her will on the teenage mother, and her apparent belief that it was the young mother, and not baby Jordan, who was her client.

Three years before Jordan's death, another tiny charge of the CCAS was in the headlines.

This was baby Sara Podniewicz, who died gasping for breath, her lungs filled with pneumonia, in her car seat at the age of six months and 10 days.

Sara had endured 24 broken bones -- including 16 fractured ribs, broken legs and a broken arm -- at the hands of her crack-addled parents, Michael Podniewicz and Lisa Olsen, who were, two years later, convicted of second-degree murder in the baby's death.

The trial jurors learned that though Podniewicz had been convicted earlier of aggravated assault on the couple's first child, Mikey Jr. -- an attack that left the infant deaf, blind, partially paralyzed and with the permanent mental age of 10 weeks -- he was nonetheless allowed, after his release from prison, to move back in with his wife, then pregnant with Sara, and their other three children.

A condition of his parole was that he not be alone with his children unless accompanied by a "responsible adult," yet somehow, with the approval of both his parole officer and the CCAS, Olsen was approved as that person.

The agency had a worker assigned to supervise the family, and had another worker contracted from another agency to monitor the home.

These workers both testified at the murder trial, where they were questioned at length about their cheerful notes about the baby's alleged progress.

"This is extremely upsetting," Ms. McConnville said yesterday. "We have a tragedy on our hands, and the only thing we can do is try to learn from it. It's very painful."

© Copyright 2003 National Post





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CREDIT: Carlo Allegri, National Post

Mary McConnville, executive director of the Catholic Children's Aid Society of Toronto, acknowledged yesterday that the agency had in its own files information that Jeffrey Baldwin's grandparents had been convicted of assaulting children.



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The Toronto Star reported the June 10, 1970, assault conviction against Elva Bottineau, Jeffrey's grandmother. McConnville said agency workers were unaware of the criminal records when they failed to object to the grandparents' bid for custody of Jeffrey and his three siblings.



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Anonymous said...

Other jurisdictions have checked the backgrounds of kinship care arrangements for years - the CCAS used the so called lack of a policy about this TO GET AWAY WITH THE MURDER of this little sweetheart. They are RESPONSIBLE FOR HIS DEATH AS MUCH AS THE SADISTS THAT SLOWLY KILLED HIM. Who could defend the CCAS and why would they? Why would a journalist attempt to make this not about the CCAS. Confusing issues is an old trick by them. It is also a trick by lawyers.

Anonymous said...

Pair accused of child torture arrested in Utah
Florida officials say 5 of 7 children suffered starvation, abuse
Saturday, February 5, 2005 Posted: 6:42 AM EST (1142 GMT)



Police in Florida say they found a house with tortured children.


(CNN) -- A Florida couple accused of torturing and starving five of their seven children were taken into custody Friday night in Utah after detectives were able to track their cell phone signals, authorities said.

Capt. Jim Cernich of the Sheriff's Office in Citrus County, Florida, said deputies in San Juan County, Utah, apprehended Linda Dollar, 51, and John Dollar, 58, on a road after recognizing their gold 2000 Lexus sport utility vehicle.

The Dollars face charges in Citrus County, where they lived in Beverly Hills, on one count of aggravated child abuse/torture for all five children.

The accusations include pulling out the children's toenails with pliers and keeping them so malnourished they "looked like pictures from Auschwitz," authorities said.

According to Florida law, aggravated child abuse is a first-degree felony punishable upon conviction by a term of 30 years to life in prison.

The Dollars put up no resistance when they were picked up south of Blanding in southeast Utah, said Bruce Bushore, a sheriff's dispatcher in San Juan County. They were being held in the county jail in Monticello, he said.

Bushore said deputies had been on the lookout for the couple after a nationwide bulletin was issued for them.

"[San Juan deputies] spent a long day on this, looking for these people," Cernich said. "They combed the area and were just about ready to shut down operations when they spotted the vehicle" at about 5:10 p.m. (7:10 p.m. ET).

Cernich said detectives worked with a cell phone company to track signals to two mobile phones being used by the couple.

The Dollars were not the biological parents of the seven children. Gail Tierney from the Citrus County Sheriff's Office said they were their legal guardians, and Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, commenting on the case Friday, said the Dollars had adopted the children.

Tierney said two other children were said to be favorites of the couple and were spared abuse.

911 call brought help
The case came to authorities' attention two weeks ago when paramedics responding to a 911 call from the home in Beverly Hills took a 16-year-old boy to a hospital in nearby Crystal River, Tierney said.

The boy was bleeding from a laceration on his head and had red marks on his neck. He weighed 59 pounds, she said.

"That was just the start of the alarming parts of this case," she said in a telephone interview.

Tierney said investigators believe John Dollar grabbed the boy by his neck, raising him off his feet, and then dropped him. The boy struck his head on a fireplace, causing the laceration to his head, she said.

Authorities went to the home in Beverly Hills, about 85 miles north of Tampa, and interviewed the other children, including twin 14-year-old boys who were so malnourished they weighed 36 and 38 pounds apiece, Tierney said.

One child in the home was their 12-year-old sister, the Florida Department of Children and Families said. The three came under the couple's care in 1995.

In addition to the three teen boys and the 12-year-old girl, the other child allegedly abused is a 13-year-old girl. The two children not harmed are a 17-year-old girl and 14-year-old boy.

In a 1995 DCF questionnaire, Linda Dollar wrote, "We have five adopted children and have seen what we can do to help those less fortunate, we can see so many children who need special care, love and an opportunity to be part of a warm, loving, caring home atmosphere."

The Dollars are accused of forcing the five children to sleep in a closet in the master bedroom with a "wind chime affixed to the door so that the Dollars would know if they tried to get out of the closet," Tierney said.

In addition, they are accused of using a cattle prod or some sort of stun gun to shock the children, securing them to spots in the house with chains, striking their feet with hammers and pulling out the children's toenails with pliers.

"There was evidence of damage or missing toenails of these children," Tierney said. There was no evidence of sexual abuse, she said.

"To look at the photos I saw, it was just extremely unnerving," Tierney said. "They looked like pictures from Auschwitz."

Tierney said it also appeared that the Dollars tried to keep the children inside the home as much as possible and that each one was home-schooled.

Authorities removed all seven children from the home January 27 and placed them in the custody of the Department of Children and Families. The Dollars were to appear in court for a hearing Monday but never showed up.

Allegations 'revolting and disgusting'
Tierney said Friday the children are doing well "in terms of eating more and eating better."

Don Thomas, a DCF administrator, called the allegations "revolting and disgusting."

Thomas said the department acted as quickly as possible to remove the children from the home, and Bush said the department did its job properly.

He said that the case was the first reported involving the family and said that authorities are investigating where the children came from.

From March to October 1995, the Dollars were licensed as foster parents in Hillsborough County, Thomas said.

The couple moved to Beverly Hills in August. Before then, they lived in Tennessee with the seven children and apparently ran a small school in the Knoxville area.

"They said they were foster children, and they had come from Florida and these children were being abused, so they had rescued them from homes," said Jean Underwood, who rented a house to the Dollars near Knoxville before they returned to Florida.

Acting on a tip earlier Friday, authorities in Polk County, Florida, found the couple's 1996 black and gold Prevost Marathon motor home at Deer Creek RV park in Davenport, about 75 miles southeast of where the family lived, Cernich said.

CNN's Patrick Oppmann contributed to this report.

Anonymous said...

From the New York Times - sent to this blog for the people that think strangers are safer?

Beating Cited in Death Of Foster Child, 4
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Published: July 30, 1997
An autopsy on a 4-year-old foster child showed that she died of dehydration, malnutrition and injuries inflicted by a blunt object, the New York City Medical Examiner's office said yesterday.

The girl, Caprice Reid, had been placed by a foster care agency in the home of a woman, Patricia Coker, despite a warning by another agency, Little Flower Children's Services, about Ms. Coker. The girl was found dead on June 29, her body covered with bruises.

Ms. Coker, 26, and her mother, Betty Coker, 49, are in custody on assault and child endangerment charges. The Medical Examiner's report could open the way for murder charges. But yesterday, Patrick Clark, a spokesman for the Brooklyn District Attorney, Charles J. Hynes, would say only that a grand jury investigation was under way.

Anonymous said...

Here is an intelligent article as well from Canwest - note it mentions THE CCAS WHICH IS THE PROBLEM - HELLO DALE ANNE FREED? Anyone home there???


View Larger Image

Susan Dimitriadis, the paternal grandmother of Jeffrey Baldwin, outside a Toronto courthouse in early October.
Photograph by : CanWest News Service
Shannon Kari, CanWest News Service
Published: Tuesday, October 25, 2005 Article tools
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Font: * * * * TORONTO -- The Catholic Children's Aid Society is defending its conduct in the Jeffrey Baldwin murder trial and suggesting the lead prosecutor has "misinformed'' the court about its level of co-operation.

Crown Attorney Beverley Richards has complained several times during the first-degree murder trial of Jeffrey's grandparents that the CCAS has not responded properly to requests for files related to the boy and his family.

RELATED STORIES:

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Boy weighed 10 kilograms at death
The dispute has already resulted in the postponement of the trial of Norman Kidman, 53, and Elva Bottineau, 54, on two occasions.

"It is unhelpful for the Crown to make extemporaneous comments that we are not delivering materials, when we are doing so,'' said Paul French, a lawyer acting for the CCAS.

The agency recently filed documents in court that suggested the Crown has presented "an unfair and misleading characterization of the response of the CCAS.''

"The CCAS has at all times co-operated with the Crown and the police,'' the agency said in the court documents.

Superior Court Justice David Watt, who is hearing the trial without a jury, has been told the agency was not willing to have three of its employees interviewed by the Crown before they testify.

The CCAS responded that the employees "have completed numerous affidavits,'' which have been available to the lawyers in the trial and that a scheduled meeting in August was "abruptly cancelled by the Crown.''

The children's aid agency did not oppose the transfer of custody in 1998 of Jeffrey from his mother to his grandparents. At the time, the 14-month-old boy weighed just over 10 kilograms. He weighed about a half kilogram less than that, when he died of starvation in November 2002, more than four years later.

The CCAS, which had involvement with Bottineau dating back to 1964, failed to check its records to discover that both grandparents had prior convictions for abusing their children.

"The circumstances under which he (Jeffrey) went to live with his grandparents were a private arrangement between parents and grandparents. They obtained custody privately through custody court. The CCAS was aware of the family's plans and agreed with those actions. Unfortunately, its records were not checked,'' said the agency in the court documents.

"You have everything. No we don't, is an apt description of this controversy,'' a frustrated Watt said Monday.

He ordered the Crown to put a request in writing by Wednesday for the files it is seeking and for the CCAS to respond the following day.

The murder trial was then adjourned to Oct. 31.

© CanWest News Service 2005

Anonymous said...

Kevin's Bill passed today requiring a coroner's inquest for any child dying in the care of a parent with restricted access. How about a law requiring an inquest for any child dying in CAS care?

Mrs. Chambers says that she is in the business of protecting children,but she means that only children with parents are in need of protection.

Anonymous said...

I understand the frustration of the person that accused Andrea Horwath of "selling out" - but don't believe this comment is fair.

To appreciate Horwath's contribution, it may help to imagine it was your own MPP that publicly opposed CAS as she did. That probably didn't happen. Horwath didn't hide.

That said, it would be unrealistic to expect her to bring down the system on her own. From the outset, her main interest was in holding CAS accountable. That's a reasonable position for someone who knows that's something's wrong but has yet to reach the realization that the system should be scrapped.

Horwath had the same thoughts on CAS accountability as Andre Marin, a much bigger fish in the food chain. That in itself is remarkable - anyone who has followed CAS issues for even a few years will sense that the ground has shifted. The message is getting through.

Has anyone noticed that politicians are no longer effusive in their praise for CAS. Opposition from all corners was strong enough to force the Minister to make a few oblique accountability references to disguise the abuses in the bill.

Although the Ombudsman was not given CAS oversight, Chambers could not exclude him entirely. Truly a bitter pill as Marin's position is a significant embarassment to the government.

When one considers the bunker mentality surrounding CAS, all these developments must be considered legitimate steps forward. It's also clear that CAS is no longer capable of intimidating people into silence. The critical lesson here is to keep up the pressure and increase the momentum.

Anonymous said...

Then why did you not report that father BEFORE he killed his baby, to the poster of 11 month old killed by father. Because you cant know, How many children where murdered in care last year? how many foster parents killed or sexually abused a child in the last 3 weeks? how many adopted children have been abused. Give me break.

Anonymous said...

I read nothing on Ms Chambers helping familys in this. Although she is on record yelling about it. Kin ship placement is suppose to be the 1st option , only after parents have been deemed unfit, for what ever twisted slanderous statements the social workers got the creative writting dept of social pychos to write about.
Am I pissed off, you bet this Minister is a cover for the crimes against children and familys.

And if the social workers want to post on how great things are , on this blog, get a grip. Your not following anyone. tragic another child died, but there IS nothing you can do to , but gather all children and place then her and there till I have your kids and you have mine.Is that where we are heading????

Anonymous said...

I have a kinship adopted child, no one has ever abused or neglected. We had to have back ground checks and it was before Jeffery was born. I don't get it at all. And as far as CAS and CCAS its
abuse of power is dangerous. And a danger to children and family's equally, they don't care about children, how else can you explain the years and years of abuse of children in there hands, in the governments hands, the residential schools, the special needs agreements they lied about. Messy house you bet ask the family court lawyers. Read Dave Brown, and do a goggle news search and put it on alerts, every day many more children die or are abused in care, or by an adopted parent in the US, as they are receiving money as well to adopt special needs children. Why not give the money to the parents they were apprehended from for better housing, or there needs, because its not good business.
This system is as ugly as it gets, remember smoking once harmed no on either, and the government told us all it was safe. The residential school abuse, no one listened too, the Crown Wards, and the family's being gagged and threatened for coming forward. There's a story.

Anonymous said...

Looking at the time and content of dissenting comments on this board, it appears we may be dealing with multiple posts from an individual that has a serious hate-on for parents.

The first one states, "For those keeping track - A father in Toronto has been charged with murdering his 11 month old baby over the past weekend." What is the purpose of these comments beyond perpetuating the parent as monster myth? As stated on this very board, incidents of parents murdering their children are almost non-existent in Canada - especially when one removes those falsely convicted from the figures.

The next post suggests that CAS files should be opened to reveal the "REAL" reason children are removed from their families. The writer is oblivious to the fact that thousands of Ontario residents have publicly commented that the system allows CAS to engage in unbelievable dishonesty itself to gain custody of children - without any accountability. The word REAL as in TRUTH is not in CAS' vocabulary. The poor housekeeping scam is reported consistently across the board leaving no doubt as to its authenticity.

Then we have a comment about the twelve-year old at a rave, that is used to suggest parents are incompetent. The poster might refer to other content on this site as to how parents become targets in such situations. In short, youth are known to use the threat of CAS intervention to get what they want. If the parent tries to intervene, they are labelled abusive - a perfect catch 22.

Two minutes later, we have a post that suggests grandparents return children to CAS because the arrangement fails. The writer offers no statistics to support his/her claims - a blanket statement leaving the impression that the writer's real intent is to demean arrangements of this type. Why not post newspaper articles confirming your opinion as other have about the horrendous abuse that children experience in CAS foster homes, group homes and adoptions?

Anonymous said...

Let's not forget Ted Chudleigh. For a member of that committee to acknowledge any problems with the bill was a step in the right direction.

Anonymous said...

The Law and Practice of Emergency Removal

On an average day, police officers and child-welfare caseworkers throughout the United States remove more than seven hundred children from the custody of their parents to protect them from alleged abuse or neglect.3 These children are typically seized without warning from their homes or schools, subjected to intrusive interrogations, medical examinations and/or strip searches,4 and forced to live in foster homes or group residences while the legal system sorts out their future. Some of these “emergency removals” are pre-authorized by judges in ex parte proceedings similar to those for obtaining a search warrant;5 others are effected solely on the authority of the law enforcement or child welfare agency conducting the removal.6

Removals can be terrifying experiences for children and families. Often they occur at night.7 Parents have little or no time to prepare children for separation. The officials conducting the removal, as well as the adults supervising the placement, are usually complete strangers to the child.8 Children are thrust into alien environs, separated from parents, siblings and all else
familiar, with little if any idea of why they have been taken there.

A former caseworker described her experience at New York City’s Emergency Children’s Services (ECS), where 30 to 40 children were brought each night following removals while placements for them were located:

When I first came to ECS, I tried to reach out to all the children who were crying or sitting alone, shocked and terrified. It was easier with the little ones, because I could hug them and they would immediately respond. . . .
. . . .
. . . . [The people who make removal decisions] don’t see a child having a panic attack at 3 a.m. because he is suddenly alone in the world. Or slamming his head against a wall out of protest and desperation.9

Such experiences may not only cause “grief, terror and feelings of abandonment” but may “compromise” a child’s very “capacity to form secure attachments” and lead to other serious problems.10 The trauma may be magnified when the child is actually suffering abuse or neglect in the home,11 and in any event it is increased when reunification with loved ones does not occur quickly.12

Not surprisingly, in light of the harsh human impact of removal, the law requires it to be used sparingly. The U.S. Supreme Court has held that the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution provides a fundamental right to “family integrity,” a right of parents and children to be free of unwarranted governmental interference in matters of childrearing.13 Consistent with that right, the state ordinarily must provide notice and a hearing before forcibly separating a parent and child.14 Courts have held that only an imminent danger to a child’s life or health can justify removal of the child without notice and a hearing first.15 Even then, a prompt post-removal hearing must be held.16

In practice, however, children are seldom removed on anything but an emergency basis – either unilaterally, without a court order, or on the basis of some form of ex parte judicial authorization.17 The number of emergency removals, moreover, has increased steadily for the past two decades, to the point where they now occur at nearly double the rate of twenty years
ago.18 This has led to a dramatic expansion of the foster-care population, which grew from 262,000 children in 1982 to nearly 550,000 in 2001.19 The seemingly inexorable growth of this population, fueled by emergency removals, has led to a consensus that the child welfare system is in crisis.20

The rising use of emergency removal might be justified if it were necessary to protect children from imminent danger.21 In addition, a certain number of false positives (“type 2" errors in statistical terms) can be expected from any enforcement scheme. Yet the number of such errors that actually occur is alarmingly large. According to statistics published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), more than 100,000 children who were removed in 2001 – more than one in three – were later found not to have been maltreated at all.22 And that is only the tip of the iceberg. Because definitions of maltreatment are extremely broad and substantiation standards low,23 it can be reasonably assumed that a significant number of other children who are found maltreated, and for whom perhaps some intervention – short of removal – is warranted, are nonetheless removed on an emergency basis

Anonymous said...

What accounts for the large and growing number of unnecessary removals? Although this is a complex question (and one that will be be the subject of a forthcoming article), an important factor appears to be the rise within child welfare practice of “defensive social work.”

