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Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Please see inside for Bill 210 Amendments posted. Thanks.

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

Child and Family Services Act
Loi sur les services à l’enfance et à la famille
ONTARIO REGULATION 206/00
Amended to O. Reg. 21/06
PROCEDURES, PRACTICES AND STANDARDS OF SERVICE FOR CHILD PROTECTION CASES
Notice of Currency:* This document is up to date.
*This notice is usually current to within two business days of accessing this document. For more current amendment information, see the Table of Regulations – Legislative History Overview.
This Regulation is made in English only.
PART I
GENERAL
1. In this Regulation,
“child” has the same meaning as in Part III of the Act;
“Child Protection Fast Track Information System” means the database containing information extracted from the records kept by societies respecting children and families with whom the society has had contact in connection with the society’s function under clause 15 (3) (a) of the Act;
“Risk Assessment Model” means the Ministry of Community and Social Services publication titled “Risk Assessment Model for Child Protection in Ontario” and dated March 2000. O. Reg. 206/00, s. 1.
2. Within 24 hours after receiving information that a child is or may be in need of protection, a society shall,
(a) record the information it received;
(b) rate the information it received in accordance with the rating criteria contained in the publication of the Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies titled “Ontario Child Welfare ELIGIBILITY SPECTRUM” and dated March 2000;
(c) record the rating made under clause (b) and the reasons for the rating;
(d) search the Child Protection Fast Track Information System for information that may be relevant in determining whether or not there are reasonable and probable grounds to believe that the child or any other child in the same family is in need of protection;
(e) record the information that may be relevant found under clause (d);
(f) decide, in accordance with the Risk Assessment Model, whether or not a full child protection investigation should be initiated with respect to the child and any other child in the same family;
(g) record the decision made under clause (f);
(h) if the decision made under clause (f) is that a full child protection investigation should be initiated,
(i) determine, in accordance with the Risk Assessment Model, the time within which a child protection worker should first meet with the child who is, or the children who are, the subject of the investigation, and
(ii) develop, in accordance with the Risk Assessment Model, a plan for carrying out the investigation; and
(i) record the determination made under subclause (h) (i) and the plan developed under subclause (h) (ii). O. Reg. 206/00, s. 2.
3. A society shall ensure that,
(a) when a child protection worker first meets with the child who is, or any of the children who are, the subject of a full child protection investigation, the worker conducts a safety assessment in accordance with the Risk Assessment Model and takes the actions that are immediately necessary to protect the child or children, as the case may be; and
(b) as soon as possible and no later than 24 hours after the first meeting referred to in clause (a), the worker records the safety assessment conducted under clause (a) and the actions, if any, the worker has taken under clause (a) to protect the child or children, as the case may be. O. Reg. 206/00, s. 3.
4. (1) After completing a full child protection investigation, a society shall,
(a) record the findings of the investigation;
(b) determine, in accordance with the Risk Assessment Model, whether or not there are reasonable and probable grounds to believe that the child who was, or any of the children who were, the subject of the investigation is in need of protection; and
(c) record the determination made under clause (b) and the reasons for it. O. Reg. 206/00, s. 4 (1).
(2) If the determination made by the society under clause (1) (b) is that there are reasonable and probable grounds to believe that the child who was, or any of the children who were, the subject of the investigation is in need of protection, the society shall,
(a) carry out, in accordance with the Risk Assessment Model, a risk assessment and an assessment of other child protection issues;
(b) develop and carry out, in accordance with the Risk Assessment Model, a plan for reducing the risk of future harm to the child who is, or the children who are, believed to be in need of protection; and
(c) record the assessments carried out under clause (a), the plan developed under clause (b) and the steps taken to implement the plan. O. Reg. 206/00, s. 4 (2).
(3) The society shall repeat the tasks it is required to perform under clauses (2) (a), (b) and (c) at least every six months until it determines, in accordance with the Risk Assessment Model, that the child is, or the children are, as the case may be, no longer eligible for child protection services. O. Reg. 206/00, s. 4 (3).
(4) When the society determines that the child is, or the children are, as the case may be, no longer eligible for child protection services, the society shall,
(a) review its most recent assessments under clause (2) (a) and its most recent plan under clause (2) (b); and
(b) record the review. O. Reg. 206/00, s. 4 (4).
PART II
FAMILY AND COMMUNITY PLACEMENT
5. (1) This Part applies where,
(a) a society has determined that a child is in need of protection and cannot be adequately protected if he or she remains with the person having charge of the child;
(b) the child,
(i) has received services from the society but has not been placed in the society’s care by an agreement under subsection 29 (1) or by an order made under clause 51 (2) (d), paragraph 2, 3 or 4 of subsection 57 (1) or subsection 65 (1) of the Act, or
(ii) has been placed in the society’s care and the agreement or order described in subclause (i) will be terminated; and
(c) the society proposes or is apprised of a plan to place the child in the care of a person who is a relative of the child or a member of the child’s extended family or community in any of the following situations:
(i) in the context of a court proceeding for a supervision order under clause 51 (2) (c), paragraph 1 or 4 of subsection 57 (1) or subsection 65 (1) of the Act,
(ii) in the context of a court proceeding for an order relating to the custody of the child, or
(iii) where the person having charge of the child agrees to the placement. O. Reg. 21/06, s. 2.
(2) If a society proposes or is apprised of a plan to place a child with a relative or member of his or her extended family or community before the placement occurs, the society shall follow the procedures set out in section 7. O. Reg. 21/06, s. 2.
(3) If a society is apprised of a plan to place a child with a relative or member of his or her extended family or community after the child has begun living with that person, the society shall follow the procedures set out in section 8. O. Reg. 21/06, s. 2.
6. If a society proposes or is apprised of a placement plan in the circumstances described in subsection 5 (1) and the plan relates to the placement of a child who is an Indian or native child, a child protection worker shall,
(a) use his or her best efforts to consult with the child’s band or native community respecting the placement of the child before beginning to follow the procedures set out in section 7 or 8; and
(b) if the consultation with the band or native community does not occur before the procedures set out in section 7 or 8 are begun, continue to use his or her best efforts to carry out the consultation after the procedures are begun. O. Reg. 21/06, s. 2.