This refers to the tendency of CPS personnel, first identified in the early 1980s, to base removal decisions on fear – fear of job discipline, fear of civil (and even criminal) liability, and especially fear of adverse publicity resulting from the death of a child left with or returned to his biological parents.25 Defensive social work has flourished in the past twenty years, fueled by the news media’s appetite for sensational child-maltreatment stories26 as well as by laws that purposely magnify the public visibility of child maltreatment fatalities and near fatalities.27 This has led to a series of removal stampedes or “foster care panics,”28 in which thousands of children have been swept up by child-welfare authorities in the aftermath of high-profile child fatalities.29 During such stampedes, the very creed of the government’s action – often expressed as “erring on the side of safety” – invites over-reaching in the name of the greater good.30

What is forgotten or ignored during removal stampedes, however, and more generally in modern child welfare practice, is the range and extent of harm that can result from unnecessary removals. Members of affected families may suffer enduring harm psychologically, financially and in countless other ways from the stresses of removal and its aftermath (leading to divorce, job loss, etc.). Removed children, moreover, are not necessarily safer in their new placements. Rates of abuse and neglect, including fatal abuse and neglect, are significantly higher in foster care than in the general population.31 What’s more, unnecessary removals siphon resources and exacerbate problems within the already-strained system, leading to other new harms – such as overcrowded courts that cannot provide hearings32 and additional “missed” cases of fatal child maltreatment.33

But it gets even worse. Once a child is removed, a variety of factors converge to make it very difficult for parents to ever get the child back. One court has referred to this as the “snowball effect.”34 The very focus of court proceedings changes – from whether the child should be removed to whether she should be returned. As a practical matter, the parents must now demonstrate their fitness to have the child reunited with them, rather than the state having to demonstrate the need for out-of-home placement. By seizing physical control of the child, the state tilts the very playing field of the litigation. The burden of proof shifts, in effect if not in law, from the state to the parents.

The remainder of this article considers the causes and consequences of this procedural phenomenon, and possible responses to it.

3. The Pivotal Procedural Role of Emergency Removal and its Consequences

Lawyers have long recognized the powerful influence that an initial removal exerts on subsequent child protective proceedings. Twenty years ago, an American Bar Association study reported that “[e]xperienced litigators” in child protection cases found it difficult to get children returned home “once removed, whether the original removal was appropriate or not.”35 More
recently, one such litigator put it this way: “Possession is nine-tenths of the law. Children who are with their parents at the beginning of a child protective proceeding are likely to remain at home; children who have been removed are likely to remain in governmental custody for a long time, even years.”36 One clinical law professor has labeled this phenomenon “tracking” – as in “a train getting on a track and continuing to move down that track no matter what.”37 And one nationally-known jurist has written that issuance of an ex parte removal order, “in so many cases, is indeed the ball game.38

It is not supposed to work this way. Consistent with due process, state laws generally establish a two-step process for the state to obtain custody of a maltreated child. In the first, or “adjudicatory,” phase, the court must decide whether allegations that the child has been abused or neglected are legally sufficient and, if so, factually true.39 In the second, or “dispositional’ phase, the court must decide what remedy (assuming abuse or neglect has been found) would be in the child’s best interest.40 In addition to “committing” the child to the care and custody of the state CPS agency, dispositional options typically include allowing the child to remain at home with (or return to) his or her parents, with or without “protective supervision;” committing the child to the care and custody of the agency for a specified (or in some states indefinite) period of time; or transferring legal guardianship of the child to a relative or other appropriate person.41 The comments quoted above show that emergency removal serves as an end-run around the adjudicatory and dispositional phases, effectively predetermining their outcome and depriving them of their intended purposes.

Many factors contribute to this phenomenon. To some extent, it merely exemplifies the propensity of interim decisions in any kind of litigation to become self-reinforcing. This has been labeled the “sequentiality effect.”42 The sequentiality effect may in turn be an example of “path dependence,” the principle that earlier events “affect the possible outcomes of a sequence
of events occurring at a later point in time.”43

The sequentiality effect is based on findings from empirical studies of choice behavior suggesting that judges, like other people, seek to avoid feeling or appearing responsible for negative outcomes, and that they feel more responsible for actions than for omissions.44 These preferences lead to a “status quo bias,” a tendency to avoid actions but not omissions that subject the decisionmaker to a risk of known failure. To the extent that judges are vulnerable to this bias, they will be inclined to continue interim orders, and to do so in some cases where a change would be warranted.45

The sequentiality effect is greatly magnified in child protective proceedings (and to some extent in other child custody cases). Most importantly, it “is reinforced by the child development principle that custodial change becomes inherently and increasingly detrimental as the existing custodial arrangement becomes more longstanding.”46 Children desperately need continuity of relationships, and the more time a relationship between a child and foster parents has to develop – the more “bonded” they become – the more harmful to the child disruption of that relationship is likely to be.47 Thus, in cases where a child has already been removed, judges’ natural inclination to avoid actions but not omissions that may cause harm are strengthened by the knowledge that any change of custody is intrinsically likely to be harmful. In other words, there is a compelling argument that the child should remain wherever he or she is, regardless of whether the child should have been placed initially.

This analysis suggests that efforts to reverse an emergency removal are most likely to succeed if they are made very quickly following the removal. As discussed previously, due process requires a prompt post-removal hearing even when summary removal is justified.48 Yet these hearings are often shams.49 They may be extremely brief, lasting one hour or less.50
Lawyers for parents and children, moreover, if there even are any at this point,51 may have barely had a chance to meet their clients, much less to investigate the state’s evidence of imminent danger and prepare a cogent response.52 Thus, the prospect of quickly undoing an unnecessary emergency removal is fanciful at best in most cases.

A second factor that amplifies the sequentiality effect in child protection cases is the decrease in the state’s substantive burden of proof between the post-removal hearing and the adjudicatory and dispositional hearings. As discussed earlier, a child may be removed on an emergency basis only if he or she faces some imminent danger.53 At the constitutionally mandated post-removal hearing, the question of imminent danger generally remains the focus.54

At the adjudicatory hearing, however, the substantive focus shifts to proving abuse or neglect – broadly defined concepts that are diffuse enough to sweep in a great deal of parental conduct.55 It may thus actually be easier to prove that a child has been abused or neglected, even by a preponderance of the evidence, than to prove that the child faces imminent danger by the same or a lesser standard. A finding that a child has been abused or neglected, moreover, sets the stage for the disposition, at which the substantive focus in most jurisdictions is on “the best interests of the child” – as amorphous a standard as exists in the law.56 Again, it may be easier to establish that a child’s best interests would be served by a one-year “commitment” in foster care – especially if the child is already in care pursuant to a removal – than to prove imminent danger. Thus the legal obstacles to placing or keeping a child in foster care decrease rather than increase as the case progresses, contributing to the difficulty of reversing unnecessary removals.

At least two other factors exacerbate the sequentiality effect in child-protection cases. First, although significant risks may attend to both removal and non-removal, the latter inevitably get more play in court hearings. “The proceeding, by its very nature, highlights the dramatic and tangible risk that a child will be harmed at the hands of a person who has been identified as a possible risk to that child.”57 Judges thus cannot ignore this risk, but it is much easier to overlook the less sensational and palpable risks of family separation and substitute care. This disparity is exacerbated by the resource disparity between the parties. In contrast to the government, the overwhelming majority of parents in child protection cases are poor, and the quality of the representation they receive from their court-appointed lawyers (if they have counsel at all) marginal or inferior. This leads to further exaggeration of the risks of non-intervention.

Second, although judges are supposed to operate as a check on CPS actions, they exhibit the same defensive outlook as many CPS caseworkers. This results in what might be called “defensive judging.” Judges, like social workers, understand that a decision not to remove a child, or to return a child home who has been unilaterally seized by CPS, is much more likely to come back to haunt them than is a decision to uphold the status quo.58 Judges thus may order or uphold an emergency removal even on dubious evidence because they do not want to “risk making a mistake and having a child die.”59

Another set of factors that tends to make emergency removal self-reinforcing stems from the effect of the removal and its aftermath on the parents and child involved. Perversely, the emotional stress caused by these events may themselves become grounds for continued separation and ultimately termination of parental rights.

Many parents understandably become angry at and highly suspicious of caseworkers who remove their children for reasons that are not readily apparent to them – especially when, as is usually the case, the removal occurs without warning after parents have been speaking and/or working voluntarily with CPS for several days, weeks or months. Yet any expression of anger may come back to haunt the parent at a neglect or termination hearing. Descriptions of angry outbursts may be offered by the state and accepted by the court as evidence of instability, lack of cooperation or potential for violence.60 A parent’s suspicious or hostile attitude toward caseworkers may be construed as evidence of clinically-significant paranoia.61 A parent’s disclosure to a court-appointed psychologist or psychiatrist that she is experiencing depression, hopelessness, anxiety, or grief from being separated from her child may become the basis for retaining custody of the child until treatment succeeds in alleviating those symptoms.62 which is currently being appealed to the Connecticut Appellate Court.

The psychological harm to children resulting from the removal and its aftermath may also perversely become the basis for longer and even permanent separations. Most children who remain in foster care for more than a few weeks experience multiple placements – that is, they are repeatedly moved from one foster home to another.63 This experience, combined with that of the removal itself, may cause children to develop post-traumatic stress disorder,64 reactive attachment disorder65 or other major psychiatric illnesses. For children who develop such “special needs,” maintaining the status quo of their current placement is often seen as crucial to helping the child to heal. In some cases, moreover, this becomes part of the basis for terminating the parental rights of parents who may have undergone significant “rehabilitation” but not enough to be able to care adequately for a previously healthy child who has now become emotionally fragile.66

A removal and its aftermath also place tremendous strains on the parent-child relationship. Visitation while the child is in foster care may present logistical problems if the child’s placement is far away, especially if (as is often the case) the parents must rely on public transportation to get there. A “lack of services and a sense of hopelessness or rage” may also lead parents not to fully pursue contact with the child.67 Visits may be further strained by the child’s feeling of being abandoned or rejected by the parents, and by anger at them for failing to protect her from being removed; by the awkwardness of meeting in a stranger’s home or agency office under the watchful eyes of a caseworker; and by parents simply trying to cram too much loving into a one-hour, weekly visit.68 Any deterioration of the parent-child relationship manifestly makes return of the child appear more risky and thus less likely.69

Finally, the very knowledge by system insiders of the tendency of emergency removals to become self-reinforcing itself contributes to the phenomenon. Parents are repeatedly told – by their court-appointed lawyers, CPS caseworkers, court personnel, and others – that regaining custody of their child will be difficult.70 They are told that their best chance of regaining custody quickly is by showing “cooperation” and settling.71 This creates enormous pressure to settle, and most parents in fact do.72 “Settling” in this context generally means admitting or pleading nolo contendere to abusing or neglecting the child and accepting the services deemed necessary by the CPS agency to permit the child to return home. Thus some cases that might actually result in a child being returned home quickly, if the parents were to litigate the matter aggressively, wind up being settled with the child remaining in foster care for an extended period.

Not every observer, it must be noted, agrees that systemic forces operate solely to reinforce emergency removals and impede the return of children to their parents. One scholar has argued that other forces pull strongly in the opposite direction, particularly the tendency of judges (despite their superior class background) to identify with parents “simply because the judges are also adults and often parents,” and because they like most other people believe strongly in the right of family integrity.73 Although these factors may have some influence in private custody (i.e., divorce) cases, any impact they might have in the child protection context is overwhelmed by the strength of the forces discussed above that tend to preserve the status quo following an initial removal.74

Since the enactment of ASFA in 1997, prolonging a child’s stay in foster care directly increases the risk that the child’s legal relationship to his or her parents will be completely severed. ASFA generally requires states, as a condition of receiving federal funds, to file for termination of parental rights with respect to any child who remains in foster care for fifteen out of twenty-two consecutive months.75 Termination of parental rights is a “devastatingly adverse action,”76 the most severe judicial remedy known outside of the criminal law.77 Under ASFA, parental rights can now be terminated, or at least gravely threatened, on the basis of the mere passage of time.78 (describing termination as “the jurisprudential equivalent of capital punishment” in the civil context).

Given the enormity of the human interests at stake, it has generally been assumed that termination of parental rights is reserved for cases of severe abuse or neglect, abandonment or parental incapacity.79 ASFA’s focus on a child’s length of time in foster care inherently reduces that substantive threshold. Indeed, ASFA’s focus on expediting “permanency” for children can be viewed as a direct assault on that threshold. Thus, whether or not the mere passage of time itself is explicitly made a basis for TPR (as opposed to a mere trigger for the filing of a petition), the effect of ASFA has been to lessen the extent to which a parent must be shown unfit in order to obtain a judicial order permanently severing his or her parental rights.80

Vague statutory grounds for termination compound this problem. Termination may be authorized, for example, where the parent of a child previously found abused or neglected has failed to achieve sufficient “personal rehabilitation” as to encourage the belief that within a “reasonable time” the parent “could assume a responsible position in the life of the child,” or in roughly analogous circumstances.81 Although statutes such as these have survived void-forvagueness constitutional challenges,82 they clearly leave a great deal of room for judicial discretion and subjectivity in determining what constitutes a “failure to rehabilitate.” Now an anonymous call from a neighbor, who may be mistaken or even vindictive, can set in motion a process that results in a shattered family and traumatized, victimized children whose lives are permanently cut from those of their parents and siblings despite never being in any real danger to begin with. The next section explores how such tragedies – tragedies of overinclusion – might be averted.

4. Solutions

Several relatively minor statutory changes would significantly reduce the risk that children will be unnecessarily removed and that, once a removal does occur, it will become self reinforcing and self-perpetuating, while maintaining sufficient authority and flexibility for CPS to seize a child on an emergency basis when such action is truly needed to protect the child.

States should clarify that the “imminent danger” required for emergency removal is an imminent risk of serious physical injury or death. Although only a few courts have explicitly established this as the constitutional threshold,83 the dangers discussed in this article dictate that the floor should be set no lower as a matter of policy. Yet few states have enacted such narrow substantive limits on emergency removal.84 Indeed, a few states provide limits that contain no reference to any sort of “imminent” or “immediate” danger.85 It is difficult to reconcile provisions such as these with the constitutional standard, and courts have invalidated at least two of them.86

States should further specify that a child may be removed unilaterally by CPS officials or police officers only when taking the time to obtain an ex parte court order would clearly jeopardize the child’s safety. Again, this condition may or may not be constitutionally required,87 but it is dictated by policy considerations. Several states in fact already require it.88 Although
there is a great deal of pressure on judges to grant ex parte removal applications, for some of the reasons discussed above,89 those pressures increase dramatically once the child is already in placement. Requiring judicial pre-authorization of emergency removals whenever possible is thus not a panacea but may prevent at least some unnecessary removals.

When judicial pre-authorization is sought, reasonable efforts should be made to allow the parents or their counsel to provide at least some informal input to the court (through letters, sworn oral or written statements, etc.). Obviously this might have to be arranged very quickly, depending upon the circumstances, and sometimes it might be altogether impossible. But there are other times – such as when an emergency removal is sought during the pendency of a neglect case in which there was no initial removal – when the parents are already before the court and represented by counsel, and giving the latter a limited opportunity to be heard on extremely short notice may be quite workable. Indeed, in such circumstances, failing to provide that opportunity seems both fundamentally unfair and bad policy.90

Once a child is removed, it is imperative that a meaningful temporary custody hearing be promptly convened. Such a hearing should begin no later than one week following the removal – just enough time for counsel for parents and children (who should appointed immediately when the case is filed in court) to prepare for trial.91 At this hearing, judges must be given enough information to make an informed and independent assessment of the threat to the child’s safety and the need for his or her immediate removal. This means providing sufficient staffing and courtroom space for trials to exceed one hour, and to continue on successive days, if necessary.92

It also means providing counsel for parents who cannot afford it at the earliest possible time, and paying those counsel reasonable fees, so that lawyers will have both the time and incentive to advocate vigorously for their clients. In order to sustain an emergency removal following a hearing, proof by no less than clear and convincing evidence should be required, that the child would be in imminent danger of serious bodily harm or death if returned home.93

Whenever judges rule on emergency removals, they should be required to expressly weigh the risks of non-removal against those of removal.94 Statutes might even specify the particular risks to be considered, including but not limited to the emotional trauma likely to result from separation, the risk that the child will experience multiple placements, and the heightened risk that the child will be abused or neglected in foster care. Decision-makers ought to be required to make specific, written findings as to why the risk of allowing the child to remain at home substantially outweighs the risks of removing him or her.95

All of these reforms, while helpful, would not address more fundamental, structural problems that cause tens of thousands of unnecessary removals every year. Although a full discussion of these is beyond the scope of this article, several worth mentioning include the rise of defensive social work;96 the perverse incentive structure of federal financial assistance,97 the
failure of the federal executive branch to enforce the requirement that states make “reasonable efforts” to obviate the need for removal in most cases;98 and the dual-role structure of modern CPS agencies.99

In addition, the proposed reforms do not address the prevailing attitude – among the general public as well as many CPS insiders – that emergency removal is a magic bullet in the battle against child abuse and neglect, a conservative, risk-free way of “erring on the side of safety.” As I have argued above, seizing a child catapults him or her into a legal world in which checks and balances operate poorly, and that is at least as likely to perpetuate an initial mistake as to correct it. Especially today, since the advent of ASFA, this may have devastating and permanent effects. Ultimately, public education must counter the distorted image of the child protection system fostered by the media’s statutorily-enabled obsession with fatality cases, and put an end to the dangerous misconception that emergency removal is a quick-fix to the problem of child maltreatment.

1 Clinical Professor, University of Connecticut School of Law. J.D., University of Connecticut School of Law; B.A., Wesleyan University. I am grateful to several colleagues, especially Jon Bauer and Martha Stone, for their thoughtful comments; to my research assistant, Jennifer Milici, for her valuable contributions; and to my wife, Brigid Donohue, for her incisive editorial suggestions, wise counsel and loving support. My interest in the topic of emergency removal I owe to a former client and a lawsuit I helped to bring on her behalf. See Pamela B. v. Ment, 244 Conn. 296, 709 A.2d 1089 (1998). Although the lawsuit led to structural reform, see infra n. 92, my colleagues and students at the University of Connecticut Legal Clinic and I were unable to help Pamela B. regain custody of her children, and her parental rights to them were eventually terminated. In a just universe, this lovely woman with mild mental retardation would not have been completely cut off from her three young boys, and they from her. This article is dedicated to Pamela B. and the other clients whose struggles and excruciating losses have taught me so much.

2 The federal Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997. See infra n. 75 and accompanying text.

3 CHILDREN’S BUREAU, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, CHILD MALTREATMENT 2001: REPORTS FROM THE STATES TO THE NATIONAL CHILD ABUSE AND NEGLECT DATA SYSTEM, Table 6.5, http://www.acf.dhhs.gov/programs/cb/publications/cm01/table6_5.htm (last visited June 9, 2003) (estimated 274,686 children removed from home due to suspected maltreatment in fiscal 2001). This number, moreover, probably represents an undercount. See id. Chapter 6, n. 4, http://www.acf.dhhs.gov/programs/cb/publications/cm01/chaptersix.htm#supple (last visited June 9, 2003).

4 See E.Z. v. Coler, 603 F.Supp. 1546 (N.D.Ill. 1985).

5 See, e.g., MASS. GEN. LAWS ch. 119, § 24 (2003); N.Y. FAM. CT. ACT § 1022 (McKinney 2003).

6 See, e.g., CAL. WELF. & INST. CODE § 305(a) (West 2003); 325 ILL. COMP. STAT. 5/5

7 See Akka Gordon, Taking Liberties, CITY LIMITS Monthly (Dec. 2000), at
http://www.citylimits.org/content/articles/articleView.cfm?articlenumber=665 (recollections of former New York City caseworker).

8 Sometimes the placements are not with complete strangers. As of 2001, 24% of all children in foster care were living with relatives (although some of them may have started out in non-relative placements). CHILDREN’S BUREAU, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, ADOPTION AND FOSTER CARE ANALYSIS AND REPORTING SYSTEM (AFCARS) REPORT NO. 8 (March 2003), http://www.acf.dhhs.gov/programs/cb/publications/afcars/report8.htm

9 Akka Gordon, Taking Liberties, CITY LIMITS MONTHLY (Dec. 2000), at http://www.citylimits.org/content/articles/articleView.cfm?articlenumber=665 (last visited June 9, 2003).

10 Ellen L. Bassuk, M.D., Linda F. Weinreb, M.D., Ree Dawson, Ph.D., Jennifer N. Perloff, M.P.A., John C. Buckner, Ph.D., Determinants of Behavior in Homeless and Low- Income Housed Preschool Children, 100 PEDIATRICS 92-100 (1997); see also JOSEPH GOLDSTEIN, ALBERT SOLNIT, SONJA GOLDSTEIN & ANNA FREUD, THE BEST INTERESTS OF THE CHILD: THE LEAST DETRIMENTAL ALTERNATIVE 19 (1996).

11 See Nicholson v. Williams, 203 F.Supp.2d 153, 199 (E.D.N.Y. 2002) (Weinstein, J.) (quoting expert testimony that removal in such circumstances may be “tantamount to pouring salt on an open wound”).

12 “[C]hildren have a built-in time sense based on the urgency of their instinctual and emotional needs. . . . Emotionally and intellectually, an infant or toddler cannot stretch her waiting more than a few days without feeling overwhelmed by the absence of her parents. . . . For children under the age of five years, an absence of parents for more than two months is intolerable. For the younger school-age child an absence of six months or more may be similarly experienced.” GOLDSTEIN, SOLNIT & FREUD, supra n. 10, at 41.

13 See Troxel v. Granville, 530 U.S. 57, 65 (2000); Santosky v. Kramer, 455 U.S. 745, 753 (1982); Parham v. J. R., 442 U.S. 584, 602 (1979); Quilloin v. Walcott, 434 U.S. 246, 255 (1978); Wisconsin v. Yoder, 406 U.S. 205, 232 (1972); Stanley v. Illinois, 405 U.S. 645, 651 (1972); Prince v. Massachusetts, 321 U.S. 158 (1944); Pierce v. Society of Sisters, 268 U.S. 510, 534-35 (1925); Meyer v. Nebraska, 262 U.S. 390, 399 (1923).

Anonymous said...

atement of Cynthia Huckelberry, Redlands, California, and Sushanna Khamis, Yucaipa, California

OVERVIEW OF NEGATIVE IMPACT RELATED TO THE CURRENT CHILD PROTECTIVE SERVICE PROGRAM/REVISED:

Child Protective Services was designed to protect children and aid families that are in need of assistance in order to maintain the family unit. Unfortunately, today we are finding that C.P.S is targeting specific families with limited set budgets, where child removal is commonly practiced for personal financial gain. The lack of compassion exhibited by C.P.S caseworkers towards the impoverished children that they serve, further devalues their lives in the eyes of these caseworkers. Thus indicating, that a lack of understanding and caring related to the circumstances of these financially challenged families, creates further dissention, prejudicing these C.P.S workers from the very people they serve.

Within this document, the information provided will serve as an insight into the true source of the problems that plagues C.P.S today. Also, it will provide possible solutions that may be utilized to best serve a new restructured Child Protective Service Agency.

HOW C.P.S LEGALLY REMOVES CHILDREN FORM PARENTAL CUSTODY

C.P.S systematically removes children from their families, whom do not meet the criteria for removal, through vague and ambiguous interpretation of their own codes and policy and procedures. They are able to operate in this manner by selecting specific target groups.

The target groups that C.P.S has tagged are the poor, disabled, elderly, and the undereducated. Parents/guardians unfamiliar with the law, with limited or no financial means to secure impartial unbiased legal representation, blindly trust the courts. Therefore Child Protective Service is able to manipulate the court system to secure foster care or adoption status of these children for profit.

Example: Each child placed in foster care has an annual value of $30,000.

More monies are available, up to $150,000 dollars per child, for those that meet the special needs criteria. After 24 months- during the concurrent foster care /adoption process, placement becomes final, where upon an $8,000 dollar bonus is dispersed to the county from the State. This bonus money is then divided amongst individuals that enabled the adoption process to be completed. This is not necessarily a positive solution for these children, but a personal financial gain to workers. Thus, this leads us to believe that some of the decisions made by C.P.S officials serve only as a means to enhance their personal budgets.

Upon removal, C.P.S creates a plan for reunification that is designed to promote the family’s failure. These case plans do not allow the families the time needed to comply nor do they have the financial resources needed to meet the court assigned criteria. Unbeknownst to the families, the courts, lawyers, and C.P.S workers falsely interject foster care criteria when family criteria should be utilized. Workers may also place long-term program demands on the parents that purposely overrun the 24-month time period.

This then allows the state to complete the adoption process to outside individuals.

In other cases, failure to protect –WIC 300b was cited to obtain removal of the children, when the custodial parents acted protectively, in accordance to the law, after a crime was committed against one of their children. Currently all children from these cases remain in “protective custody” under the authority of C.P.S.

FAMILY COURT CUSTODY REMOVAL - PARENT ALIENATION SYNDROME

Let it be known, that Family Court officials regularly remove custody of children from one parent to another (usually mother to father), citing parent alienation syndrome. C.P.S agrees to serve as the tool to enable custody transfer, a corrupt process observed by the FBI. Where, in truth, caseworkers are never allowed to testify in family court under the cloak of C.P.S authority, due to possible misuse or conflict of interest related to the right to privacy laws. FBI Agent/Lawyer Brenda Atkinson- San Francisco can verify this information by calling her at (415) 553-7400.

Child Protective Service also submits false documentation so as to provide a supportive basis necessary to substantiate their decisions. Thus the truth is purposely obstructed altered or omitted to justify case plans.

In many cases, C.P.S has failed to investigate additional outside reports from various professionals and agencies such as children’s physicians, police agencies, school system, etc.

WHY DOES CPS SYSTEMATICALLY REMOVE CHILDREN FROM THEIR FAMILIES AND PLACE THEM IN FOSTER CARE?

Since Clinton enacted the adoption and Safe Families act in 1997, this has lead to widespread corruption within the child Protective Services Agency and outlying neighboring agencies. By systematically removing children from predominantly poor families, C.P.S is able to secure foster care/ adoption status for these children with little or no parental encumbrance.

Thus C.P.S victimizes those families that have no means available, to properly investigate C.P.S corrupt activities directed at their family.

Since Federal and state matching funds generate the budget for C.P.S, the single means utilized to elevate the budget is to increase foster care and adoption caseloads.

Bonus incentives for adoptions are currently $8,000 per child. $4,000 is given to the foster parents and another $4,000 is placed in a general fund, to reward workers for completing their job duties. Workers in this county, state that they do not personally financially benefit from this fund. Thus it leads us to believe, that other neighboring agencies are benefiting form this fund, in return for deceptive practices that support C.P.S decisions.

BABY TRAFFICKING

False Allegations of drug abuse have been logged against mothers and their newborn infants as a means to place these infants into protective custody. The hospital staff has allowed C.P.S to remove infants (a hospital violation) prior to verification of blood and urine drug screen tests. C.P.S is mandated to secure verification of drug allegations via blood and urine results, prior to removing the newborn infant from the hospital. All cases known to us resulted negative for the mother and the newborn, but these infants were never returned, and were adopted outside of kinship.

In the past year, the FBI has arrested and imprisoned C.P.S workers who were actively involved in baby trafficking for profit. These C.P.S workers knowingly abducted infants from the hospital where they in turn networked them into legal adoption agencies. Augustus Fennerty, FBI director for Crimes against Children (Washington D.C) can verify this information. (202) 324-3000

CHILD SEX TRADE INDUSTRY

Southern California FBI District has videotape recorded CPS workers placing foster care children onto planes via LAX, destination Europe for child sex trade industry. This can be verified through Ted Gunderson, (retired) FBI Director Southern California (310) 477-6565.

SEXUAL VICTIMIZATION IN FOSTER CARE

For the families in relation to our group in San BernardinoCounty, it has come to our attention while comparing similarities, that approximately half the children in foster care have been molested.

These children were not sexually abused by their parents, but by the foster fathers or others in the foster home. It was also noted that these foster homes are still operating in the same capacity prior to complaints, without any investigation into these allegations. C.P.S officials were made aware of these accusations by the children, but failed to follow through with a criminal investigation.

In conclusion, Child Protective Service is nothing more than an “oasis’’ for child molesters, to make a profit, while at the same time committing a crime, only to be protected by a malignant system that delivers a never ending supply of victims

SYSTEMATIC FRAUDULENT MANEUVERS UTILIZED TO ENHANCE C.P.S BUDGET

* C.P.S manufactures multiple nonexistent /fictitious abuse case scenarios to offset true statistical abuse case information.

* C.P.S concurrently processes these children from foster care to adoption, in order to obtain perverse monetary incentives in the form of bonuses.

* C.P.S provides a market to neighboring agencies and the courts (commissioners, psychologists, monitors, court mandated behavioral class instructors, court appointed legal counsel), in order for them to financially benefit from the foster care/adoption system.

* C.P.S victimizes innocent impoverished families, draws them into a corrupt system to utilize their children as pawns for commerce.

MALICIOUS OPERATIVE TECHNIQUES

* C.P.S is utilized by family court officials, as an adverse tool to extricate children from one parent to the other, with reference to “parent alienation syndrome”.

* Where, in truth, caseworkers are never allowed to testify in family court under the cloak of C.P.S authority, due to possible misuse or conflict of interest related to the right to privacy laws.

* C.P.S utilizes coercive measures to persuade parents to submit to statements of prior alleged abuse, when these actions were nonexistent. In other words, forcing desperate parents to “plea bargain” to a C.P.S fabricated crime, for the return of their children from foster care.

* C.P.S fabricates portions of investigations, where such duties have never been physically performed, to purposely mislead or direct a case.

* C.P.S knowingly abandons children into foster care, conscious of the fact that some foster care parents and or individuals in the home physically and sexually abuse the children in their protective custody.

* C.P.S intentionally fails to prosecute parents accused of child abuse, since in the majority of cases, no initial crime has been committed.

* C.P.S represents themselves in positive personas, by omitting, altering, and falsifying documents, so as to mislead the public and or government of their true actions as listed above. Thereby publicly grandstanding, displaying an inaccurate social martyrdom for the well being of children.

* C.P.S ignores crimes committed in foster care, such as the atrocious acts of unexplained deaths.

* C.P.S fails to question these individuals for their abusive conduct, whereby, if it were not a foster care parent, these individuals would be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

SHOULD CHILD PROTECTIVE SERVICE BE RESTRUCTURED?

The police should determine if a child has a true need for protection from his parents, since child abuse is a criminal offence. Thus, C.P.S should be incorporated with Crimes against Children Units that are currently located within police, sheriffs and FBI agencies.

The merging of the two would reduce the amount of false allegations reported, since complaints made to a police unit is a criminal offence. Also, the police have the training and resources needed to conduct a thorough investigation. This allows them to determine that if a crime has been committed that warrants the need for foster care.

A parent/guardian under the suspicion of the crime “Child Abuse” would meet the criteria for removal. This would activate the foster care system. Only then would the foster care system be utilized as a response to a possible or suspected crime.

Thus in turn, this would eliminate the unnecessary utilization of the foster care system that has been grossly misused in the past. Unwarranted victimization of children and their families would be greatly reduced and soaring costs would be contained. This would minimize the number of future cases that fall through the cracks and get lost in the system.

WHAT ROLE SHOULD THE SOCIAL WORKERS PLAY IN THE NEW CHILD PROTECTIVE SERVICE?

* All caseworkers must have a bachelor’s degree in social work from an accredited college.

* All states must create bachelor level licensing for social workers.

* All workers must have a current license to work within any state or county in the United States with reciprocity.

* All social workers must have a preceptor for at least three months prior to individual casework.

WHO SHOULD BE A MEMBER OF THE CHILD PROTECTIVE SERVICE TEAM WITHIN THE CRIMES AGAINST CHILDREN UNITS?

Other members from various agencies should be inclusive to this unit, since they bring their specific expertise to complete a proper investigation. It is our opinion that the following individuals who should comprise this team are as stated: Registered Nurse, School Principal, Detective, and Social Worker.

SHOULD AN OUTSIDE AGENCY SYSTEMATICALLY REVIEW THE CHILD PROTECTIVE SERVICE TEAM’S PERFORMANCE?

All agencies must have an outside quality control board that monitors case investigations on a random basis and when requested by the public. This Board must include members similar to the Child Protective Service team, with the addition of an individual from the public. No member may be employed more than three years, to maintain the integrity of the boards’ unbiased decisions.

SHOULD WE MAINTAIN A CHILD ABUSE INDEX LIST?

The child abuse index list shall be maintained only when an individual has been prosecuted and convicted by a court of law for a crime against a child. Today’s said list shall be destroyed, so as to prevent harm to those currently listed who have been accused of a crime against a child, but that have never been prosecuted or convicted. And, children should never be placed on any list that would categorize them in an adverse manner, such as this.

SHOULD THERE BE NEW RULES AND REGULATIONS RELATED TO FOSTER CARE?

There should be a limited number of children allowed to be placed in any single home under foster care, including adoption. No single family shall be allowed to adopt or provide foster care to more than two children at any time. The only exception shall be when siblings number more than two and are placed in the same single dwelling. This will eliminate the financial incentive for monetary gain related to housing foster children and adoptions.

Redlands, California 92373
Yucaipa, California 92399
July 12, 2004

U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515-0542

To our Honorable U.S. House of Representatives,

It is unfortunate that Child Protective Service officials have mislead the government into believing, that increased funding is necessary to solve the multitude of problems that encompass C.P.S. This agency is utilizing the funding issue as the scapegoat for their problems, when in actuality the workers themselves, the lack of their personal accountability, are the source of the problem. Further funding will not solve C.P.S’S current crisis, only the restructuring of this agency will provide a solution.

Sincerely,

Cynthia Huckelberry

Sushanna Khamis

WHY TO GO LIBS YOU BLEW IT.

Anonymous said...

Richard Gelles, dean of the University of Pennsylvania's School of Social Work, is the academic godfather of the American Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA) of 1997. He is a long-term advocate of expanding the powers of social services. His books include The Violent Home (1987) and The Book of David: How Preserving Families Can Cost Children's Lives (1996).

In this interview with the PBS program Frontline, he started with some responses disparaging families, then went into the surprisingly critical answers below, castigating mandatory reporting, inexperienced caseworkers, amateur psychology, caseworker bullying and investigations by social workers instead of police. The full interview is at PBS.

Q:


What is mandatory reporting?

A:


Mandatory reporting was designed to require a specific number of professionals who had frequent contact with children to report suspected cases of abuse or neglect or sexual abuse to a designated agency, which became the American child protective service system, so that a more detailed, thorough investigation could be done. ... Some states decided that well, kids come into contact with all kinds of people so we'll make every adult a mandated reporter. Other states made it a more confined list of people. ...

Q:


What has happened?

A:


Frankenstein. It's become a Frankenstein monster. ...

Because of mandatory reporting, we've developed a very cautious system that essentially says, "We will investigate the vast majority, if not nearly all, of the reports that come to us unless it's clearly outside of the law." And sometimes even if it's marginal to law, it'll be investigated.

So the front end of the system, the American child welfare system, is staffed and trained to do 3 million investigations a year, that yield 1 million substantiated cases of child abuse and neglect, that yield 500,000 cases that actually receive services. So 2.5 million contacts between the child welfare system and families are nothing more than investigations. But it's extraordinarily time-consuming; it's extraordinarily costly; it requires lots of technology, lots of training. Since resources are finite, it leaves very little energy, very little skill, very little money for the 500,000 cases that are left.

I am one of the outlaws. I believe, with a couple of other people, [that] the gate should not be so wide, [that] we were a little bit too aggressive in defining what is child abuse and neglect. Some things we define as abuse and neglect, quite frankly, we don't have services for. Even if we substantiate it, it's not like we have anything we can offer. And then we have this big wide gate and then we seal it or weld it open, and we let everything through it. No triage. We'll let triage happen after we invest 30 days, 45 days, 90 days in doing an investigation with all the collateral contacts and all of the medical contacts. The files get to be 24 inches wide, [and] for what? So that the case would be unsubstantiated, not receive services?

That was not the child welfare system that 35 years ago I envisioned and that 40 years ago Henry Kemp envisioned. We had a much narrower view of children and families that needed services. Mandatory reporting was designed not as the Child Welfare Worker Full Employment Act, but as a way of breaking down the reluctance of reporters to bring these kids to public attention. It really did become the Child Welfare Worker Full Employment Act because people aren't stupid. Social services agencies understood that the bigger the problem, the more staff they'd have. ...

There were 6,000 reports of child abuse [and] neglect in 1965. There were 3 million last year. ... Child protective agencies [used to be] 9-to-5 operations. They went out of business Saturday, Sunday, Memorial Day weekend, Labor Day weekend. Now they're 24-hour operations; they have cell phones, they have computers, they've got pagers, they have 800-numbers. The carrying capacity of the system expanded as the number of cases came in. Again, you could go to the legislature and say, "We got 100 percent increase in reports last year, so we need 100 percent more workers." Well the legislature would say, "We're not going to give you 100 more workers, but we'll give you 35." Well, that increased their carrying capacity, so they were able to take in more reports and more reports and more reports. ...

Q:


Is it a culture of "ratting" on your neighbors? Is that how people are brought into the system?

A:


Well, what I've observed is that the more heterogeneous the community, the more reporting you get. Communities that are all alike, that all have the same privilege or the same oppression, are less likely to report on their neighbors. But you should pardon the stereotype, a white elementary school teacher is going to be more likely to report out an African-American child who comes into his or her classroom poorly dressed, not having eaten, with bilateral abrasions on both sides of the forehead. An African-American daycare worker in a community church that's next door to the home is probably going to be less likely to do that.

Q:


What proportion of child welfare cases are classified as neglect vs. abuse?

A:


The reality is that half the cases that come in are neglect of one form or another. The kind of case that gets the most attention is sexual abuse. They constitute about 3 percent of the cases, and the significant physical abuse constitutes maybe 22-25 percent of the cases. The media cases are the rarer occurrences, the ones that people worry about. The typical case is a neglect case where that bright line doesn't exist. ... Is it OK to run out and go to work and leave your 8-year-old at home to watch your 4-year-old? How much vigilance can a mother be expected to provide over her boyfriend who lives with her that keeps her from being on welfare? That's the typical case. The typical case is a soft case. I think the public thinks a typical case is a handprint on the side of the face with the college ring embedded into the cheeks so that you know immediately who the perpetrator was. That's really unusual. ...

Q:


What problems do neglect cases pose?