7. (1) Before a child is placed in the care of a relative or member of the child’s extended family or community, the society shall conduct an evaluation of the proposed plan for the care of the child to determine whether the person is capable of providing the child with a safe home environment. O. Reg. 21/06, s. 2.
(2) In an evaluation under subsection (1), the society shall use its best efforts to ensure that all of the following procedures are completed:
1. A child protection worker shall obtain information,
i. as to the identity of every person who is 18 years of age or older and resides in the home in which the child will be placed, and
ii. as to the nature of the relationship between the child and every person referred to in subparagraph i.
2. A child protection worker shall meet with the proposed primary caregiver and conduct an interview of the caregiver.
3. A child protection worker shall meet in private with the child who will be placed and conduct an interview appropriate to the child’s age and developmental capacity.
4. A child protection worker or a person designated by the society shall conduct an assessment of the home environment, including an assessment of the physical aspects of the home.
5. A child protection worker shall conduct a review of the society’s record and files for information relating to any person who is 18 years of age or older and resides in the home in which the child will be placed. O. Reg. 21/06, s. 2.
(3) As soon as practicable but no later than 30 days after completing the evaluation under subsection (1), a child protection worker shall document the evaluation. O. Reg. 21/06, s. 2.
(4) After the child is placed in the care of a relative or member of the child’s extended family or community, the society shall use its best efforts to ensure that the following procedures and practices are followed:
1. Within seven days of being apprised that the placement has occurred, a child protection worker shall,
i. conduct a home visit to the home in which the child was placed,
ii. shall meet in private with the child and conduct an interview appropriate to the child’s age and developmental capacity, and
iii. contact every person who is 18 years of age or older and resides in the home in order to obtain the person’s consent to a criminal record check and to the disclosure of information by any children’s aid society or any child protection authority in a jurisdiction outside Ontario.
2. As soon as practicable but no later than seven days after the society obtains the consent requested of a person under subparagraph 1 iii, the society shall,
i. make a request to the appropriate authority in any jurisdiction in which the person has resided for a verification of the person’s criminal record, and
ii. if the person has resided in the past in an area outside of the society’s jurisdiction, make a request to any children’s aid society in Ontario or any child protection authority outside Ontario for any information or records they may have relating to the person.
3. As soon as practicable but no later than seven days after the information requested under paragraph 2 is received, the society shall review the information and document any decisions and actions it proposes to take with respect to the information.
4. Within 30 days of being apprised that the placement has occurred, a child protection worker shall,
i. conduct a second home visit to the home in which the child was placed,
ii. shall meet in private with the child and conduct an interview appropriate to the child’s age and developmental capacity,
iii. conduct an interview with the primary caregiver, and
iv. ensure that the placement plan relating to the child is reviewed by a children’s aid society’s supervisor. O. Reg. 21/06, s. 2.
(5) Within seven days of receiving a request for information from another society under subparagraph 2 ii of subsection (4), a society shall respond to the request and the response shall indicate whether or not any information relating to the person specified in the request exists in the society’s files or records. O. Reg. 21/06, s. 2.
8. (1) If a society is apprised of a plan to place a child with a relative or member of his or her extended family or community after the child has begun living with that person, the society shall,
(a) conduct an evaluation of the placement to determine whether the person is providing the child with a safe home environment and is capable of continuing to do so; and
(b) use its best efforts to ensure that the procedures set out in subsections (4), (5) and (6) are followed after the evaluation is complete. O. Reg. 21/06, s. 2.
(2) In an evaluation under clause (1) (a), the society shall use its best efforts to ensure that as soon as practicable but no later than seven days after a society is apprised of the fact that a child has been placed with a relative or member of his or her extended family or community,
(a) all of the procedures set out in subsection 7 (2), with necessary modifications, are completed; and
(b) a child protection worker shall contact every person who is 18 years of age or older and resides in the home in order to obtain the person’s consent to a criminal record check and to the disclosure of information by any children’s aid society or any child protection authority in a jurisdiction outside Ontario. O. Reg. 21/06, s. 2.
(3) As soon as practicable but no later than 30 days after completing the procedures for an evaluation under clause (2) (a), the child protection worker shall document the evaluation. O. Reg. 21/06, s. 2.
(4) As soon as practicable, but no later than seven days, after the society obtains the consent requested of a person under clause (2) (b), the society shall,
(a) make a request to the appropriate authority in any jurisdiction in which the person has resided for a verification of the person’s criminal record; and
(b) if the person has resided in the past in an area outside of the society’s jurisdiction, make a request to any children’s aid society in Ontario or any child protection authority outside Ontario for any information or records they may have relating to the person. O. Reg. 21/06, s. 2.
(5) As soon as practicable but no later than seven days after the information requested under subsection (4) is received, the society shall review the information and document any decisions and actions it proposes to take with respect to the information. O. Reg. 21/06, s. 2.
(6) Within 30 days of being apprised that the placement has occurred, a child protection worker shall follow the procedures set out in paragraph 4 of subsection 7 (4). O. Reg. 21/06, s. 2.
9. Within seven days of receiving a request for information from another society under clause 8 (4) (b), a society shall respond to the request and the response shall indicate whether or not any information relating to the person specified in the request exists in the society’s files or records. O. Reg. 21/06, s. 2.
10. If all of the procedures set out in this Part have not been followed with respect to a particular matter, a society shall document,
(a) the circumstances and reasons why specified procedures were not followed; and
(b) any additional steps that were taken with respect to the matter. O. Reg. 21/06, s. 2.
11. If a child is to be placed with a relative or member of his or her extended family or community and that person resides outside of the jurisdiction of the society involved with the child’s case,
(a) in the case of a relative or member of the child’s extended family or community who lives in another jurisdiction in Ontario, the society may refer the matter to the society in that jurisdiction so that it can carry out all or part of the procedures under this Part; and
(b) in the case of a relative or member of the child’s extended family or community who lives outside Ontario, the society may request the assistance of another child protection authority in that jurisdiction. O. Reg. 21/06, s. 2.