A:


Neglect by definition [is an act] of omission. The difficulty is, is someone not caring for a child because they don't have the resources? Or because they have some constraint that's remediable -- impacted wisdom teeth, a health care problem that's not all that difficult to deal with? ... Or is this a deliberate act of omission?

There are many caregivers who have left their children home alone and isolated, wealthy communities who never come to the attention of the child welfare system, and they'll argue, "Well, I just ran down to get a pack of cigarettes." Do that in another setting, that act of omission becomes an act of neglect and it's investigated. Now, it's got a 55 percent chance of going nowhere, but that assumes the investigation itself is benign, and they're simply not. ...

Q:


What do you mean investigations aren't benign?

A:


Investigations are what I call the third lie. ... The third lie is, "I'm from the government and I'm here to help you." Investigations are not attempts by friendly visitors that come to the home and meet the caregivers' needs. They are coercive activities designed to detect or uncover an act that could be criminal or ... could result in the removal of a child from the home. They bring out with them a scarlet letter "A," or a scarlet letter "N" that says, "You have been charged with abuse" or "You have been charged with neglect."

Now, frankly, you can call me a lot of names and you can say I do a lot of bad things, but when you call me a bad parent, you've gone to the core of who I am. And even if you don't substantiate my case, you're going to change my self-image, you're going to change my self-esteem, you're going to change my relationship with the neighbors who may or may not have seen your car pull up. ...

Q:


Why shouldn't they investigate, though?

A:


Because they're also supposed to help. They're wearing two hats. They're bringing the velvet glove and the Billy club, and there's enough role conflict in the human service industry as it stands without having to add cop to it. So a number of us in this field have slowly come to the realization that if you get a police officer when you abuse your wife, if you get a police officer when neglect your 85-year-old mother, ... then you might as well get a police officer when the suspicion is that you've abused and neglected your child. They're going to be better at evidence-gathering, they're going to be trained in applying the legal parameters, and they're not there with any ambiguous hat that says, "Oh, by the way, I'm here to help you, but if you don't want to be helped I'm here to punish you."

Q:


So how does that dual-role impact child welfare agencies?

A:


How can you accept that the caseworker is there to help you when they wave the stick around that if you don't accept [their] help [they're] taking your children away? You've got one week, two weeks, three weeks, four weeks to get your act cleaned up or this is what [they're] going to do.

I know that in the principles that we teach our students in this school of social work -- which is to meet the client where they are, to use values, to understand that the change process is slow -- to then give them that level of coercion is going to undermine their capacity and ability to establish a relationship with the family such that the family will accept and engage in the service or helping activity. How can they not look at this worker as anything other than an agent of social control who is eye-balling them and about to hammer them in court and say, "I've watched this mother up close and she can't do X and Y and Z, and she refuses to admit that such-and-such happened to her child. Therefore, your honor, I recommend that the state take custody of the child."

It's simple. I mean, you can walk through any street in Philadelphia that has a high proportion of child welfare cases and ask them, "What does the Department of Human Services do in the city of Philadelphia?" And their answer is, "They take children away." It doesn't matter whether you're in Maine or Philadelphia or Washington or California. The vision of child protective services is [that] they take children away. Nobody is going to volunteer, "Oh, they're really nice. They come and help me control my anger and they got me off of drugs and they taught me some really valuable parenting skills." Nobody says that.

Q:


What about those types of services -- anger management, parenting skills, etc. -- that child welfare agencies can provide to families?

A:


The toolbox that the child protective service system has is pretty limited. Parenting classes being one of them, homemaking services, advocacy. But the toolbox is essentially set up to preserve families. ... You give a little boy a hammer, the whole world becomes a nail. Every problem, no matter how diverse or different, gets the same one-size-fits-all solution. Sixteen weeks intensive family preservation services, parenting classes, home visits, insight therapy, referral to drug treatment. It's a pretty standard package and it's given whether you're fighting with the worker and completely resisting the label that you've done anything wrong, or whether you say, "You're absolutely right. I did this." ... Both clients get the same services. Now, which one do you think the service might work for? ...

Q:


Can those types of services work when they're offered coercively? When they're required in order to get your kids back?

A:


Well, change is difficult to accomplish for any behavior. We could take any behavior off the rack -- our weight, our height, our exercise, our diet. You don't just wake up one morning and change. ... Secondly, you don't bring about change by layering on more and more and more and more. One of the least disseminated findings from evaluation research in the area of child welfare services is the more services you provide, the less likely they are to be effective. ... At a certain point, you so paralyze the family with [all of these services that] they're not capable of having any of those things be meaningful. ...

The second issue is when the change is not forthcoming, the worker immediately goes to the hammer and says, "Now, keep in mind that if you don't do what I want you to do, I'm taking your children away." ... The best you can hope for in that circumstance is ... compliance. "OK, I'll jump through your hoops for you, I'll go to your damn parenting class, I'll sit there for 16 weeks." But it's not going to change anybody. Compliance isn't change. Lots of families have become very good at complying with the wishes of welfare like agencies. But that doesn't mean they've changed and the proof is in the recidivism rate. The recidivism rate for children returned to homes that have complied ... is appallingly high. [It] can run to 35-40 percent.

Q:


Do you support those rehabilitation efforts?

A:


... I've gone as far as to say -- and it's an arcane answer to the question -- [let's] make Title IV-E, which is the largest federal allocation of funds to the states, a block grant. Rather than say you can only use it for the ambulance service at the bottom of the cliff -- foster care -- you can use it for any number of preventive services, secondary prevention services, or legal guardianship. ... The funding is so categorical that we don't have a diversity of services that we can offer. ... We got two things in [the] toolbox: either you take my ameliorative services or I put your child in out of home care. That's all I got. There's nothing else in there. And you're surprised that it doesn't work?

Q:


Talk a little about the average caseworker.

A:


... They are not social workers. They have not gone through an accredited professional degree program in social work. That means that by and large they have a liberal arts degree; some even have just an associate degree. They have 20-40 hours of training and then they get a caseload. They may or may not know anything about child development. They may or may not know anything about child abuse and neglect. They may or may not know anything about human violent behavior. ... They are paid no more than $35,000 by the best of jurisdictions and as little as $21,000 by the most frugal. And then they're sent out to make some of the most important decisions that government workers could possibly make. ... I've just read a deposition of a supervisor whose training was, "I went to cosmetology school and then I worked for 11 years as a secretary to the director. And when the director of our county office left, I became the director." ...

I mean, they really try to help. But ... they are young, they're inexperienced. ... And they often become amateur psychologists. ... You hear them using the language in a nonsensical fashion. ... It's just an awful system. Who in their right mind would have life and death in critical decisions made by well-meaning individuals with this level of training, this level of resources? ... Really terrible way to run a system. ...

Anonymous said...

Her name was Candace, a 10-year-old girl with long brown hair, a shy smile and a sprinkle of freckles across her nose.

She began life in a North Carolina backwater with a teen mom, a violent dad, and a birth certificate that said Candace Tiara Elmore. But no one is supposed to know about that.

When she was 5, she was plucked away by social services and given to a well-to-do nurse who wanted a child to love.

A new birth certificate, a new name: Candace Elizabeth Newmaker, born in the city of Durham, N.C., to a mother named Jeane.

Candace embraced the good times her new life brought. But there was trouble behind the doors of Jeane Newmaker's home.

Jeane tried everything for Candace — doctors, counselors, drugs. Finally, in April, she brought Candace west to Evergreen for two weeks of a controversial psychotherapy called rebirthing.

Therapists curled Candace into the fetal position inside a flannel sheet and pushed against her from all sides.

She gasped for air. She begged them to stop.


# Therapist has strong defenders, foes


She cried out that she was dying. They said go ahead.

And then she did.

Anonymous said...

When suspicion split up their family,the Dunsmores fought back

The state broke up their family. Reunited a year later, they overturned the judge's ruling - a rare victory. Now, the Utah Supreme Court weighs how courts should be.

By Brooke Adams
The Salt Lake Tribune
Brig and Lisa Dunsmore
Brig and Lisa Dunsmore read to their 2-year-old son and 4-year-old daughter in their Sugar House home. They briefly lost custody of their kids when abuse of the boy was alleged, but won them back. (Paul Fraughton/The Salt Lake Tribune )

He fussed the way little babies often do, perhaps because he was teething or had an ear infection. But when he began favoring his leg, his parents thought something might be seriously wrong.

After all, he'd had a flu shot a day earlier.

Brig Dunsmore bundled up his then 7-month-old son and took him to Primary Children's Medical Center in Salt Lake City.

So began a protracted legal struggle that would tear the Dunsmore family apart for nearly a year. It has triggered a rare reversal of a juvenile court abuse ruling and a potentially precedent-setting case now before the Utah Supreme Court.

At Primary, doctors discovered the baby's leg was broken and, when Brig couldn't explain how it happened, suspected he caused the injury. Suspicion grew when a later test showed what appeared to be a skull fracture.

Just like that, Brig Dunsmore, then a child welfare caseworker, found himself in the position of many of his clients: squaring off against a system that didn't believe him.

Looking back, the Dunsmores always begin the story on Nov. 13, 2002, the day Lisa Dunsmore and her mother were in the kitchen fixing lunch.

Lisa's mother placed the baby - names are not being used to make the children less identifiable - in a walker layered with blankets to prop him upright. The boy's leg twisted behind him and the grandmother pulled his foot down and through the leg hole as she pushed on his knee.

The baby shrieked.

"That is the only time I've ever heard him scream in a shrill scream," said Lisa, 31, a former nursery school teacher who became a stay-home mom in 2000 when the couple adopted the first of two children. "I went over, looked at him, calmed him down. He consoled quickly."
Read the Ruling
Opinion in Utah Court of Appeals Case No. 20030750-CA

Their son has always been an easy baby, despite being born prematurely at 28 weeks. Lisa attributed his fussiness over the next few days to an earache and began giving him regular doses of Tylenol. She took him to the pediatrician on Nov. 15 to have his ears checked and get him a flu shot.

On Saturday, Lisa and her mother went shopping while Brig willingly babysat. His job at the Utah Division of Child and Family Services had kept him away from home that week until after the kids were in bed.

That afternoon, Brig says he noticed the baby favoring his left leg. When Lisa got home, she observed it, too. They called a pediatric clinic and were reassured the shot was probably bothering the baby. Wrapped tightly in his blankets, though, he slept through the night.

On Sunday, the baby was still favoring the leg. Brig took him to be checked at Primary, while Lisa stayed home with their toddler.

The first doctor who examined the baby didn't see anything wrong. There were, as the appellate court would later point out, no welts, bruises or swelling.

The baby was "cheerful, interactive, alert," the appellate court would add, though he fussed when a second doctor vigorously moved his leg.

An X-ray solved the mystery: the baby's left femur was fractured just above the knee. Staff told Brig the baby would be kept overnight and, standard procedure, DCFS notified. Over the next 24 hours, the couple racked their memories for any event that might explain the break. "One thing that came to mind was that shrill scream in the walker," Lisa said, who then described the incident to Brig.

After a day of tests, Primary pediatrician Bruce Herman, with the Center for Safe and Healthy Families, asked the couple to explain the injury. They couldn't, but offered theories - perhaps their daughter had fallen on him, maybe it was the walker incident.

The couple says Herman then demonstrated his own theory: Sometime Saturday the baby's leg had been bent behind him and then slammed into a wall or floor, causing the bone to break completely and displace slightly.

Brig was livid at the accusation. Lisa cried. Herman told them they could not take the baby home, adding as he left the room, "I think he has a skull fracture," Brig recalls.

The baby was in the hospital three days and then released to his grandparents.

"It is such a feeling of powerlessness," said Brig, 31. "It was difficult for us to have a family, and in the blink of an eye these people were taking that from us."

By the time the trial began in March 2003, the Dunsmores' children - their daughter was considered a sibling at-risk - had been living with their grandparents for four months. The couple was allowed supervised visits. They had sold their condominium and moved in with Lisa's grandparents in order to hire a private attorney to represent them - a luxury most parents who wind up in juvenile court don't have. At work, Brig, who had been with the agency since 1999, was placed on administrative leave.

The trial was held on 13 days between March 21 and June 12. Through Herman and several colleagues, state attorneys told Juvenile Court Judge Olof A. Johansson the boy's leg had been bent back and then slammed into a hard surface.

Herman said he was "51/49 percent" sure his theory was right. The family's walker story was possible, but unlikely, he said. And there was no way Tylenol or tightly wrapping the baby masked pain for three days.

The parents, through a biomechanical engineer and pediatric orthopedist, argued the walker incident did explain the break. Also, as a premature baby, the child likely had weak bone structure, making him prone to fractures, a witness said.

The orthopedist said he had seen children "go days, even more than a week," with undetected fractures and use of Tylenol and the tight "burrito wrap" - an effective splint - increased odds the injury might be missed.

Philip Stanley, a pediatric radiologist at Children's Hospital, Los Angeles, testified the so-called skull fractures were sutures - still-forming skull coming together.

At various times, particularly early on, Lisa was told by the investigating caseworker and a Guardian ad Litem that if she left Brig or admitted he caused the injury, she could get the children back.

And as the trial proceeded, the couple says DCFS warned them time was running out; it was prepared to place the children, then still with grandparents, for adoption.

Johansson issued his decision in August: While the parents appeared loving, he found "clear and convincing" evidence that the injury was not an accident and had happened that Saturday while Brig babysat.

The judge said "unequivocal" testimony from Herman was persuasive, and he rejected both the "walker theory" and that "minimal doses of minor pain killers" masked the injury.

Brig, who had returned to work in March as a DCFS trainer, was told to resign or be fired from his job. He resigned; he found a new job in December as a support coordinator with the Division of Services for People with Disabilities.

In September 2003, after meeting all DCFS' requirements, custody of the children was returned to Lisa; restrictions for Brig were lifted two months later.

The Dunsmores believed the "clear and convincing evidence" standard had not been met and wanted Brig cleared. They sought review by the Utah Court of Appeals, which hears an average of 47 child welfare cases a year.

Since July 2000, the court has completely reversed decisions by juvenile judges only 12 times - as it did for the Dunsmores last July.

The appellate court found evidence presented at trial did not "clearly and convincingly" establish the cause of the injury or when it happened.

The three-judge panel flayed the case point-by-point (see box). They said the drawn-out trial might have made it difficult for the judge to recall the evidence. The judges noted Herman's "51/49 percentage" was "anything but unequivocal."

Also, one of Herman's colleagues gave a differing opinion as to how the fracture occurred and another thought the walker theory was possible, as did defense witnesses. Most significant, the court said, was the lack of any bruises or swelling that "almost always" accompany the sort of injury mechanism touted by the state.

The Attorney General's and Guardian ad Litem's offices have appealed this ruling to the Utah Supreme Court. They argue the appellate court failed to give deference to the juvenile court's findings and only looked at evidence favorable to the family.

Allowed to stand, the appellate court ruling might set a "dangerous precedent" for reviewing multi-day, fact-intensive trials and cases that rely on courtroom demonstrations, the state attorneys say. And it might require the state to establish how an injury was caused, not just that it wasn't accidental.

The Supreme Court has agreed to look at just one aspect of the case: Did the appellate court apply the correct standard of review in assessing the evidence?

Primary Children's declined to comment.

DCFS Director Richard Anderson agrees that "taken to the extreme," the appellate decision could make it "harder to prove abuse."

"The attorneys are saying, 'People might see it that way, so let's get a ruling on it,' " he said.

Whatever the Supreme Court rules will not affect the Dunsmore family, because DCFS has closed their case.

The couple says they are speaking out now in hopes the state and hospital will consider changes that give parents a better chance to defend themselves early on.

They suggest parents receive a "Miranda rights" statement when an investigation begins, and audio and/or video recordings be made and shared of all meetings at the hospital.

"I know a lot of good people who work in the AG's office, the Guardian ad Litem and DCFS," Brig said. "But it doesn't change the fact that they know at both ends of the spectrum they miss the boat a lot."

The family is, they said, still calculating the emotional toll of the past two years.

"What I'm finding out is it is something that stays with you," Lisa said. "It changes your whole life. I still have nightmares about it.

"Something is taken away from you. You lose a small piece of your soul."

Brig said the couple has changed the way they parent.

"All of a sudden we became hovering parents," he said. "We don't dare let them do anything because we are afraid they'll get hurt."

no one is the same after the CAS or CPS comes to call no one, do they understand the effect it has on the family, NO, is it better to error on the side of caution, ask this social worker and his wife, by the way the children where adopted, into the safe family. no one is immune. Just beware of childrens hospitals looking for abuse, its much easier to call child protection then really try and compentent, at the PRATICE of medicine.

Anonymous said...

Foster mom found guilty of abusing 2-year-old boy

By Mike McPhee
Denver Post Staff Writer
DenverPost.com

A Douglas County jury Thursday took one day to convict a Castle Rock foster mother of recklessly abusing her 2-year-old foster son, who suffered massive brain and head injuries nearly two years ago.

Tember Rector, 44, was found not guilty of a second count of child abuse involving a 7-year-old girl who broke her wrist seven months before the boy was injured.

Under the sentencing guidelines for child abuse, Rector faces a minimum prison sentence of 10 years and a maximum of 32 years, which will be determined by Douglas County District Judge Paul King on April 7. Rector remains free until sentencing but must post $50,000 bail by Monday. Her attorney, Joe Pickard, said they are considering an appeal.

"I believe the verdict was fair considering the evidence," said Deputy District Attorney Darren Vahle. "The doctors at Children's Hospital (who treated the boy and testified at the trial) were very persuasive. This did not happen the way she said it happened."

The six-day trial was based on circumstantial evidence because no one witnessed how the boy, Timothy Dodge Jr., was injured the evening of Feb. 2, 2004.

Vahle claimed Rector lost her temper and caused Timmy's injuries. But Rector testified that Timmy hurt himself when he fell into a nightstand while jumping on her bed. Emergency personnel airlifted the boy to Children's Hospital, where doctors cut one-third of his skull away to relieve pressure on his brain from swelling and bleeding.

Dr. Andrew Sirotnak, an expert on child abuse at Children's, testified that the boy's brain injuries were consistent with extreme force trauma, such as severe child abuse or falling from a high building.

Rector's attorney said the case was difficult.

"She said she did not injure the boy, and I believe her," he said. "It's too bad the judge doesn't have more discretion in this sentencing."

As for the girl, prosecutor Vahle said it was an understandable verdict because of the many stories the girl told the jury about how she broke her wrist. The girl, who is now 10 and living in her 15th foster home, told the jury a number of conflicting stories and couldn't remember which arm she broke.

She identified Rector in the courtroom and said, "She's the one who hurt me."

Pickard said the only direct testimony against his client came from the girl, yet the jury chose to exonerate Rector on that charge and convicted her on circumstantial evidence in the boy's case.




Source:
www.denverpost.com/news/ci_3442040

Here are some comments by the grandmother of the injured boy:

The SAME JUDGE oversaw the case of some children that were placed in that home a year before my grandchildren. My son and daughter-in-law called people, wrote letters, went to the media and did everything they could to get those kids out of that home because of all the bruises, cuts and scrapes. Social Services told them if they didn't stop ranting and raving about the care their children were getting, they would get a restraining order and they wouldn't be able to have any more visits. You will see from the articles that a 10-year old girl testified that Tember Rector pushed her down the stairs and broke her arm. Other children were injured, I have the arrest affidavit, and the documentation that goes with it, and I KNOW what happened in that home. They covered up for that woman at the cost of 12 children in a 2-year period of time, ALL of whom were removed from her home.

They took my son's kids because there were Light Bright pegs on the floor that they said were an immediate danger to the kids, and they took them and placed them in a home where there was a LOADED, unlocked gun in an unlocked drawer in the nightstand beside their bed. This woman claims she left my grandson on her bed watching t.v., got into the shower and heard a thud. Obviously there was overwhelming evidence that she did something horrible.

so they were removed because the toys on the floor/messy house, this is heard over and over again, seven of the family court lawyers I have spoken with, have all said the house must be spotless, but not TOO clean,
humm, when CAS comes the come looking for a reason to remove the child, this child may have slipped on a lite bright peg, but in foster care he had his head smashed in.

Anonymous said...

When Social Workers Come To Call

Yinka and Vanessa Fasinro's religious convictions led them to a vegetarian diet, breast-feeding, and skepticism about vaccinations for their baby. These same convictions also led social workers to their door -- who took their baby from them.

Angie Vineyard

Charlotte—For the past sixteen months, Shaday Fasinro has refused to sleep alone. Waking up in the middle of every night crying, the two-year-old is not scared of the dark. She is not fearful that a monster will raise its ugly head and snatch her from her bed. Instead, she is scared to death of being taken from her parents. Unlike most children her age, her fears are valid.

On Dec. 15, 2000, a band of social workers, accompanied by three to four police officers invaded Shaday’s home and took her away from her parents. The child wasn’t removed because her parents were drug addicts, alcoholics or child abusers. Yinka and Vanessa Fasinro weren’t even on welfare. Social workers took Shaday away because they weren’t satisfied with the child’s weight.

The Fasinros nightmare began after Shaday’s pediatrician expressed concerns that their nine-month-old baby hadn’t been gaining weight and had fallen beneath the fifth percentile of what was considered normal for her age. But Shaday wasn’t like other babies her age. Her father, a native of Ethiopia, was small in stature, and therefore her parents argued that Shaday’s size was ethnically related. The Fasinros are also vegetarians who wanted their baby to continue being breast-fed and they had religious convictions against vaccinations. Dr. Tara Lods suggested doing some tests at Shaday’s next checkup if she hadn’t gained any weight. Unhappy with the doctor’s report, the couple made another appointment, but decided later not to keep it and instead get a second opinion.

They took Shaday to another physician for a checkup. But since they didn’t keep their appointment with their first doctor, Lods, who had been practicing medicine for three years, contacted the Department of Youth and Family Services, or DYFS. By law, every physician, teacher or childcare worker is required to report cases of abuse or neglect.

“We see more things like neglect -- a chronic illness, the parents are not giving (the child) nutrition, or (they) continue to fail to show up at the doctor’s appointments,” said Lods, who would not discuss Shaday’s case because of patient confidentiality.

ENTER ‘PROTECTIVE SERVICES’

A month after Shaday’s first birthday, DYFS social worker Paula Thomas called the Fasinros, demanding to see the baby. Yinka rushed home from work and he and Vanessa answered all of Thomas’s questions while she searched their home and refrigerator. Thomas required the couple to take Shaday for a checkup, which they did 4 days later. Dr. Clarence Norris noted in his report that Shaday weighed 14 lbs. and “she is small for size but probably related to ethnic origin.”

Two days later, Thomas paid a second visit with another social worker, to explain the seriousness of Shaday’s condition. Panic-stricken, the couple began force-feeding their baby and took her back to Dr. Norris, who noted she had gained half a pound. Listing all the new foods she was eating, Norris again reported, “Small frame maybe related to ethnic origin.”

Thomas and Rosen paid a third visit days later, noting in their report: “The parents understand if Shaday loses weight or does not gain, further actions will be taken by our agency to ensure the safety of this child.” A December checkup was stipulated for Shaday, but her parents didn’t even wait that long. They paid a third visit in late November to Norris, who noted Shaday “appears to be developing normally.”

TAKEN IN THE NIGHT

On Dec. 15, 2000, social workers and police officers came into the couple’s home in the evening and took the terrified baby away.

“I just couldn’t believe it,” said Yinka. “I was in shock.”

Said Vanessa, “You know, this is America. You think you have rights.”

Shaday’s first stop was the emergency room, where she weighed in at 18 lbs. Even though she had gained 4 lbs. and met Thomas’s requirements, Shaday was still taken to a foster home.

Stunned, the couple struggled all weekend, not knowing what to do. Monday morning, they decided to call public officials.

“The first person that was on the list,” said Yinka, “was (County Commissioner) Becky Carney. When we called her, she said, ‘You know what? I believe you. I don’t understand why they did what they did and as soon as we hang up the phone, a couple of people are going to call you and my office is going to get on the case’.”

Carney remembers the call well.

“He was very upset and distraught as anyone would be,” she said. “I’m a mom. I’ve raised five children. I have grandchildren. This tugged at my heart. Christmas is a terrible time to lose your children under any circumstances.”

Elected officials are prohibited from getting involved in court cases, but they can provide constituents with information. Carney made a call to DSS Director Jake Jacobsen and to The Council For Children, a non-profit child advocacy group.

That same day, while Yinka and Vanessa were obtaining an attorney, more than one DSS official called the Fasinros and left messages on their machine. There was also a message from The Council for Children, that Shaday would be returned to them the following day.

A court-appointed attorney also called, but proved to be of little help. Fasinro recalls her offer.

“She said, ‘Mr. Fasinro, I’m looking here at these charges. You have about 13 different charges. If you had like three or four, we could probably work with that but we just need to come up with some type of (plea) bargain.”

The court tried to split the couple up so that Yinka and Vanessa could have their own separate attorney. But the Fasinros had obtained an attorney, who argued behind closed doors before Judge Resa Harris that they were entitled to joint representation.

“While that was going on…I caught bits and pieces of it,” said Fasinro, “I noticed that almost all the DSS workers were right by the door, listening also, wanting to know how the judge was going to rule on that.”

Fasinro suspected the court wanted him and his wife to have separate court-appointed attorneys “so they could have a link to what we were thinking, to what our strategy is.”

Harris ruled that the couple could have joint representation.

FACING CHARGES

DYFS leveled thirteen charges against the Fasinros. These same social workers, who expressed such concern for Shaday, misspelled her name numerous times throughout their reports and court documents as ‘Shardy’, ‘Sharday’ and ‘Baby Shady’.

Shaday was given back to her parents after the first court hearing, a rarity in juvenile cases, on the condition that the couple attend parenting classes, have an in-home nurse visit and see a court-approved nutritionist. Charges against the couple were dropped on twelve counts. However, the couple was found guilty of neglect.

“Parents ought to be free to provide nourishment to their children commiserate with their lifestyle…so long as it does not endanger the lives of their children,” said Pamela Hunter, their attorney. “Given the height and weight of the father and his ethnicity, the child’s growth pattern was commiserate with her genetic makeup.”

The parents were given only physical custody of Shaday. DYFS not only has legal custody of the child, but they are responsible for her placement and care until a final hearing on April 19.

“That’s what really scares us, the fact that they can just up and say termination of parental rights,” said Yinka, who grew more fearful when asked if Shaday would be present at the next hearing. “That really brings a red flag.”

The Fasinros have appealed the neglect charges and will travel to Raleigh in May, hoping to clear their name. They plan to sue DYFS but are waiting for the right time.

“We have to get through this first,” said Vanessa.

For all they’ve been through, Yinka knows that having physical custody of his little girl is more than other parents can hope for.

“It breaks my heart. I would get on the Internet and I would just read stories of people that really had it a whole lot worse than us and really don’t have an attorney to represent them. I think it’s just the grace of God that God gave us an attorney that would just help us. There’s a lot of families that are hurting big time.”

DSS officials would not speak about Shaday’s case.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps Dale , you can now do a bit more home work, and do a story, that may really help, a child and family.
This is the norm, I assure you.
I am a social worker, I left child protection, because its not at all what many think it is, a once creative writer, I now have to find peace with in, and forgiveness for the familys I too tore apart, with out cause.
To contact me you can do so by e-mailing Amanda Reed, I have been working on a book.

Anonymous said...

A Toronto Star report exposed serious flaws in Ontario's child-protection system. Some social workers say the simplistic coverage bring new risks to vunerable children



by Nancy Crane

"Getting Away with Murder--Of children" and "Missed Clues--Lost Lives" read the headlines in The Toronto Star a few weekends last spring. Inside the paper pictures of doe-eyed children stared up at readers, as if pleading for help. These children had been killed by those who were supposed to nurture them, and failed by the system that was supposed to protect them. Once again, brutal child abuse was on the front page. But many of the complex realities facing the child-protection system were missing from the coverage.

Nancy Andrews, 35, is one of the child-protection workers the reporters interviewed. She works in a field where the lives of society's most vulnerable children rely on careful thought and decisive action. Andrews is an intake supervisor with the Children's Aid Society of Metropolitan Toronto (CASMT). She believes that the children under the supervision of her staff have a story to tell, and that society needs to hear it. That's why she was willing to be interviewed

At the time, she had been an intake social worker for six years. The Star reporters spent about two days with Nancy, meeting some of her clients and talking with her about the frustrations and dilemmas of the job. Like many others in the child-protection system, she hoped the issue of child abuse and neglect was finally going to get more in-depth coverage than the usual "oh-my-God-someone-killed-a-baby" and "how-could-this-happen!?" stuff.

But when Andrews read The Toronto Star the morning of April 19, 1997, she was shaking with anger and hurt and almost in tears. There, on the front page, beneath the headline "Cry For the Children," the deck said, "They're fragile, desperately needy. Yet youngsters under the protection of Ontario's child-care system are likely to end up even more damaged, a Star investigation shows." This was the first article in a series called "Cry for the Children", by reporters Kevin Donovan and Moira Welsh. It helped the Star win a Michener award for meritorious public service in journalism.

"Cry for the Children" covered the children whom the Children's Aid Society fails in a way that the issue had rarely been covered before. The series ran front page, plus one or two full pages inside, on five Saturdays and Sundays between April 19 and June 21, 1997, and Welsh and Donovan wrote several other articles related to child protection. They provided background on how the children had lived and what professionals had contact with them, and analyzed patterns that appeared in the cases they studied. But their research was limited to children who had died in Ontario over a five-year period, and 200 Crown-wardship cases, drawn randomly from the QuickLaw database.

No other story by Donovan or Welsh has ever generated as many letters and phone calls. An entire page, headlined "Crying for the Children" ran in the Star's Insight section on April 26. Readers wrote in demanding abusive parents lose all rights to children, and that the system be made accountable for its errors. They were shocked by the detailed descriptions of the miserable lives these children had led, and were outraged that the CASs were allowing these tragedies to happen right under the noses of child-protection officials.

Those within Ontario's child-protection system had mixed reactions, however. Mention the series in the hallways of the North York office where Nancy Andrews works and a common response is, "Don't even get me started."

"When you're doing the best that you can within a system that is difficult, and you pick up a paper that basically says that a child is better off not having contact with you or your agency, the only word is devastating," says Andrews. But others were glad that the issue of child abuse was at least making it onto the front page and into the spotlight. Mary McConville, executive director of the Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies, has some concerns about the way the information was presented, but was "pleased to see that a major paper would devote so much time to the issue, and follow it through." The downside, McConville felt, was that "there was an attempt to position the Star as uncovering the problem, as if the Children's Aid Societies weren't doing anything."

The public only hears about the work that CASs do when there is a tragic failure. Child-welfare professionals like Andrews realize that there are some serious flaws in Ontario's child-protection system. They want the public to understand how the system works so that the public can help fix it. But by telling their stories through reporters, they lose control of the message. As a result, only one side of the child-protection storyÛthe bad news--makes the front page.

In the spring of 1996, Moira Welsh had just finished covering the end of the criminal trial of Lisa Olsen and Michael Podniewicz, who were convicted of second-degree murder in the death of their six-month-old daughter, Sara Nicole. Sara had succumbed to pneumonia after a short life of chronic neglect and abuse.

Welsh had been at the Star since 1991, and had worked as a general-assignment reporter and photographer at several newspapers across the country. She'd never done any long-term investigative projects before, but the Podniewicz trial left her wondering how many other children were living in the same conditions as Sara Podniewicz, and why Children's Aid wasn't doing more to protect them.

Kevin Donovan, 35, had recently finished another major project, as editor on the Star's award-winning series on spousal abuse. It tracked 133 cases through the court system and uncovered some serious flaws in the way these are prosecuted. Despite the fact that the two reporters had been at the same paper for nearly five years, they had never worked together. In fact, they had never really spoken much at all. Then one afternoon, before a going away get-together for a colleague, Donovan found himself at Welsh's desk, discussing stories they had recently covered. Later, at the get-together, Donovan recalls Welsh asking: "So what do you think about child abuse?" Both reporters were particularly interested in the subject because Welsh had a one-year-old son and Donovan's wife was eight months pregnant with their first child.

That question resulted in more than half a year of research. "The Star was really committed to this story, we had a lot of time to work on it," says Welsh. "They felt really strongly about it. The amount of time and the amount of play that was given to it was excellent and Dave Ellis, our editor, gave us a lot of freedom and respect to go out and do our work." Donovan and Welsh pored over court transcripts, followed child-protection workers around, worked with coroners, police officers and social workers across the province, and interviewed families involved with the child-protection system in order to piece together the stories behind the deaths of Kasandra Shepherd, Sara Podniewicz, Jennifer Kovalskyj England, Shanay Johnson, Tiffani Coville and many other children who had been killed in Ontario since 1991. They also examined the court transcripts of more than 200 Crown-wardship judgements (cases where the children were still alive) and the results of criminal trials involving child deaths. All of this information was plugged into three separate databases. The stories and statistics that the research produced shocked The Toronto Star's readers.

When Welsh and Donovan approached the Children's Aid Society of Metropolitan Toronto about the series, the agency was excited that a major newspaper was going to devote so much research time and space to the issue of child abuse and neglect. Staff there hoped that the series might provide a chance for the public to see the range of services CASs provide, from front-line child protection to foster care and supports for young adults who have grown up in the care of the Children's Aid Society. After some discussion with John McCullough, the manager of communications at the CASMT, and meetings with Bruce Rivers, the executive director, the agency invited Welsh and Donovan to spend time with workers in a range of services, so that they could see for themselves the pressures that child-protection workers deal with and the services that they provide. Donovan and Welsh were also talking to the Catholic Children's Aid Society and meeting intake and family service workers from different agencies.

It soon became apparent that the CASs and the reporters had very different agendas. Welsh and Donovan didn't meet with workers from foster care and other areas of the CASMT, because they were primarily interested in children who had died while under the protection of a CAS and with living children the system had failed to protect.

"A newborn baby is found in the trash, and suddenly there are hundreds of calls from reporters, we hold a news conference, it's in the headlines, and then the media go on to something else," complains Bruce Rivers. "There are a few journalists who are really committed to the issue, but short-term attention is more typical." The problem with one-shot coverage is that the public never gets to see the system as a whole. People rarely learn, for example, that CASs in Ontario receive $420 million in funding, with which they must provide services for about 107,000 families, including 150,000 children, about 21,000 of whom are being cared for outside of their homes. The public almost never hears that typical caseloads at the intake and family service levels are between 20 to 40 families per worker, or that each case involves all the children in the family, and includes phone calls and visits to the family, as well as doctors, teachers, day-care staff, other relatives, and anyone else who can provide information on a child's well-being. All of these factors affect a worker's ability to protect a child, but if the public never hears about these issues, external pressure on the government to make children a priority is badly weakened.

In fact, child abuse makes it into the headlines so rarely that headline writers don't know the terminology involved in child protection. The effects can be disastrous. On March 25, 1997, just before the series ran, an article by Donovan and Welsh carried the headline "Children's Death Rate 'High' in Care." The term "in care" actually means that a child has been removed from the family home and is being cared for by the Children's Aid Society. Donovan and Welsh's story was actually about the high number of children who had died even though their families were involved with a CAS. Donovan and Welsh didn't use the term anywhere in the story, but nonetheless, the headline writer's mistake was costly for many child protection workers. Nancy Andrews had just brought a child into foster care the night before that headline appeared, and the next day the child's mother called, crying, convinced that her child would be killed in foster care. After the series, Andrews said, "I had many people say to me: ÎI know what you guys are all about nowÛI read the papers. You guys don't know what you are doing.' That happened numerous times, from clients I was trying to work with. So their trust level went down, and so did our ability to work with them."

Many social workers were getting the same reaction. One worker was trying to bring a teenager into care and the teenager asked her: "Are you going to kill me? Social workers kill kids." Another worker was taking some children into court to ask that they remain in care, when a lawyer said to her that the children would be safer with their mother than with the CAS.

Social workers need the trust of the families they are working with, so they can help them find solutions to their problems with drug abuse, stress due to poor housing and economic situations, or a variety of other issues.

Deaths and Crown-wardship cases are only a fraction of the child-welfare story. The Ontario Incidence Study of Reported Child Abuse and Neglect, published in 1994 by Nicolas Trocme of the Centre for Applied Social Research at the University of Toronto, found that applications to child-welfare court were made in less than 10 percent of cases, and less than 0.3 percent of cases ended up going to trial. By contrast, Welsh and Donovan's database of living children included only those whose cases went to trial. And while any deaths are too many, the system as a whole was judged on a small percentage of the cases it handles. "There is merit in looking at such cases, but if the public ends up perceiving that the majority of typical cases is as serious as the cases that have led to a death or to a trial, then there is a risk that the public will put pressure on the Children's Aid Societies to move toward a more interventionist approach." says Trocme.

One of Nancy Andrews's former clients was willing to be interviewed by Welsh and Donovan. She had a terrible childhood, and had been introduced to drugs by her parents. She became a drug addict by the time when she was around 12, and ended up addicted to crack and heroin. But when she found out she was pregnant, she tried to get clean for the first time in her life. She entered a series of drug rehabilitation programs, but had two relapses. When her baby was born, he tested positive for cocaine, so Andrews went to the hospital and brought the baby into care. The mother was devastated but decided to work with Children's Aid to get her baby back. She went into a rehabilitation program, found 24-hour supportive housing where she and the baby could live, and travelled across the city every day to a visitation centre in Scarborough to learn parenting skills and to be with her baby. She submitted to random drug screenings and after about four months the baby was allowed to go home with her on the condition that Children's Aid would continue to monitor them.

Shortly before the baby was to be returned to his mother, Welsh and Donovan interviewed her. At one point during the interview, she looked down at her son and said: "You know, if I started using again, I'd call Children's Aid myself. How could I hurt him?" After about an hour and a half there were tears in everyone's eyes. But Welsh and Donovan decided not to use this woman's story in the series because they wanted people who would go on the record, so they could put names and faces to the people they wrote about, and this woman did not want her real name used.

When asked why the series had such detail on the tragedies, but only mentioned one "success story," Donovan says, "We did it this way because it was all we could do. I would love it if the Children's Aid Society would let me go in and look at all of their files. I believe it would be a lot worse than what we wrote. I think there is altogether too much confidentiality in the Children's Aid in this province, and that's one of their big problems."