Jeffrey's Law said...

Thank you!

Anonymous said...

they have concerns in the UK about this same kind of Bill, and its abuse potential

Our legal system already provides fully for the welfare of adopted children once in this country, and noble Lords recently improved the position through the Adoption and Children Act 2002. However, in the past we have not given such attention to the procedures applying in respect of children adopted from abroad before they are brought into this country. Clauses 8 to 11 address that. They provide a statutory power for the temporary suspension of adoptions from a specified country that may be invoked where the Secretary of State has concerns about the adoption system in that country. The power is likely to be used only rarely in response to serious concerns such as evidence of child trafficking or of parents being paid or coerced to give up their children for adoption.

Anonymous said...

Roberts, a professor of law at Northwestern University, argues that ASFA is a wrong-headed assault on family preservation that goes far beyond its goal of ensuring children's safety and establishes "a preference for adoption as the means of reducing the exploding foster care population."

Anonymous said...

n a healthy democracy, those treated unfairly when accessing public services should be entitled to redress. And those who use public funds to provide public services should have their actions subject to the searchlight of public scrutiny. Oversight of this kind improves performance and diminishes the risk that citizens will become or remain frustrated with their own governments.

By and large, Ontarians are well served in this regard. The independent Office of the Ombudsman of Ontario, which I am privileged to administer, has been furnished with robust powers to perform effective oversight of the kind I describe. We review complaints, secure relevant information and, when necessary, conduct formal investigations that shine the sanitizing searchlight healthy democracy requires. Still, there remains a vast gap in oversight. My authority as Ombudsman is limited to oversight of provincial “government organizations,” even though more than half of the tax dollars spent in this Province is furnished to non-government organizations. These bodies - including municipalities, universities, schools, hospitals, Children’s Aid Societies (CAS), long-term care facilities, and some psychiatric units - perform vital statutory duties that belong to the provincial government yet are immune from the public scrutiny that my Office offers. Perhaps the best way to show the implications of this is to put a human face to it – little Jeffrey Baldwin comes to mind.

Savagely abused, six-year-old Jeffrey Baldwin starved to death in the hands of his CAS-appointed caregivers. It is now common knowledge that each of his caregivers, his grandparents, had been convicted of child abuse before Jeffrey and his siblings were put in their “care.” The rank negligence that enabled child-abusers to be given charge of these precious children was caused by a CAS policy of not conducting background checks on family members who agree to take in relatives, and by a deficient filing system. I am not suggesting that oversight by our Office would have saved Jeffrey Baldwin. It is nonetheless deeply troubling that there is no independent mechanism to review CASs to test the adequacy of their policies or the wisdom of their practices. I had



to turn down a complaint about the Baldwin case, even though the CAS performs a critical public function using provincial money. Nor can I respond when anguished parents complain, as they often do, about being treated unfairly by CASs. Nor can I do anything to improve the efficiency of these bodies to help ameliorate the kind of backlogs that have caused the collapse of Ottawa’s family court docket.

What is most baffling is that there is no functional basis for giving our Office vital oversight for services performed directly by the Government but none for services performed by non-governmental bodies using public funds to discharge government responsibilities. There is no logical reason, for example, why we can oversee community colleges but not universities. There is no rational explanation for why the Government of Ontario has given my Office authority to oversee the speed with which driver’s licences are issued, or the manners of the clerk at the Ontario Municipal Board, but not to review the way that we protect our children, house our mentally ill and infirm, treat our sick and their grieving families, or educate our young. My limited authority is not the result of some studied scheme that rationally limits the protection furnished to the people of Ontario. The limits are, in every case, either accidents of history or an unplanned casualty of decisions to download the delivery of governmental services.

That is why I am echoing the same request to the Government of Ontario that has been made persistently by my predecessors – rationalize the mandate of the Office of the Ombudsman of Ontario by extending its authority to all cases where organizations perform statutory functions using provincial money. The requests of my predecessors were simply ignored, save for one, which was rejected for the specious reasons of duplication, costs and delay. In fact, giving the Ombudsman of Ontario jurisdiction over these bodies will not cause duplication, as none of them is now subject to the kind of comprehensive, independent review we conduct. For obvious reasons, that they are each accountable to a Ministry, hardly equates to a check on government power. And while many of these bodies have complaints processes for judging themselves, or have narrow exposure to judicial review or lawsuits, or have community boards of well-intended citizens without investigative powers or oversight expertise, none is subject to external



review by an agency with comprehensive authority to get the facts. Take the Baldwin case. Courts had the authority to approve Jeffrey’s placement but had to do so without the facts CAS policies had denied them. Nor were the courts authorized to review those policies, had they known of them. As for the contract reviewer hired by the CAS board as part of its review, she failed to discover that the grandmother had been a paid CAS daycare provider in the early 1980’s because she was told to examine 1994 to 2002. External review ought not to be confined by internally developed terms. The hard fact is that there is no duplication of external review, only less effective and incomplete alternatives to it.