There is a difficulty balancing the public's need to know how the child-protection system works, and consideration for the privacy of the CASs clients. Welsh and Donovan followed Andrews around for a few days, but they couldn't follow her inside clients' homes, since many of her visits are unannounced. When intake workers are first investigating a family, they often arrive on the doorstep without warning so that they can see the home as it really is, not how the family wants to present it to the CAS. Put yourself in the place of parents who open the door and find out that they are being investigated by the Children's Aid Society and may lose their children. Imagine finding out that a major newspaper wants to come inside as well.

Ontario's child-protection system has been put under the microscope recently. It is faced with a decision: open up to journalists and hope that the stories they produce will raise public awareness of child abuse and neglect, and the difficulties the child-welfare system is facing; or retreat from the past wounds the media have inflicted and allow the fate of thousands of desperately vulnerable children to fade out of the public's and the politicians' view. "I've spent an enormous amount of time talking to our workers, reminding them that we mustn't let the overriding negativity of some of the coverage [including the Star's] prevent them from wanting to spend time with the media," Bruce Rivers says.

On June 21, 1997, the last article in the series, headlined "How to Save the Children," appeared on the front page of the Star. It advocated a seven-step plan to fix Ontario's child-welfare system. None of the suggestions were new to child-welfare professionals. They had been saying the same things for years, but their reports and complaints had been ignored. Donovan and Welsh openly admit that all of the suggestions they printed were made by people within the system long before they appeared under their joint bylines. In fact, the Star's recommendations are almost identical to the recommendations of the final report of the Child Mortality Task Force.

The Child Mortality Task Force was formed in April of 1996, because the Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies and the chief coroner's office realized that they really didn't have any information or statistics on child mortality in Ontario. Each of Ontario's 55 CASs is required to report any "serious occurrences," including child deaths, but no records of these reports have been kept or statistics gathered. Welsh and Donovan say that the task force wasn't really doing anything until they approached deputy chief coroner Jim Cairns late in July with a list of questions about child mortality. They didn't hear anything until mid-September, when the task force held a press conference to announce that it was going to look at child mortality in terms of a list of questions, that to Donovan and Welsh, seemed very similar to their own list. There is a great deal of bitterness over who started what, but both the task force and the reporters agree that making sure the recommendations are put in place is more important than fighting over who started the process.

One of the recommendations made by both parties has been put in place. The Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies has adopted a risk-assessment tool to be used by all of the 55 Children's Aid Societies in the province. Another recommendation, that there be a province-wide database so that CASs can share information on parents who may move from one area to another, is being studied by the Ministry of Community and Social Services. The ministry has also announced that it is conducting its own review of the child-protection system. Mary McConville worries, however, that if the pressure is not kept up, the recommendations will not become legislation before the current provincial government's mandate is over. "These are complex projects, and we can't afford to let them slide off because some new political priority has come to the government's attention," she says.

Unlike other vulnerable groups in society, abused and neglected children do not have a voice. They can't vote, they can't lobby the government and they don't have any consumer clout. They need journalists to tell their stories. It is difficult to hear these stories without wanting someone to pay or to exact revenge for the loss of an innocent life. But we need to consider carefully the best interests of the children still living in the child-protection system before we call for sweeping changes based on the stories of the dead. As I leave Nancy Andrews's office, we are still discussing the role of journalists, and she says, "I don't think they realize how much power they have. I really don't."


OH I THINK THEY KNOW, as a matter of fact they live off the power and abuse of it.

Dale do a real story and you to could win awards. For the CAS and CCAS people do understand that the storys in the press are honest. No paper would allow it to be other wise.

Anonymous said...

Bruce Rivers and Mary, they need new jobs.And Bill 210 is not the answer. Get into the family courts, read Canada Court Watch, and listen to the familys that tell you they are abused by the system, not all are druggies drunks, and let there children out at night at age 12. Many are great parents, they may have made someone feel foolish, or advocated for their childern in dangerous times.

Anonymous said...

News & Observer (NC)

by Mandy Locke

March 16, 2006

Paddock -- a Johnston County mother accused of murdering Sean, her 4-year-old adopted son, and beating two other adopted children -- surfed the Internet, said her attorney, Michael Reece.

She found literature by an evangelical minister and his wife who recommended using plumbing supply lines to spank misbehaving children. Paddock ordered Michael and Debi Pearl's books and started spanking her adopted children as suggested. After Sean, the youngest of Paddock's six adopted children, died last month, his older sister and brother told investigators about Paddock's spankings.

NEW SAFE FAMILY?

Anonymous said...

Dead child's mom sought discipline tips
Lynn Paddock ordered books by a minister and his wife that recommended using pipe to spank kids

Sean Paddock died last month.


Statement by the director of Wake County Child Welfare Services on the death of Sean Paddock
Autopsy reveals child was tied
Tot is laid to rest amid questions
Dead boy's mother accused before
Mother charged in death of boy





A few years ago, Lynn Paddock sought Christian advice on how to discipline her growing brood of adopted children.

Paddock -- a Johnston County mother accused of murdering Sean, her 4-year-old adopted son, and beating two other adopted children -- surfed the Internet, said her attorney, Michael Reece. She found literature by an evangelical minister and his wife who recommended using plumbing supply lines to spank misbehaving children.

Paddock ordered Michael and Debi Pearl's books and started spanking her adopted children as suggested. After Sean, the youngest of Paddock's six adopted children, died last month, his older sister and brother told investigators about Paddock's spankings.

Sean's 9-year-old brother was beaten so badly he limped, a prosecutor said. Bruises marred Sean's backside, too, doctors found.

Sean died after being wrapped so tightly in blankets he suffocated. That, too, was a form of punishment, Johnston County Sheriff Steve Bizzell said.

The Pearls' advice from their Web site: A swift whack with the plastic tubing would sting but not bruise. Give 10 licks at a time, more if the child resists. Be careful about using it in front of others -- even at church; nosy neighbors might call social workers. Save hands for nurturing, not disciplining. Heed the warning, taken from Proverbs in the Old Testament, that sparing the rod will spoil the child.

Paddock and other moms in her rural Baptist church chatted about the Pearls' strategies for rearing obedient children, Reece said.

"I think she was trying to do the right thing by her children," he said.

Paddock, 45, faces a possible lifetime behind bars or execution if convicted of causing Sean's death.

Paddock seems to have carefully followed the Pearls' teachings. Investigators found 2-foot lengths of plumbing supply line in several rooms of her remote farmhouse.

The Pearls offer shopping advice on their Web site, www.nogreaterjoy.org: "You can buy them for under $1.00 at Home Depot or any hardware store. They come cheaper by the dozen and can be widely distributed in every room and vehicle. Just the high profile of their accessibility will keep the kids in line."

The Pearls' first book, "To Train Up a Child," has sold more than 400,000 copies since it was published in 1994, according to Mel Cohen, general manager of the Pearls' business, No Greater Joy Ministries. After the book came out, so many readers wrote in with questions that the Pearls started a newsletter. Every two months, Cohen said, the Pleasantville, Tenn.-based ministry mails more than 60,000 newsletters to parents around the world.

The Pearls declined to be interviewed. "They feel the material speaks for itself," Cohen said.

Christian evangelicals who, like the Pearls, teach the importance of corporal punishment have loyal followers. The results are tangible, said Dot Ehlers, executive director of a Smithfield nonprofit who teaches parenting skills to mothers and fathers referred to them by the Johnston County Department of Social Services. She said about a quarter of the 60 parents she instructs each week say their faith defends and encourages corporal punishment.

The Pearls' techniques helped Sandy Hicks, a mother in Texas who said she was desperate to restore peace in her home.

"Some people would rather spend an hour reasoning with a defiant 5-year-old instead of requiring the kid to behave and giving him a swat if he doesn't," said Hicks, who said she has used a peach-tree switch to spank her four children. "Some people are just queasy about swatting their kids."

The Pearls' teachings helped mobilize another group of Christian parents to speak out against such corporal punishment. The Web site Stoptherod.net rails against the Pearls' first book; the Web site's founders, Susan and Steve Lawrence of Virginia, say the book "reads like a child abuse manual." The Web site encourages parents to post critical reviews of the book on Amazon.com.

Some of the Pearls' defenders say you can't blame them for parents who take their advice to an unhealthy extreme.

Gena Suarez, publisher of a magazine for home-schooling parents that publishes advertisements for the Pearls' books, said their teachings are often inappropriately used to defend child abuse.

"[The Pearls] are talking about something that would fit in a purse," Suarez said. "The only way you can kill a child with that is by shoving it down his throat."

The Pearls acknowledge that discipline turns to abuse when the "child is broken in spirit, cowed and subdued ..."

The minister advises one mother on his Web site: "I always give myself one swat before I swat the child to remind myself how much force to exert. It stings the skin without bruising or damaging tissue. It's a real attention-getter."

This Minister should be shoot, you dont beat kids, and you dont spank them, it is child abuse. hit your wife and see what happens.
So why should anyone be allowed to beat a child. the children where all adopted into new for ever safe familys.
Bill 210 will make it easier to do so, and will help adopting parents with funds, ( how nice) why dont you give the money to the familys you stole the children from, for the legos all over the floor, and missing a forgetting to go the dentist.
Not only will the new so called safe family make money, but so will the agencys, and lawyers. Will it save children, it has not in the US. in fact more have died.
Children being torn from familys will have issues, that the child protectors caused by breaking the bonds of the biological familys.
Many people will not have the skill or love of the child to not maltreat them, when will they get it. How many more children have to die.

Anonymous said...

This is tragic. now I will sob my way to bed. Note the clean house, they do take children from messy homes, one was murdered weeks before Xmas in On. His mothers crime a messy house. She was a crown ward, of course they wanted her baby, someone should do this familys story. The Reids, and also the young girl who is charged with his murder, will she get a fair case? she is also in care. Her young life forever changed, the government should stay the heck out of child protection, This is going to cost billons one day in settlements, it already is, have they not learnt. This alone and many other such cases is cause for a young mom to flee to save her child from CAS,what else can they do, the risk is much greater in care, and is it that big of a crime for a young women to need social sevices , do we need to steal all the babys, to change the face of the welfare roles.Is this the answer of the UN line we must do something about children in poverty, have CAS remove them? It is it seems the answer to deflect blame on parents, when doctors cant connect dots far to often, but it will all come out in the wash on day.Until then, I hope someone else thinks hard before removing a child, is it really worth the risk to that child, look into there eyes, and listen to them breath, once you remove the child, they will never be the same, even if they do go home.Or worse the story below.





Sean Ford was found dead Sunday. His adoptive mother has been charged


SMITHFIELD -- Seven months before Lynn Marie Paddock adopted the 4-year-old boy she's charged with killing, Johnston County social workers went to her remote farmhouse to investigate allegations of child abuse, officials said Monday.

And weeks before she adopted Sean Ford from a Wake County foster home, his uncle told Wake Child Protective Services that the boy returned from a visit to Paddock's farmhouse with welts on his backside and legs, the uncle, Robert Ford Jr., said.

The adoption of Sean and his older brother and sister went through anyway.

"They begged me to keep them the day they were adopted," said Ford, who first cared for the children after they were taken from his brother. "All I could do was hold them and cry."

Ford said that Wake County Child Protective Services took Sean and his siblings in 2004 after the children's father went to prison for abusing the girl. The children's mother lost custody after she refused to leave their father, Ford and Ford's father said.

The children lived with Ford seven months before he gave them to the foster home while he tried to get his finances in order, he said Monday.

On July 22, the Johnston County Superior Court clerk's office approved Lynn and Johnny Paddock's request to adopt the children from the foster home.

On Sunday, Lynn Paddock, 45, found Sean lifeless in his bed. Prosecutors charged her with second-degree murder and also with abusing two of her other children. Johnston County sheriff's deputies say she had been hitting her adopted children with plastic plumbing pipes.

Authorities took four children from the Paddocks' house. The oldest two, one from Mr. Paddock's previous marriage, stayed with their father.

One child was injured so badly he was limping, Elisabeth Dresel, Johnston County assistant district attorney, said Monday. The children told deputies that their mother stashed PVC pipes throughout the home and often threatened them with the lengths, Sheriff Steve Bizzell said.

Johnston County Social Services workers went to the Paddocks' farmhouse on Grabtown Road on the outskirts of Smithfield in January 2005 to investigate child abuse allegations, said Andy Holland, the agency's attorney. He said the agency would release a summary of its dealings with the family this week.

On Monday morning, Mrs. Paddock stumbled into a crowded Johnston County Courthouse with leg shackles and a long brown braid skimming her back. She nodded answers to the judge's questions and didn't make eye contact with her husband. A judge set bail at $1 million and returned her to jail.

"She's devastated, too. This is a child she loved and adopted," said Michael Reece, a Smithfield lawyer appointed to represent her. "I don't think there's any evidence that she intentionally tried to kill the child."

The state medical examiner does not know exactly how Sean died. Bruises covered his skin when paramedics took his rigid body to Johnston Memorial Hospital on Sunday morning, Bizzell said.

No charges had been filed late Monday against Mr. Paddock. Bizzell said the investigation is continuing.

It took six weeks for the Paddocks to adopt Sean and his 8-year-old sister and 9-year-old brother last summer.

The children had been staying with Ford and his wife and their three children, then with a foster family while Ford and his wife saved for an adoption, Ford said.

Then, social workers told the Fords that a Johnston County couple wanted the children. "It all happened so quickly," Ford said.

Wake County Health and Human Services officials would not comment on the case Monday. They will release a summary of their involvement later this week, spokeswoman Jane Martin said.

Sandy Cook, executive director of the Greensboro-based Children's Home Society of North Carolina, said Monday that the private nonprofit agency helped the Paddocks adopt Sean. The agency often links children in government foster care with prospective parents.

Johnny Paddock, who runs a carpet-cleaning business, and Lynn Paddock, a homemaker, were rearing Mr. Paddock's daughter from a previous marriage. In 1996, the Paddocks adopted a girl, now 19; a few years later, they adopted a boy, now 15. Sheriff's deputies say they have one other adopted child.

Mrs. Paddock home-schooled the children. But this school year, she filed for permission to home-school only the 15-year-old and 19-year-old, a state Department of Public Instruction official said.

At the Paddocks' 12-acre farm, pens of goats clutter the sandy yard. Monday morning, dogs bellowed from the blue house and scratched at the door.

Edward Murphy, a neighbor, said the Paddocks kept to themselves and seemed to stay busy with their church. He never saw the girls without ankle-length skirts or dresses.

Sean's biological family learned of his death on television Sunday night. The family lost touch with the children after the adoption; state law prevented them from knowing the adoptive parents.

Ford said he packed a family scrapbook among the children's belongings.

Now, the family hopes they'll be allowed to bury Sean. They'll make sure that Paddock, his adopted name, is nowhere on the tombstone.

(Staff writer Jennifer Brevorka and news researchers Brooke Cain, Denise Jones and Lamara Williams-Hackett contributed to this report.)
Staff writer Mandy Locke can be reached at 829-8927 or mandy.locke@newsobserver.com

Anonymous said...

To the poster who suggested i SHOULD HAVE REPORTED THE FATHER before he killed his baby: Obviously you are a few bricks short of a full load. I said I heard it on the news. I dont even know what part of Ontario this father murdered his baby. Someone on this blog is keeping stats on foster children killed in foster homes--I felt in all fairness they ought to keep stats on children killed by their parents also.

Of course this blog is not about fairness. It is (for the most part) narrow-minded, paranoid people expressing their opinion.

Just because a "blogger" claims an article is intelligent does that make it intelligent?

Anonymous said...

If you're looking for paranoid, narrow-minded people expressing their opinions, you could find no better place to start than yourself.

To interpret the writers comments about predicting the father's actions to be literally directed at you suggests it is you who are paranoid, if not a few bricks short of a load.

Statistics on parents murdering their children have been posted several times - you intentionally ignore them in order to write misleading and mean-spirited comments.

You claim the blog is not about "fairness" then demean another reader's opinion about the quality of a newspaper article. That only shines a spotlight on your own unfairness, pettiness and intolerance.

The question you should ask yourself is why, against all evidence to the contrary, you continue to deny the truth so vehemently.

Anonymous said...

If anyone wonders why I'd bother to respond to the pro CAS poster, it's because readers who are new to the issues may give this person's opinions more credibility that they're worth. One reason CAS has gotten away with abuse for so long is that people believe their lies - why wouldn't they - governments, media, schools, police, etc. all promote CAS as valiant child-welfare guardians. But scratch beneath the surface of these platitudes enter a world of nightmares.

Ignore or confront? For the sake of those who don't know, I think it's better to challenge such people.

Anonymous said...

OMBUDSMAN ON BILL 210:
CAS review board not good enough: ombudsman
Last updated Mar 29 2006 09:02 AM EST
CBC News

The creation of a neutral third party to hear complaints against Ontario's 53 Children's Aid Societies does not go far enough, says the province's ombudsman.
An amendment to the Child and Family Services Act, which passed this week, will see the formation of an independent Child and Family Services Review Board.
But Ontario Ombudsman Andre Marin, who has jurisdiction over the board, says there is no change to how an actual investigation is carried out.
"We have a remote, third-hand ability to oversee a tribunal or agency of the government, which does not give us the ability to do a frontline investigation," said Marin.
Marin says the province missed an opportunity in not dealing with that part of the act.
But Children and Youth Services Minister Mary Anne Chambers said the creation of the new review board is more than adequate.
"It does not stop with the board of directors at a Children's Aid Society now, it goes well beyond that," Chambers said.

Anonymous said...

This blog is about making the CAS accountable - they are the one's responsible for Jeffrey Baldwin the innocent, sweet little boy in which this blog was created for. It was the CCAS of Toronto that orchestrated his death, and they have in turn orchestrated unfit, unsafe homes for many others. To the blogger that hates natural families why not join the baby brokers I am sure they would love another hater of real families to join them in the great hunt for innocent babies and children.

Anonymous said...

Good for Andre Marin in speaking out - he has been a real champion for CAS accountability. Andrea Horwath tried her best to slay the beast, but it is not an easy job for one person. I give her credit as well for her efforts into reining in the child abduction society. The NDP are to be praised for actually saying something about the CAS agencies - when the other parties with a few exceptions have been silent on the matter. Their silence allows the culprits to gain more power.

Anonymous said...

What is interesting is that when people post real articles about CAS abuse including dead and abused foster children those posters are seen as being paranoid by the blogger who hates natural families? I cannot fathom why such a person is on a blog to make the CAS responsible. It hardly makes sense. I do not feel that anyone is paranoid here. Many people have posted and most I would bet with real experience with the child abduction society.

Anonymous said...

OBVIOUSLY THE CAS IS A HUGE MESS - to the strange blogger that is questioning people who question the CAS is the Ombudsman paranoid too? I DON'T THINK SO!!!

Under Our WatchSubmissions of the OMBUDSMAN of ONTARIO to the Standing Committee on SocialPolicy, respecting Bill 210, the Child and Family Services Statute Law Amendment ActIntroductionI thank the Committee for making some room for me to present on Bill 210. Iunderstand that I have 30 minutes this evening. I intend to make a short presentation then answer your questions. As this committee knows full well, Bill 210 is not without its fair share of controversy. However, the objection that I bring for your consideration is one that has not been heard publicly and one which I believe I am duty bound to raise. In a nutshell, whereas other provinces have seen fit to provide independent oversight over their respective child protection agencies, the Ombudsman’s office has, in Ontario, an extremely narrow opening to investigate complaints about the services sought or received by the Children’s Aid Societies. That small window will close once this bill passes unless this committee makes its voice heard. If that small window closes, Ontario will have the dubious distinction of having solidified its position as being at the back of the oversight pack in Canada in ensuring that the most vulnerable of our children have an independent avenue of redress. The StakesWe all know who our most vulnerable citizens are – children at risk – children whose parents are unable or unwilling to care for them. The importance of ensuring thatwe succeed in rescuing and protecting these children and in helping their families cannot be overestimated. After all, our children are our future. Today’s children aretomorrow’s citizens – tomorrow’s parents, tomorrow’s workers, tomorrow’s governors. When today’s children are protected and given a sense of self-worth, they can take care of tomorrow. But when things go wrong, today’s children can become tomorrow’s burden. Worse, when things go wrong, today’s children can be today’s tragedies. When they are not given the effective support and protection that is their simple birthright as human beings, they are neglected, even abused. They are left unfed or unsupervised. At times they are beaten or sexually violated, or as in the horrifying case of Jeffrey Baldwin and his young sister, they can be denied their humanity entirely. And as that case also shows, these tragedies can happen under our watch.
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2The RealityFortunately Ontario is blessed with good citizens who are prepared to make the protection of children their life’s calling. There are 53 independent non-profit organizations in this Province, Children’s Aid Societies, staffed by dedicated people who try to pick up the pieces when our children are being failed. Their work could not be more important. The effectiveness of what they do could not be more urgent. But as is true of all humans, these societies sometimes fail, and the systems we have put in place to help them sometimes fail. When this happens families can be broken apart needlessly, orchildren can be deprived of stable foster-care, or adoptions can fail, or at times, children can suffer continued abuse, or even die as Jeffrey Baldwin did. Jeffrey slowly starved to death in 2002 at almost 6 years old. He was only 21pounds and stood only at 37 inches. Evidence now being called at the trial of his grandparents charged with 1st degree murder is that he was living in his own feces in his bedroom while his lungs were filled with pneumonia. He was “treated like a dog” and forced to eat in a corner and urinate and defecate on the floor. Sadly, according to media reports, the Catholic Children’s Aid Society of Toronto not only did not prevent this horrifying situation from happening, but facilitated it. This CAS gave custody of Jeffreyand three of his siblings to these two accused-murderers. One of the co-accused had beenconvicted years before with assault causing bodily harm in the death of her baby who suffered broken bones. If honourable members wonder how in God’s name the CAS, our child protection agency in Ontario, could ever facilitate providing custody to someone in thesecircumstances, you are not alone. We received a complaint in the last month about this case and asked to investigate. We had to turn it down. We have no jurisdiction over the CAS. If Jeffrey had had the good fortune of being born in any other province in Canada, lingering questions about the role or complicity of the CAS in the death of Jeffrey could be probed. Alas, in Ontario, we are forced to simply turn a blind eye and move on. Jeffrey’s case may be an extreme case but it is not a unique one. Children can die as 25-day-old baby Jordan did in 2001, when he starved to death while his 19-year-old mother was supposedly being supervised, because CAS workers assumed staff at a Community woman’s shelter would take care of things. It is never time to stop trying to improve things. It is never time to stop makingthe system and the people who administer it as good as they can be. The GoalLike any thinking citizen of this Province, I am therefore pleased to see many ofthe improvements to our child care practices being taken in the Child and Family Services Statute Law Amendment Act, things like increasing the flexibility of dispositions to meet the needs of each child, making the system friendlier for adopting parents, and the attempts to reduce the expense and acrimony of litigation by encouraging mediation.
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3But I did not come here simply to applaud the Act. I am here because the legislation will fail in reaching another of its underlying objectives – namely, strengthening the complaint procedure to provide higher standards of accountability for Children’s Aid Societies. Not only will Bill 210 fail to achieve this, it will make it worse. The ProblemCurrently, my office cannot accept complaints directly about Children’s Aid Societies, even though we receive hundreds of complaints annually. Last year wereceived 305. In the first six months of this fiscal year we received 94. Because of limits on our mandate we cannot address them. We have to tell affected individuals caught up in what are likely to be the most important events in their lives – struggles relating to thewelfare of children – that we cannot help. Other provincial Ombudsmen are not so limited. In 1991-92 in her Annual Report my predecessor lamented that “All provincial Ombudsman except for Ontario and Quebec have jurisdiction over Children’s Aid Societies or their equivalent.”Meanwhile, last year Nova Scotia passed amendments to increase the relevantjurisdiction of its Ombudsman. Quite evidently, there is no policy reason why my Office should not be dealingwith CAS complaints. Other provincial Ombudsmen do. Indeed, as long ago as 1986 a Canadian Ombudsman’s conference in Ottawa passed a resolution to give priority to the investigation of complaints made by or involving children. Our inability to consider CAS complaints is not because of any concrete policychoice, or because of concern that it would be unsuitable to have an Ombudsman helpachieve inexpensive and expeditious solutions to the litany of problems that arise. Ourinability is an accident of history. It is because Ontario is the only province in Canadawhere Children’s Aid Societies, although publicly funded and provincially monitored, developed as private institutions, and, like other provincial Ombudsman my Office generally oversees only government agents. At present this gives me only a sliver of responsibility to oversee what I will call “Directors’ reviews” that are undertaken under s.68(3) of the Child and Family Services Act. Directors’ reviews occur rarely, where the Ministry chooses to exercise its discretion to assign a Director to review a CAS decision. Since the Director is appointed by government I can examine the way he conducts the review, but not the underlying issue. The Failure of Bill 210 So what does Bill 210 do in an attempt to improve the handling of complaints?Not only is the Office of the Ombudsman of Ontario not taken advantage of, Bill 210 removes the jurisdiction of the Ombudsman of Ontario over Director’s decisions byabolishing Directors’ reviews under s.68(3). While other provinces are moving forward in lock step to give their citizens the benefits of an expeditious, inexpensive, informal
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4complaints procedure relating to some of the most important matters those citizens will face, we in Ontario are moving backwards. How then, can the Government present Bill 210 as legislation that will increase CAS accountability by improving the complaint procedures? We do not yet know the details because they will be housed in regulations. What we do know is that the Ombudsman of Ontario’s Office, provides the ingredients necessary for effective oversight, “expedition and informality” and “effectiveness.” Expedition and informalityAs Bill 210 recognizes with its call for increased mediation, not every problem requires formal adjudication. Most of the complaints we receive can be solved quicklyand inexpensively through timely intercession. Sometimes it happens because our impartiality enables us to see obvious solutions that the parties are too invested to see. At other times we serve as honest brokers. EffectivenessFor deeper and more intransigent problems, particularly when those problems are systemic, there must be investigation, and there must be credibility in reporting. The Ombudsman Act provides our Office with the tools needed to find the facts, including the statutory power to demand production and if necessary, compel testimony and conduct hearings, and we have the track record to employ reason and exercise moral suasion tosecure results. The SolutionAn elaborate statute has been crafted to make this Office effective at externaloversight. That statute is called the Ombudsman Act. This Office, which administers thatstatute, is not only in place, it is well-established. Giving the Ombudsman of Ontario jurisdiction to oversee the work of Children’s Aid Societies will provide the most expert, expeditious, informal and effective form of oversight possible. This is why mypredecessors have been calling for this power for more than twenty years. This can beachieved easily, without having to amend the Ombudsman Act and without setting anyprecedent as I already have some authority relating to private contractors operating under the Ministry of Correctional Services Act. The solution can be achieved by adding a single provision to the Child and Family Services Statute Law Amendment Act to give the Ontario Ombudsman authority over Children’s Aid Societies. I would propose that Bill 210 be amended by adding the following provision: Approved agencies designated as children’s aid societies under s.15(2) shall be deemed to be governmental organizations for the purposes of the Ombudsman Act.
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5In the end, this should be done for the most compelling of reasons – for the children and their families. If this power had been given when my predecessors called forit in an effort to correct a technical accident of history, much of the grief experienced bythe parents of disabled children told about in my Report, Between a Rock and a Hard Place may have been avoided. Those parents were forced to give their children up to Children’s Aid Societies in order to secure residential care they could not afford, and while the Societies were supportive in most cases, some of the bureaucrats they dealt with were insensitive to the realities of the situation, and subjected these families to humiliation and degradation, without apparent appreciation that they were dealing with loving, capable parents. And I wonder what kind of contribution we can make to improving the protection for the Jeffrey Baldwins and Baby Jordans of the world. The Province of Ontario provides over 1 billion dollars to fund child protection services through 53 independent Children’s Aid Societies yet fails to provide the checks and balances that would ensure that administrative decisions taken by these Societies, which have life and death impact on children in need, be exposed to independent investigation. If we as a Province want to discharge our deep moral and legal responsibility byusing private Children’s Aid Agencies to perform one of the most important functions of government, that is fine – for the most part those societies have acquitted themselves well and we are in their debt. We must, however, do what we can to make sure that theyoperate as effectively and as fairly as possible. They do the ground work, but in the end, the children of this province are our responsibility. Their wellbeing is under our watch. Tragically at times, we know that their very lives can be lost under our watch. We can never let that happen because we have not been watching effectively, nor can we permit families and adopting parents to suffer needlessly because we have developed an incomplete or ineffective oversight system. This Office was devised to improve the quality of decisions affecting the lives of Ontario’s citizens. This is my plea to make useof it where it is most required.

Anonymous said...

ONTARIO’S WATCHDOG · CHIEN DE GARDE DE L’ONTARIO




ATTN: NEWS EDITOR


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:


Proposed legislative changes fall short of extending independent oversight to Children’s Aid Societies


TORONTO, Ontario (February 14, 2006) – The Ministry of Children and Youth Services’ proposed amendments to Bill 210, the Child and Family Services Statute Law Amendment Act, fall far short of what is needed to ensure independent, third party, investigative oversight of Children’s Aid Societies, according to Ontario’s Ombudsman, André Marin.

In a letter sent to the Minister on Monday, the Ombudsman wrote: “The Ministry’s proposal falls far short of what the citizens of Ontario, in particular, children in need of protection, deserve.”

Mr. Marin, who has called on the legislature to extend Ombudsman oversight to Children’s Aid Societies, expressed concern and disappointment at the proposal which includes additional internal complaints mechanisms and expanding the mandate of the Child and Family Services Review Board.

“It’s a stop-gap measure, which does not go far enough,” said Mr. Marin. “All it does is add another layer of bureaucracy to internal processes. ”

The Ombudsman also pointed out that the Child and Family Services Review Board, which will operate under a limited jurisdiction, lacks both investigative powers and the power to address systemic issues affecting children and families. “You are talking about protecting our children. How many more cases like Jeffrey Baldwin will there be before the government wakes up and sees that we need stronger accountability, the kind that comes from having an independent watchdog with strong investigative powers?

“This proposed scheme still leaves us at the back of the oversight pack,” said Mr. Marin, referring to other provinces in Canada, which have independent oversight of child welfare matters. “I was hoping we would move forward, instead we’ve gone nowhere.”

Mr. Marin further noted that Ministry officials were unable to provide him with any answers as to why the proposal to bring Children’s Aid Societies under the umbrella of Ombudsman oversight was rejected. This is something which has received wide public support and which makes eminent sense. “What are they afraid of?” he said yesterday upon reviewing the Government’s proposed changes to Bill 210.


– 30 –

This press release is also available in French.


The Ombudsman is an officer of the Legislature and is independent of both the political process and government administration. Generally an office of last resort, the Ombudsman investigates and resolves complaints about provincial governmental organizations and recommends corrective action. Services are free and confidential. Other languages can be arranged. For further information, call 416-586-3300, TTY 1-866-411-4211 or visit our website: www.ombudsman.on.ca

For further information contact:
Gail Scala
Manager, Communications

Ombudsman Ontario
Tel: 416-586-3402
Email: gscala@ombudsman.on.ca





Backgrounder
Re: Independent Oversight of Children’s Aid Societies




Children’s Aid Societies do not come within the Ombudsman’s jurisdiction.


The Ombudsman received 436 submissions and complaints from January 1, 2005 to February 13, 2006 regarding the need for greater oversight and accountability of Children’s Aid Societies.


Types of complaints:


concern about care of children by CAS
concerns about dealings with CAS
denial of access to grandchilden
threat of removal of child
sexual abuse by CAS staff
concerns about CAS allegations
concern about child abuse register administration
refusal to disclose information
concerns about CAS removal of child
concerns about access and custody
Bill 210


Bill 210 provides an opportunity to enhance independent oversight of Children’s Aid Societies by extending the Ombudsman’s jurisdiction to complaints about Children’s Aid Societies.


The Ombudsman investigative process provides a credible accountability mechanism for the child protection system. Administrative conduct of Children’s Aid Societies has the potential for seriously and dramatically impacting the lives of Ontarians and it should be subject to independent investigation and systemic review of administrative practices.


The costs of implementing expanded jurisdiction of the Ombudsman in this area would be minimal, given that the infrastructure and experience already exists.
Other Jurisdictions


Five other provinces (Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia) have Ombudsman oversight of child welfare issues including child protection


In Alberta, the Ombudsman has jurisdiction to review the conduct of government officials who administer the child protection system in that province with the exception of First Nations child protection services.


In British Columbia, the Ombudsman has authority to investigate children’s services provided by the Ministry as well as services provided by private agencies.


In Manitoba, the Ombudsman can investigate children’s aid societies and other childcare agencies because of their responsibility to the Crown under The Child Welfare Act.


In New Brunswick, the Ombudsman has jurisdiction over child welfare issues, which are the responsibility of a department of provincial government.


In Nova Scotia, in accordance with s. 2(a) of the Ombudsman Act and the Designation of Agencies Regulations, child welfare agencies and child-caring facilities licensed under the Child and Family Services Act are within the Ombudsman’s jurisdiction. The Act was amended in May 2004 and new regulations approved by cabinet in December 2004 to provide the Ombudsman with clear jurisdiction over these bodies.



Saskatchewan, Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador have independent investigative oversight of child protection issues through separate offices:


In Saskatchewan, the Ombudsman has jurisdiction to consider complaints about the child protection system, which is administered through a government ministry. Generally, the Children’s Advocate, which is essentially a specialized Ombudsman, deals with issues affecting children. However, the Ombudsman does consider complaints relating to child services brought by others e.g. parents.


In Quebec, child protection services are provided through another oversight body with investigative authority.


In Newfoundland and Labrador the Child and Youth Advocate has investigative powers.

Anonymous said...

WHO SUPPORTED BILL 210 - PAT FENTON A SO CALLED "PRIVATE PRATITIONER" WHO IS THE HEAD OF THE ACO WHICH IS FORMED AND SUPPORTED BY FORMER CAS SUPERVISORS, LEGAL DEFENSE ATT0RNEYS AND AN ARMY OF INFERTILE, GAY (NOT THAT THERE IS ANYTHING WRONG WITH THAT) MOB.

AND THEN THERE WAS THE OACAS WITH DEAR OLD FORMER CHIEF LEGAL DEFENSE OF THE CCAS OF TORONTO WHO WROTE A SUBMISSION WHERE THE CAS HAS NO ACCOUNTABILITY PERIOD. THE VERY AGENCY RESPONSIBLE FOR JEFFREY - AN INNOCENT, SWEET CHILD WHO WAS MURDERED............

AND IDIOTS WONDER WHY PEOPLE ARE AFRAID - WELL THAT IS AS THE CHILD ABDUCTION SOCIETY WANTS YOUR CHILD -

what is the motive here? money, control and power - not to mention lies.

Anonymous said...

Think about it people they did not even have the "balls" to have a recorded vote? What does that say about the child abduction society, the private baby brokers, and legal defense experts? Might there be a REAL OFFENSE HERE. I think so... it is not over until the fate lady (baby broker) sings. Pardon the expression.

Anonymous said...

The rising use of emergency removal might be justified if it were necessary to protect children from imminent danger.21 In addition, a certain number of false positives (“type 2" errors in statistical terms) can be expected from any enforcement scheme. Yet the number of such errors that actually occur is alarmingly large. According to statistics published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), more than 100,000 children who were removed in 2001 – more than one in three – were later found not to have been maltreated at all.22 And that is only the tip of the iceberg. Because definitions of maltreatment are extremely broad and substantiation standards low,23 it can be reasonably assumed that a significant number of other children who are found maltreated, and for whom perhaps some intervention – short of removal – is warranted, are nonetheless removed on an emergency basis

And once removed the lies begin, why else would the CAS refuse to put there concerns in writting and send them to a lawyer? Why else would so many people find twisted allegations and so many lies , its the norm, they never write the TRUTH,

Who will help the family forever effect, the child now afraid of strangers police, and so much more.
So the are not accountable and not liable????
And not even members of the legislator are allowed into family courts,and it most causes the press as well, is this to protect children, GARBAGE, ITS ONLY to protect the agencies, NOT THE CHILDS RIGHT TO PRIVACY, HOW ELSE DO THEY EXPLAIN, PUTTING THEM ON THE NET FOR ADOPTION, USING FOSTER AND CROWN WARDS FOR MEDICAL EXPERIMENTS IN STUDIES, ( look it up its even done today and ethics depts have concerns) How many mothers are left with PTSD after an investigation, living in fear of CAS, MANY. if you are accused of the most heinous crimes, child abuse or neglect, and they question your anger over it,don't get it, how on earth did those people become social workers. To error on the side of caution, look at the numbers of children that error has harmed, try coming up with thousands of dollars within days, many have to sale their homes take out a second mortgage, to pay the legal fees, and it does not end till your bankrupt. This helps children. The system is based on lies.

Anonymous said...

Bravo to the last poster.
Very well said. The good people of Ontario are condoning the abuse of mothers and children.

In wanting to do this story the reporter is not too smart. No one will care about this infomercial for CAS. People with real integrity and skill need to do the story. This reporter does not cut it.

My friend, go back to journalism school. When you understand what your job is, come back.

Anonymous said...

In wake of Bill 210, the provincial government continues to clawback $200,000,000 from the National Child Benefit Supplement for Ontario's poorest children. Mary Anne Chambers says the government has other priorities (like Toronto transit) - an incredible thing for a person in her portfolio to say.

I'm wondering if any reader would know the relation between this pot intended for direct assistance to families and corresponding increases to CAS under Bill 210. I suspect the math will show the government is eroding the ability of many families to cope in favour of increasing CAS' incentive and ability to remove their children. Any information on this topic would be appreciated.

Anonymous said...

The reporter who wants to do a story on kinship care should start with the realization that CAS routinely removes children from their families for contrived and frivolous reasons and causes extreme emotional damage to children placing them with strangers, outside their own family environment.

It is common for CAS to lie and intentionally twist facts beyond any resemblance to the truth. This is done to gain legal custody. Allegations are mysteriously dropped while new ones arise without explanation. Social workers are completely unaccountable for fabricating malicious court actions. Once custody is gained (and it almost always is), CAS makes no effort to honour its assurances to the court - for example, children who were to have long-term care are shuffled from foster home to foster home. There, they experience serious abuse at rates that far exceed kids in the general population.

In short, CAS acts in the worst interests of children. They are anything but the child protectors that one can assume you think they from the intent of your article.

Like others that have commented on this site, I would urge you to research this topic thoroughly before you take any position. With CAS, you cannot accept a single statement as true. You should make that your starting point.