As for the costs and delay, ombudsmanry is the cheapest and quickest way for resolving complaints. It forestalls not only the expense but also the escalating acrimony and delay of litigation. Any reasoned cost-driven decision points to this Office. We have no start-up costs. Even our systemic investigations are cost-effective compared to the alternative; the City of Toronto’s inquiry into the MFP computer leasing scandal alone costs more than our annual budget. The only way that costs can rationally be used to deny the authority I am seeking is to come clean and say that it is too expensive to have an effective complaints procedure. This would not only be indefensible; it would prove to be false economy.

In truth, the real reason why the efforts by my predecessors to gain oversight of municipalities, school boards, hospitals, long-term care facilities, and Children’s Aid Societies failed is that few in government champion oversight, because along with oversight comes accountability. Nonetheless, there is reason to hope that, now, more than 30 years down the road, merit will overwhelm political instinct. After 15 years of lobbying, the Office of the Auditor General of Ontario was recently given authority to conduct “value-for-money” audits of private bodies that use government money to perform public services. The principle of providing independent oversight of these bodies has therefore been established. I would not begin to suggest that ensuring the efficient use of public money is unimportant. However, if protecting dollars was reason enough to extend oversight in this way, why not protect our most vulnerable citizens



from unfairness or even institutional failure when private agencies are making decisions centrally affecting their lives? There is no answer for that, other than for the Government of Ontario to do the right thing and become the champion of oversight by removing its arbitrary limits.



André Marin is the Ombudsman of Ontario and a former assistant Crown attorney who specialises in oversight.

Anonymous said...

Bravo to Andre Marin, for his intelligent, comprehensive post. It says it all. There is no reason, and it makes perfect sense fron any perspective to give the Ombudsman a very important role in CAS oversight. Without that role, another realm of decades of abuse of power will ensue. We are all paying for the CAS and various other institutions with tax dollars, that alone should warrant public accountability - but the fact that this pertains to the most vulnerable of our society should be reason above all, especially considering the death of Jeffrey Baldwin.

Anonymous said...

I appreciate the time taken apparently by Mr. Marin to post his excellent argument for Ombudsman oversight of private agencies performing vital statutory duties with public funds in the public's interest. I note Mr. Marin's identification of the areas which the Ombudsman has arbitrarily not been given oversight over. These areas really affect the most vulnerable of our society. It is appalling and shameful that Minister Chambers and Premier McGuinty can simply sit back and remain so smug as to oppose the Ombudsman's and opposition's requested legislative amendment for oversight. In my view this amounts to malfeasance on the part of our elected officials who will go down in the annals of history as having been champions only of their own selfish self-protective interests. It is disgusting and pathetic. I am hoping no one will ever make the mistake of voting for these persons again if they did so the first time. It is obvious that Mr. McGuinty's government is worse than any previously criticized government because its current position is completely hypocritcial to the platform that gullible citizens elected them on.

The fact of the matter is that it is a no-brainer. Other provinces have Ombudsman oversight of this most critical area. There is no valid reason we do not. No reason (rational or otherwise) for denying it was ever offered by the government in the debates on the legislation as reported in Hansard.

Why are the politicians of the richest province in Ontario with purported "international stature" allowing Ontario to lag behind the best standards and practices of the day which includes independent oversight of child protection services?

I also wish to make comment on the new regulation posted. I do not understand why the society is only to use its "best efforts" to ensure that procedures are to be completed. What does that mean? Does it depend on resource allocation, in a year where there are more investigations but not increased funding does that mean that best efforts will decrease as a result? I don't understand what kind of a standard this is.

Also, why is the consent for criminal background check of persons in a proposed home placement for child to be sought only after the child is already placed there? Further, what if no consent is given, there is nothing in the regulation that says there must be a denial of placement in that home as a result.

What about new people who come to the home after the original request for consent to criminal background check is made. Are they ignored because they weren't at home the first time?

What about the documentation of the evaluations and any failures to proceed as purportedly mandated, does this get reviewed by anyone? Why not make all the family history, financial and criminal checks be mandatorily before the court so that the court can have the benefit of all facts on which to make any order for placement - a society should not have the sole unfettered discretion to place child where ever it sees fit, even if it conducts an "evaluation".

Why are the society's records only to be checked for "information" relating to any person 18 years or older residing in the home in which the child is to be placed. What does "information" mean? Does that mean what kind of breakfast they like to eat in the morning?

Anonymous said...

Mr.Marin makes a cogent argument for oversight. When is McGuinty going to take heed to this huge outcry. May be we should copy him all our emails.

The Liberals have become as overbearing as the PC were in Ontario.

Dalton McGuinty as Premier and Marie Bountrogianni as Minister of Child and Youth Services both claimed in separate personal telephone interviews that they did not know what was going on in child welfare system nor did they have control over it.

I surmise that the child welfare system is analogous to a "black hole".... owned and operated by the Ontario Mafia and its leader Mr.Bruce Rivers.

Sad commentary for our provincial leadership. No one feels it their duty to intervene.