Anonymous said...

The PCs and NDPs capitulated to the ruling Liberals. There was not even a role call.

Where were the people who were supposed to be fighting for us?...They slinked away with their heads bent in shame.

We will remember their names and we will not allow the excuse that they were afraid. They do not deserve their place of honour.

Ontario children and parents will remember their cowardice.

Anonymous said...

Are we still on for a public rally on April 7, the date of the verdict? Let's do it.

Anonymous said...

To the poster that said "The reporter who wants to do a story on kinship care should start with the realization that CAS routinely removes children from their families for contrived and frivolous reasons and causes extreme emotional damage to children placing them with strangers, outside their own family environment."

This is so true, well said again. Ask those who were in the system how wonderful it was - then the horror stories will come out.

Anonymous said...

The entire problem with the system is the so called "homestudy". Pedophiles, child abusers and wacko's do not sit with the CAS and announce these things - they make themselves out to be perfect- the CAS buys this crap approves the home and no follow up is done. In Jeffrey's case they did a so called homestudy or an assessment of some description yet failed to check their own files. The homestudy is the bull's eye of a lot of abusive homes that children were sent into. But worse, these agencies convince society to not ever look if they have deemed the person as being safe. It is time for the public to question their entire process and everything about these agencies from start to finish - but more importantly it is better to prevent children from being in care in the first place.

Anonymous said...

To the poster on this blog bashing single mothers again that is a hateful sentiment that is used by those who "hunt" down other people's children. While it is true that children are often abused by a non-relative such as a boyfriend of a mother or someone else farming children to 2 strangers is not the answer. The answer is though in many cases empowering fathers to have more rights, joint custody and for the families of the child to be more involved if possible. Hating single mothers to the degree in which the poster appears to despise them is part of the reason that the CAS was and is so powerful. It was that type of hateful mindset that allowed them to hunt down babies and children on mass and to ship them all over the earth with no questions asked. Some of those children in the past were sent to foreign countries without a homestudy even being done. It is that type of stupid mentality that enables and empowers the CAS. We need to support single mothers and families in general. What is also interesting about this mindset is that it suggests that the strangers who will get the child will never divorce or part ways - and this itself is ridiculous. Many people who adopted divorced, and there are also single foster parents out there as well. Single motherhood is not the problem or the focus of this blog - once again it is about making the CAS RESPONSIBLE outbursts bashing single mothers does not contribute to this blog.

Anonymous said...

Like others that have commented on this site, I would urge you to research this topic thoroughly before you take any position. With CAS, you cannot accept a single statement as true. You should make that your starting point.

AGAIN THIS IS SO TRUE - the poster that said this is spot on. As these agencies are totally unaccountable that makes it that much easier to create fiction. The CAS is so good at lying on paper that it would make real fiction writers almost diminished in their vocations. The CAS is quite good at lying and manipulating the most basic of facts.

Take for instance their pathetic excuse of not having a "policy" to check the homes for kinship care - I don't believe them - I think that this argument was carefully crafted by their legal department regarding Jeffrey. I know someone who took custody of their grandson with another agency in Ontario and they went through a lot of screening. I think the CCAS was grasping at straws with this one.

Anonymous said...

Excellent point about adoptive parents getting divorced. For the purposes of the system, adoption is the golden land - a world of tranquility where life is lived happily ever after. No questions asked. Crazy, don't you think?

Anonymous said...

Yes, I do think that it is crazy. Adoption was not supposed to be about elite people with money hunting down babies and children - it was and is supposed to be about finding homes for children in real cases of child abuse where one cannot remain with their natural family. Instead it is an out of control witch hunt, with no mechanism of accountability what so ever. It has been sold to the public as a cure for child abuse, but it is not. The pedastal worship of adoption in our society is ridiculous as it does not give a child any rights - it gives those adopting rights. In foster care in Ontario it is the same problem the power is for the caregivers. The whole thing is a facade.

The cutbacks to services for families increases and accelerates adoptions - it is about money and priority. The other thing is there is a great motive here for this industry. Thanks to the environment more people are becoming infertile thus driving up the "market" of adoption. The market would not exist if this issue did not exist. Having the government work with a broker and people who wish to see this market explode in sales is not a good thing. It becomes an out of control train and an industry - but then again it already is. The issue that government needs to address is supporting families and not catering to the industry at hand.

Anonymous said...

Bill 210 glamorizes children losing their families as the government worked with an organization that glamorizes adoption. Meanwhile we have innocent parents who have lost their children to the system and who are fighting for their return - with some losing their homes to re-mortgage them for legal costs. It is insain all of it and more. Why can't these children be returned? Well really no reason but a client with money and power wants the child and the CAS will provide them. They have done this for years and years.

Anonymous said...

Although I'm not a scientist, there does seem to be a considerable spike in the number of couples that are unable to bear children. I'm sorry I hadn't clued in to environmental factors being a potential key. It would be great if anyone had firm statistics on trends in infertility. If significant numbers of people are unable to conceive, the issue of adoption can only become increasingly ominous.

Anonymous said...

Part of the problem with foster care and adoption is that we live in a culture of "entitlement" - people see themselves as having the "right" to another persons child. This is also why the CAS is powerful, as people empower them with this attitude. Children by their nature have fundamental rights to their families. Take Jeffrey's siblings for instance - why are these siblings in different homes? How can a system that alleges to be about children remove them from each other. It is seen as though the natural family is the enemy, and therefore they remove everyone from each other. Even in the case of Jeffrey's siblings there are obviously people that care about them who are related to them. These siblings should be in a home together, they should have access to people in their natural family that do care, and they should be supported to get through the nightmare of the loss of their brother Jeffrey. But the system does not focus on the child it has a focus on the "entitlement" attitude of others. The entitlement attitude is quite dangerous considering the numbers of those infertile - it has become a matter of people literally hunting down babies and children. What happens with this type of mindset is that as the focus is on the right's of those who want a child the child is left in the lurch. We need to shift attitudes in our society and make it important that children have the right to be with their natural families. Only in an actual case of child abuse should it even be considered that a child not be raised with their parents. Even in that case they should indeed look at kinship care.

In the example of Erika Klein we see how the greed of others has taken someone's baby.

http://www.mothersinexile.inetky.com/mystory.htm

This is why this entitlement attitude is so scary, in between the market that is driven and the CAS accountability it is a perfect road for abuse of power. I have friends who are infertile and they would not in this lifetime consider either hunting down or buying a baby. They will not adopt as they find it to be unethical and full of lies. It is. Beneath the evil adoption industry and the foster care industry there are without question real cases of child abuse though. The whole thing is a mess.

Anonymous said...

Although I'm not a scientist, there does seem to be a considerable spike in the number of couples that are unable to bear children. I'm sorry I hadn't clued in to environmental factors being a potential key. It would be great if anyone had firm statistics on trends in infertility. If significant numbers of people are unable to conceive, the issue of adoption can only become increasingly ominous.

THANKS - to the poster that said this it does become and it is ominous. I will try and find some stats on this. I gave this example as it is the very heart of why children are being taken - they are being taken to provide a market that is very powerful here. This is no different then it ever was. The government itself needs to address the causes of infertility particularily in environmental factors. Hunting down babies and children is certainly not a cure for those who are infertile, but the strange thing is that due to the manipulation of the CAS the ENTIRE focus is on these people. It is totally insain. Children do not wish to be removed from their natural families but the industry has silenced this issue making it all about the plight of strangers. Then the CAS comes along like the case of Matthew Reid and villifies the mother and family - the public buys this and thinks that the family is horrible and abusive - and hey isn't adoption and foster care wonderful to "save" the child from the family? It is quite a recipe and the problem is it works - well it does for those in which it serves. Furthermore, men as a whole need more rights but adoption cannot function if men have rights nor can foster care as much. The idea is to destroy the natural family once you have done that by a myriad of ways it leaves the hunters of children with no formidable opponent.

Anonymous said...

The other reason why the system has been so unaccountable is that the government liked adoption in the past as it was a cost saving measure. Rather then enforce legal rights such as child support, welfare etc.. it was a money saver for them. This is also why the industry was so powerful, and why it still is. They too have a motive to keep the wheels of this in motion. The cutbacks regarding chilcare, family benefits etc.. are absolutely part of this machine.

Anonymous said...

One day there will be a full legal inquiry into the mess of foster care and adoption, it will be only then that the full truth will come out. It will make Gomery look like Little House on the Prarie.

Anonymous said...

Here is where it gets interesting with the Ombudsman. In his report "Between a Rock and a Hard Place" the bottom line was that the CAS FORCED parents of autistic children into care while they severed their legal right to be their parent making the state the guardian. It is quite obvious from his investigation that this was all due to a matter of "priority" and not funding. This is in fact precisely the problem with the CAS - they are being funded with over 1.7 billion dollars annurally - yet the money is being dispersed to strangers, foster care providers and these agencies themselves. The answer is not unlike the answer in the Ombudsman's report - shift the priority we already have the funding and start actually helping the families. But that is where it gets more interesting as the real reason why the CAS is there is not to "protect" children it is indeed to find children for their clients. If anyone thinks this is not true spend some time talking with those who were in foster care and adopted as well as families who lost their children. The great witch hunt of the 50's and up was devastating. That it could happen again is truly terrifying.

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There was a poster on this site that mentioned that the CAS is making social ideals that are impossible for the average family to follow. It is a dictatorship where the "Cleaver" family mentality is used. They define anything outside of this strange citing of "risk" as being risk. Those who do not conform to their standards are the target, those that speak back are further assaulted by them - and while all of this is going on the real cases of child abuse fall through the cracks. They need to STOP the hunt of families with this risk crap model. Really until they are accountable though I cannot see it changing as much but they know we are watching very closely. More are joining to ensure that they are reined in from their web of deceit, coercion and irresponsibility.

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TO DALE ANNE FREED - I really hope that you watch the Fifth Estate and look at the precious face of Jeffrey Baldwin and then even attempt to write an article bashing kinship care - for heaven sake the CCAS sent this boy to that hell of a house where they murdered him, and they are JUST AS RESPONSIBLE FOR HIS DEATH.

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That anyone could defend the CCAS or any CAS agency while promoting the hatred of families is absolutely twisted. The CCAS of Toronto is responsible for many things that it took Jeffrey to be murdered for the public to get a glimpse into this agency is truly tragic. He suffered so much, he suffered so badly, it is heartbreaking. And what has the CCAS of Toronto done in response - NOTHING THEY HAVE ALLEGED THAT THIS HAPPENED DUE TO A LACK OF A POLICY, THEY HAVE TAKEN HIS SIBLINGS AWAY FROM EACH OTHER, THEY HAVE LOST 30 FILES IN AN ATTEMPT TO SAVE THEIR SORRY ASSES, AND THEY CONTINUE TO MARKET THEMSELVES AS BEING CHILD PROTECTORS? They should be on TRIAL - they are RESPONSIBLE FOR THIS AND MUCH, MUCH MORE.

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Jeffrey should NEVER HAVE BEEN GIVEN TO THE PIGS THAT KILLED HIM, but that does not erase the CCAS in this mess.

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The poster that hates single mothers, and families may be someone that is infertile who is jealous of others that can get pregnant. And think about it folks does it make sense to give children to someone that hates their parents so much? I don't think so and it is no wonder why there is so much abuse in foster care and adoption - the CAS routinely gives children to those that hate their parents then wonder why kids get killed and abused. The whole thing is quite sick.

I wonder if the poster that hates families supports the Conservative tax credit of $10,000 to give those who adopt money to buy a child as well? $10,000 could go a long way to the average family. That tax break came compliments of baby brokers and their potential clients under the Conservative MP Jay Hill.

Part of the recipe of the great industry is keep the hatred of natural families alive and well, remove any resources to help them, crucify them in every way and then sell their babies to the highest bidder for strangers. The Handmaid's Tale is a good book which is actually becoming a bit of a reality.

Why hate the poor so much? Here's an idea why don't we hate them so much that we totally obliterate their rights and farm their children around the globe for money and profit and call it "child protection" ... ooops we already did that though didn't we?

Anonymous said...

The right of men in this mess to their children is sadly lacking as well.

Anonymous said...

"we . . . farm their children around the globe for money and profit and call it "child protection"

I hadn't heard this idea expressed so lucidly before. It really conveys what a sham "child protection" really is. Thanks for the post.

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You're welcome, it is the total truth about the CAS and the entire industry.

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Peter Brieger
National Post


Saturday, March 25, 2006




Paul Blackwell is a "prowler" who deserves more than four years in prison for sexually assaulting teenaged boys under his care, one of the man's victims said yesterday.

"The guy is a bad person," the now 43-year-old man said. "He's a prowler. This sentence is a slap on the wrist."

The man, who cannot be identified, made the comments after Madame Justice Frances Kiteley sentenced Mr. Blackwell as part of plea agreement hashed out earlier this week.

Facing 22 counts of sex abuse involving five teenaged boys -- two of whom were foster kids placed in Mr. Blackwell's Scarborough home -- the 64-year-old agreed to plead guilty to one count of indecent assault and four counts of sexual assault. The abuse stretched for more than a decade, starting in the late seventies.

Mr. Blackwell sought out the plea just one day after his molestation trial began, during which a former foster child testified about sexual abuse he suffered at the hands of the father of three.

"It is clear that Mr. Blackwell abused his position of authority as a foster father to indecently assault [the victim]," Judge Kiteley said, reading from her six-page written decision. "[The victim's] evidence is very compelling."

Mr. Blackwell's sentence -- recommended by both the Crown prosecutor and the man's lawyer -- is in addition to the year and a half he has already served in prison, Judge Kiteley said.

She also pointed out Mr. Blackwell accepted responsibility for his "egregious" crimes, could undergo counselling in prison, and poses a low risk to reoffend because a prostate cancer operation has left him impotent.

Mr. Blackwell "accepted responsibility for his unlawful conduct, which was an important goal for the victims," Judge Kiteley said.

However, the 43-year-old foster child said he and the other victims -- two of whom sat in court yesterday -- were disappointed Mr. Blackwell did not say anything when asked if he wanted to address the court.

"I don't really feel as though he's owned up to [his crimes]," the man said. "He was a big part of my life, but he abused our friendship."

Fleeing an impoverished family with an "absent father," the then 15-year-old asked the Catholic Children's Aid Society to place him in a foster home. He was made to feel welcome in the Blackwell's home, Judge Kiteley said yesterday, but the older man soon began to fondle the boy and perform oral sex on him.

He also "frequently initiated attempts at anal intercourse," the judge said, adding that the boy did not rebuff Mr. Blackwell's "inappropriate behaviour for fear of being rejected and sent away."

Court heard that Mr. Blackwell was a "father figure" to the other teenagers, several of whom worked for his construction business.

One boy -- a 12-year-old at the time who was encouraged to call the man "dad" -- said he was given milk at night, which he thought was spiked with sleeping medication so Mr. Blackwell could assault him.

© National Post 2006

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ADOPTED children are so much like the family's they come from, you better not hate them, and many come with problems, you better be ready to deal with. FAC, and more. My adopted child sounds, looks, mannerisms, and wonderful spirited wilfulness, are so much like her natural moms, I love that women, how could I not,she gave birth to the child I love and am blessed to be raising. open adoption is the best gift you can give to a child. But first make every possible effort to keep the child with the natural mother, or within the family. It is the only thing that is really in a child's best interest.If we truly cared about children we would all respect that higher power, the god or goddess, that created us all, who gave us the right to judge? children don't belong to us, they belong in families. When I hear the government speak about OUR children, it makes me sick. They are not yours mine or ours, and when you truly understand that will you get out of the business of trafficking in them, Once you own something its yours to do at will with? people should and NEVER again be sold, sold into slavery now sold into adoption, the stigma will forever haunt this government in the days ahead.
the fact that anyone even passes such a law is immoral.

children do have rights and that right is to there families. The CAS will be held accountable one day, not until many have dies, and one day the very crimes committed today in the name of child prot. the children will again pay for, with taxes to settle the lawsuits that will be brought upon the governments for allowing it to go on and on, they are not asleep at the switch, they understand what's happening, and don't care. feed the monster children its a cash cow.

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To the adoptive mother that appreciates the connection to nature that is great, and also to prevent this from starting to begin with is also good. No one should ever hate adopted kids, or foster kids, or any kids. But the industry behind this is another thing. I like your comments it is good to know that someone does love their adopted child. Preventing adoption is a good goal though. Glad to see someone else disgusted with the fact that children were and are sold.

Anonymous said...

What I am concerned about is the misguided info the Minister is handing out, open adoptions, HOW open, a picture once a year, a note how open is left up to the adopting families, and unless they are truly ethical and will respect the natural bonds, and for many that's not easy, its the only thing that matters to the child, however if the adoption had to happened, find out why, who on earth could feel good about raising a child some mother is grieving for. NOT me and I have an adopted child,
I disagree with Bill 210, and removing children period, it should only be done in extreme cases , and most children are not in care because of that.
If we can afford to pay foster parents and the natural family is suffering in poverty, would it not make more sense for all to help the natural family.
Bill 210 will encourage babies being taken, and open,? how open. Children need to know there natural families, and not at 18, and not with a pic once a year, what harm is done by having a large extended family natural and adopted, that love and cherish the child, its not confusing its honest. But there are so few children that really need to be adopted, let the families work that out, CAS should stay out of it, they are profiting alright, I just saw them take a child living with his grandparents, ready to adopt him, but before that happened CAS made the baby a crown ward?????? the family court did not require it, and the got to keep all the money that was paid to them for foster care, even though he was not in foster care. Humm smells like fraud and should be investigated, there is a great deal of fraud in this industry and we are paying for it.Even the lawyer had concerns over this new level of rip off the tax payers in the name of child protection.

Anonymous said...

To the last poster well said! Open adoptions are NOT LEGALLY ENFORCEABLE IN ANY JURISDICTION IN NORTH AMERICA AND LIKELY THE WORLD. The only one's with power are the adopters once again. This is no different from closed adoption in that the child has no rights and the natural family does not either. Given that Minister Chambers is working with a private baby broker it is no suprise to see the manipulation in the bill itself of this issue. The majority of open adoptions do not work because of the adopters who flee after getting their product. Few actually care but then the irony is if they did care most would not have adopted to start with, they would have suppored the natural family.

Anonymous said...

The last posts are very well taken, although I can understand that some people considering adoption believe they are rescuing children from terrible situations. The fact that many people want to do good makes them easy prey for the lies of the child-welfare industry. Sites likes this are so important in making people more aware. It is very likely that the child you adopt is desperately wanted and was unfairly removed from their family. It would be wonderful if your words make someone considering adoption to reconsider their views. Glad to read your posts.

Anonymous said...

Thank you - and it may be that people do believe the CAS in public adoptions more so, and that they are mislead to some degree - however in private adoptions they know full well that they are hunting down a baby, and to me those who willingly do this are just as evil as those who sell babies. I hope that anyone considering adoption does know that the child is likely loved and wanted by their family.

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I read the article in the Toronto Star today by Dale Anne Freed and Nick Pron, and I must say that I think it was well done. It focused on the root of the problem, discussed the Ombudsman etc.. I am glad that the topic of kinship care changed focus to the real issues at hand. It should be a good enlightener for the public that this problem of the lack of CAS accountability must be changed if we have any hope for children or their futures. I credit the reporters for a solid article.

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