Kudos to Mr. Marin and Andrea Horwath for their bravery.

Anonymous said...

Boy adopted last month beaten to death
Associated Press, various newspapers across the U.S.A. and Canada, Monday, December 22, 2003
SCHAUMBURG , Illinois (AP) --A 6-year-old boy adopted from Russia only last month was beaten to death, and police charged his adoptive mother with murder.
Irma Pavlis admitted that she struck her son, Alex, on several occasions, police Lt. Dennis Carroll said.
Carroll said Pavlis, 32, called 911 Thursday afternoon to report that the boy was not breathing. He died Friday evening at Loyola University MedicalCenter in Maywood . The cause of death was blunt head trauma, the Cook County medical examiner's office said.
Authorities said Pavlis and her husband, Dino Pavlis, adopted Alex and a 5-year-old girl in Russia early last month. The girl, who apparently was unharmed, was placed in the custody of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.
Department spokesman Jill Manuel said the couple had arranged the adoptions privately, but did go to an agency to obtain the background study required in international adoptions. The study found no criminal background or history of child abuse, Manuel said.
Police said Dino Pavlis was at work at the time the child was injured and was not involved.
His employer, Grant DeNormandie, said the couple had been excited about the adoptions and had gone to Russiathree times to complete the process.
"This is something they've been looking forward to for a year," DeNormandie said. "Dino's wife spent over a year learning Russian so she could try and talk to them."
The children had no known behavioral problems, DeNormandie said.
Irma Pavlis remained in police custody awaiting a bond hearing Monday.


SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER
http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/187185_ariza20.html

Colombian's 'adoption' by priest too good to be true
An unwanted name, a life not of his choosing
Friday, August 20, 2004
By CLAUDIA ROWE
SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER REPORTER
For years, Ariel Ariza believed that his name was Ariel Mitchell. It was listed on his birth certificate, passport and the papers he filed to enroll at Highline Community College. But it was not a name Ariza ever embraced.
Every time he wrote "Mitchell," it reminded him of the day that the Rev. James Mitchell arrived in his rural mountain village in Colombia -- half a day's walk from the nearest road -- with offers of a way out of poverty, an escape from violence. And, he says, it reminded him of what happened afterward: five years of sexual abuse under the guise of a caring, adoptive father.
Ariza has detailed his charges in a lawsuit, filed in May against Mitchell and the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Seattle.
In 1982, Ariza badly needed help. He was 17 years old, and terrified. The priest's arrival in town coincided with his own homecoming from the hospital, where he'd been treated for a bullet wound to the chest. The guerrilla fighters who shot him had already killed his father and sister.
Although he had known the priest for less than a day, Mitchell's suggestion that Ariza leave home and enroll -- for free -- at the priest's school, El Camino, sounded like a godsend.
Almost immediately, Ariza said, Mitchell treated his newest student differently from the rest. At the school near Barbosa, a day's journey from home, he got special food and made private trips into town with the priest. Mitchell told him to consider himself a son, and within weeks, Ariza said, he was sleeping in the man's bed.
"There are so many things that come to your mind -- you don't know what is right and what is wrong," he said in an interview. "He was like my father."
About a year later, the priest offered to make it official.
"He said, 'I can adopt you and bring you to the United States,' " Ariza recalled. " 'You will be my son.' "
They traveled to the U.S. Consulate in Bogota -- to obtain adoption papers, Ariza thought, although what they got turned out to be merely a tourist visa. It was enough to get both men across the border and into California, where, Ariza said, the priest obtained a new birth certificate for him -- with a birth date showing the boy as 16, although he was actually two years older.
"He told me, 'This is the name you're going to be using -- Mitchell,' " Ariza recalled. "He told me the papers are going through, and you are my adopted son. He even gave me his name as my middle name, Ariel James Mitchell. But I was using a name that wasn't mine and claiming that I was born in the United States when I wasn't, so I had a bad feeling."
In 1984, they arrived at Mitchell's new assignment, St. John's Parish in Vancouver, Wash., where the priest had been specially hired to reach out to Spanish speakers. Another teenager from El Camino, whom Mitchell had also offered to adopt, was living there, too, Ariza said.
Together, the three set up house, the boys working in the priest's garden during the day and spending alternate nights in his bed, Ariza said.
"I was scared. First, he said he was going to be my father and take the role of my father, who had just been killed, then he was saying, 'I know you're scared but this is normal. This is what two men should do,'" Ariza said. "He'd threaten to send me back to Colombia if I disobeyed. That was the main threat."
The other boy, reached recently in Oregon, said the priest never harmed him.
Others at St. John's wondered about the new priest's unusual living arrangement. It didn't look right to the Rev. Michael O'Brien, the pastor, but when he learned about Ariza's past -- a father killed by guerillas, a boy rescued from poverty -- he put his misgivings about Mitchell aside.
"Because of the story that he'd actually adopted the boys and they'd come from situations where they were in danger for their lives, it seemed like a noble thing," O'Brien said.
O'Brien said he had a harder time ignoring signs of a drinking problem in Mitchell. He asked Ariza about it one afternoon as they strolled in a nearby park. What, exactly, went on in Mitchell's home, the elder priest asked. How were the boys getting on?
Ariza unloaded, telling all about the promised adoption that had never materialized and the nights of sexual abuse at El Camino. Ariza said he reported that the molestations continued at St. John's, although O'Brien recalls only allegations about Colombia.
O'Brien notified church authorities and, within weeks, Mitchell was summoned to Seattle, sent away for alcoholism treatment and, by 1987, had been removed from the archdiocese. Ariza never saw him again.
Ariza's attorney, Mary Fleck, believes that the church did too little, too late.
"The emphasis was to take care of the priest, not the child," she said. "There should have been supervision of this priest much earlier to find out what was he doing with the boys when he brought them here from another country. If they had looked into his behavior in Colombia, they would have known there were problems, and if they had paid attention to what was going on in Vancouver, they would have reacted a lot sooner."
Greg Magnoni, a spokesman for the Seattle Archdiocese, explained that Mitchell, who was ordained in Colombia, was operating here essentially as a freelancer and, as such, would have been subject to less rigorous oversight.
"He really was not one of ours, so there wouldn't be the same personnel record as there would be for one of our diocesan priests," Magnoni said. "We've made mistakes and apologized for those mistakes, but that's unfortunately not a sufficient response from the perspective of the victims. We recognize that."
Mitchell was gone from Ariza's life, but his problems were far from over. No one from the church helped him find a new place to live, he said, although a local family took him in. He supported himself with a series of odd jobs and eventually enrolled at Highline Community College in Des Moines.
Only years later, when attempting to transfer to the University of Washington, was Ariza contacted by federal immigration agents and informed that the papers he'd presented affirming his identity -- the ones that Mitchell had provided from California -- were falsified. His marriage to an American secured his status here in the early 1990s, but he continues to wrestle with questions of identity.
Mitchell has not responded to requests for comment.
Under the circumstances of his removal from ministry here, Magnoni said, the priest's prospects for serving in another diocese would be severely limited.
Nevertheless, a 2002 report in The Spokesman-Review in Spokane showed Mitchell in ceremonial garb, baptizing a Spanish-speaking family in his Pullman home. When informed last week, Spokane church officials reacted with surprise.
"He does not have any permission to function as a priest in the Diocese of Spokane," said Steven Dublinski, the vicar general there. "I know he's down in Pullman, but he does not function as a priest here in any way. We'll look into it."
Mitchell currently lives with two other young men from El Camino. Only one, Adelmo Leon, agreed to speak with a reporter, and he staunchly defended the priest.
In an interview, Leon recalled the day Father Mitchell arrived in his rural Colombian village, seven hours' walk from the nearest road, just as he had with Ariza. Throughout his nine subsequent years with the cleric -- beginning at age 16 -- Leon said, Mitchell had never made an inappropriate move. Ariza's sexual abuse charges are baseless, he insists.
"I'm 100 percent sure of it," he said. "I've been living with Father Mitchell since 1996, and I know him very well. He is doing such good things for so many people."
The priest's presence undoubtedly has been life-changing for Leon. Mitchell helped his student win a scholarship to Washington State University and put Leon up in his spacious home, where wall-to-wall carpeting pads his every footstep. On a recent Friday evening, the young man looked around at his new American life and smiled contentedly.
"I never could have achieved anything like this without Father Mitchell," he said.
THIS SERIES
Yesterday, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported that dozens of clerics across the country who were accused of molesting minors lived with children, often serving as legal parents or guardians. Among them were four priests in Washington, who were later removed from the ministry for sexual abuse. Today, two Seattle-area men describe abuse inflicted when they were children living with priests.

P-I reporter Claudia Rowe can be reached at 206-448-8320 or claudiarowe@seattlepi.com









Girl knocked into fire over sex abuse
By Gavin Lower
01oct04

A WOMAN accused her adopted daughter of being a liar and knocked her into a fire after the girl revealed her adoptive father had sexually abused her, a court was told yesterday.

The 66-year-old woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, pleaded guilty in the Supreme Court in Hobart to assaulting her adopted daughter about 1980 at Hamilton, in the upper Derwent Valley.
While sentencing the woman, Justice Peter Underwood said her instant reaction to being told what had happened to her daughter was to lash out.
"You hit your daughter because you made an immediate judgment that she was a liar and you continued to believe this right up until very recently, when your husband was given a substantial prison sentence for maintaining a sexual relationship with your adopted daughter," he said.
Justice Underwood said the daughter had lived a sad and deprived life, mainly because of the sexual abuse by her father.
"But your instant accusatory judgment of her when she was 13 has contributed to her emotional turmoil," he said.
Justice Underwood said the girl was struck with such force that she was knocked into a fireplace where the fire was still glowing.
She suffered burns to an arm and had to go to hospital regularly for treatment.
The court heard the woman took her daughter to a doctor the next day to talk about the allegation and that the doctor told the woman she had nothing to worry about.
"But I have to say your failure to discuss the complaint personally with your daughter is disturbing," Justice Underwood said.
He sentenced the woman to three months in jail, suspended on condition she was of good behaviour for two years.
The woman's husband was jailed for 3½ years in August after being found guilty of sexually abusing his adopted daughter and step-granddaughter.

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Man pleads guilty to shooting adoptive mother as teen
Friday October 15, 2004
WASHINGTON, Pa. (AP) An 18-year-old man pleaded guilty to reduced charges in the shooting death of his adoptive mother and the abuse of her corpse more than two years ago.
John Gebauer, who was 15 when his mother, Alison Gebauer, was killed on Feb. 13, 2002, pleaded guilty Thursday to third-degree murder, abuse of a corpse and other charges stemming from the slaying.
Prosecutors said the youth shot his adopted mother with a .38-caliber handgun and sexually assaulted her afterward. He was arrested early on Valentine's Day in 2002 after police said they stopped him for driving erratically and found his backpack loaded with guns, ammunition and cash.
``What happens if a minor murders someone? I murdered and raped my mother,'' Charleroi police said Gebauer said after his arrest.
Washington County prosecutors are seeking to have Gebauer serve consecutive sentences. He also pleaded guilty to theft of a firearm, possession of firearm by minor, theft of credit cards, and unauthorized use of a motor vehicle. Washington County District Attorney John Pettit said Gebauer could be sentenced to 37{ to 75 years in prison.
Gebauer's attorney, Dennis Paluso, said the teen was remorseful but declined further comment. Relatives in the courtroom also declined comment and Ed Gebauer, the boy's adoptive father, did not have a listed number and could not be reached for comment.
Gebauer could have faced a life sentence if convicted of first-degree murder, which prosecutors were seeking. Jury selection in his trial was scheduled for later this month.
Pettit said he was confident that prosecutors could have persuaded a jury to convict Gebauer of first-degree murder but opted for a plea deal because it would be ``fair and reasonable'' given Gebauer's age and his childhood.
Gebauer, adopted in 2000, had previously spent several years in foster homes after his birth mother died of cancer when he was 7. Subsequently, he was bumped through six or seven foster homes, probation officer Monica Baronick testified during a 2002 court hearing.
In June 1999, Lawrence County officials told Baronick that John had been treated for threatening suicide and there were reports of sexual abuse while he was in foster care. Authorities described John as ``manipulative'' and said he had trouble distinguishing fantasy from reality.
Ed and Alison Gebauer knew they were adopting a troubled boy, but friends said the couple was confident they could help their new son. Both had been married before and Ed Gebauer has grown daughters from his first marriage.
But there were always signs of trouble. In December 1999, just four months after his adoption, John Gebauer told school officials that his adoptive father had abused him, accusations that county Children and Youth Services said weren't true.
In 2000, he was caught carrying a loaded weapon and a probation officer recommended him for an inpatient psychiatric therapy program. The Gebauers kept him out by promising to seek outpatient counseling.
(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)





































[Neil and Christy Edgar] Father, Sitter Guilty in Boy's Murder
Item 4611 • Posted: Fri, Sep. 26 2003 • Weblogged by ReligionNewsBlog.com
Permalink to this article (Right-click link -> Copy Link Location)


Associated Press (USA), Sep. 25, 2003
http://www.kansas.com
By Heather Hollingsworth
OLATHE, Kan. - The adoptive father and baby sitter of a 9-year-old boy who died after being wrapped from head-to-toe in duct tape were convicted Thursday of murder and child abuse.

Prosecutors said the boy was being punished for stealing cookies Dec. 29 when he was wrapped in duct tape with only his nose uncovered. He was left overnight, and suffocated on his own vomit.

Neil Edgar Sr., 48, and baby sitter Chasity Boyd, 20, were found guilty by a jury of first-degree murder and child abuse. Edgar's wife, Christy, pleaded guilty last week to the same charges.

All three face mandatory sentences of life in prison without the possibility of parole for 20 years, and could face additional time on the child abuse charges.

Attorneys for Edgar Sr. and Boyd said they would appeal.

The defense had argued that Christy Edgar manipulated her husband and other members of the God's Creation Outreach Ministry, a storefront church in Kansas City, Kan., operated by the Edgars.

Witnesses said Christy Edgar was considered a prophet and told church members that God told her to discipline children by tying them up.

The Edgars' 16-year-old son testified that his adoptive mother and the baby sitter wrapped 9-year-old Brian up, but his father went to the store when they ran out of duct tape.

Edgar Sr., the church's pastor, said he did not see what his wife bought. He originally claimed responsibility for Brian's death, but said later that he was only trying to protect

his wife.

"He wanted to try and save his wife and his church and look what it got him," said his attorney, Carl Cornwell.

The baby sitter's attorney, Bob Kuchar, said his client, a member of the Edgars' church, had the mental capacity of a 13-year-old.

"She's completely brainwashed by (Christy Edgar)," Kuchar said.

Five other members of the church face charges of abusing three of the Edgars' children and another child. Prosecutors have said church members hogtied children with extension cords or belts and left them overnight.

Brian's 12-year-old brother and 9-year-old sister testified that they also were tied up, but both said they did not think there was anything wrong with that.

The Edgars were receiving about $2,000 a month in adoption subsidies, prosecutor Paul Morrison said Thursday. "They were a commodity to those people," he said.

Clifford Jackson, superintendent of the Church of God in Christ's Pentecostal District Association, of which God's Creation is a member, said he was "shocked" by the verdict, especially the first-degree murder conviction.

"There's no evidence, not a shred of evidence, to support such a charge," Jackson said. "I think pastor Edgar in so many ways was as much a victim in this case as anyone.




























The Star, November 15, 1998
Woman sues orphanage for alleged abuse after adoption
By The Associated Press
HAMMOND, Ind.(AP) -- A lawsuit filed by a woman adopted 20 years ago from a Valparaiso orphanage alleges that she lived a hellish existence as a virtual sex slave in the home of a Tennessee minister and his wife.
The 12-page filing in U.S. District Court accuses the Baptist Children's Home and Family Ministries, both of Valparaiso, of failing to conduct background checks on Joseph and Evangeline Combs before placing the child in their care.
AP photo / Bristol Herald
CHARGED: Joseph D. Combs and his wife, Evangeline Combs, are escorted out of the Bristol Tennessee Police Department on Friday prior to being taken to the Sullivan County jail and charged with especially aggravated kidnapping. The former pastor and his wife kidnapped a baby girl from a children's home, then brainwashed her into believing God wanted her to be their family's servant, according to police. For much of 20 years, the girl served the couple and their four other children and was being physically and sexually abused by the couple, according to court documents.
The couple face criminal charges in Tennessee of kidnapping, child abuse and aggravated assault. Authorities there say the woman was abused for two decades.
Under the couple's care, the lawsuit alleges, the victim endured continued abuse through beatings and other physical abuse that left her with broken bones, dislocated joints and emotional scars.


"The circumstances in her home could not have been any worse," said Gregg Herman, the woman's attorney. "We hear the terms outrageous, horrific and egregious used quite often to describe situations. Those words are not strong enough to describe what this woman lived through."
The lawsuit claims that Joseph Combs sexually abused his adoptive daughter, who was kept as a "slave" in the couple's home.
It also alleges that Children's Home's operators never checked to make sure the adoption process had been completed.
No final order of adoption was obtained from the state.
Herman said the woman, who now lives in Michigan, will need several surgical procedures and years of counseling to overcome the physical and emotional trauma she suffered.
The Combses' 20-year-old son, David, has denied the charges of abuse. In addition to him, the couple have an adopted 21-year-old son and three other biological children. The youngest is 12.
The Combses lived in northwestern Indiana at the time of the adoption, but later moved to Bristol, Tenn., where Joseph Combs was the minister at the now-defunct Emmanuel Baptist Church.

Anonymous said...

Romanian sues Canadian parents who rejected her
FROM CANADIAN PRESS

A young Romanian mother is suing the wealthy Canadian couple who adopted her as a 9-year-old, then sent her back five months later to a life of poverty - two days after they adopted another baby girl.
The suit filed in Ontario Superior Court by Alexandra Austin, 22, identifies her legal father as prominent heart surgeon Joseph Austin, now chief of cardiothoracic surgery at Overlake Hospital Medical Center in Bellevue, Wash.
"They stole my childhood. They stole my future. They stole my life," Austin said in halting English, brushing away tears.
"I never had a normal life."
Also named in the suit, which seeks $2 million for, among other things, lack of duty of care, are the doctor's ex-wife, Silvana Marisa Di Giacomo, as well as the Canadian and Ontario governments.
The couple, then of Ancaster, Ont., had four boys and wanted a girl. In 1991, they persuaded Austin's impoverished mother to let them take her to Canada even though she was not up for adoption.
When they unceremoniously sent her home alone months later, the girl found herself back with her mother, but in legal limbo.
The Austins had never cancelled the adoption, and the child's documents had been altered, as is customary in such cases, to show her birthplace as Canada.
As a result, Romanian authorities refused to recognize her, and she was denied access to schooling and health care.
"I lost not one or two years, I lost 14 years," she said.
Now the mother of a 4-year-old daughter herself, Austin lives in a one-room Bucharest apartment, struggling to get by on a Grade 3 education in a country where Grade 7 is the minimum requirement for street sweeping.
Questions remain about both her and her child's identities.
Because she is not a Canadian citizen, Canadian consular officials refused to get involved until the media recently began asking questions but have done nothing to help, Austin said.
"It's like she has fallen between the cracks," said Mary Anne Alton, who brought Austin's plight to public attention with a documentary Return to Sender.
A secretary at Dr. Austin's office said, "He is not interested in making any comments." Di Giacomo lives in Rome but her exact whereabouts were not known.
The lawsuit was being funded on a contingency basis.
Ann McElhinney, an Irish journalist who worked on the documentary, called the case "a massive tragedy" that highlights the perils of international adoptions.

• An Orphan's tale

Despite the family's financial straits at the time - her biological father had died, leaving their mother with eight children - Canadian authorities knew Austin was well cared for and should never have allowed the adoption, she said.
"It's a tragedy that she was ever sent back but the greatest tragedy is that she ever left Romania in the first place," said McElhinney, who like Austin, wants an end to all such adoptions.
"Canada knew what they were doing was wrong."
As part of the documentary, Austin arrived unannounced on her adoptive father's doorstep in an effort to confront him, but he refused to acknowledge her.
She said he gave her a number to call and promised to talk to her another time, but the phone was disconnected.
While he told the documentary makers Austin was unhappy and wanted to go back to her native country, she said that wasn't true.
She maintained Tuesday she wants answers to the "many questions" she has about why she was adopted in the first place, and why she was as suddenly wrenched from a busy life of school and friends, swimming and piano lessons, and learning to ride a bicycle.
"I do not have an idea. I was a child," said Austin. "It wasn't my fault."
Austin's brother was adopted by another Canadian couple as a two-year-old and lives in Montreal.
Return to Sender airs again on CBC's The Passionate Eye on Wednesday evening

Anonymous said...

From http://www.canada.com/edmontonjournal/news/story.html?id=73bf43d5-113e-4a8f-ab2e-bf115fbb8588&k=85149

Adoption staff face fines over quotas
Child-welfare managers docked pay for missing targets: internal report

Susan Ruttan
The Edmonton Journal


Sunday, January 22, 2006


EDMONTON -- Child-welfare managers are being coerced by threats of lost wages if they don't meet quotas for placing children in adoptive homes, says a confidential internal government report obtained by The Journal.

The 54-page Children's Services report, A New Casework Practice Model, says some child-welfare managers have been financially penalized if they don't meet their adoption quota.

"It is somewhat unsavoury to link individual financial recompense to the adopting out of dependent children," the report states.

"This type of thinking does not engender permanency for children. If anything it may place them in a more vulnerable position, as breakdowns in adoption are more likely when there is pressure to rush adoptions."

The report, dated December 2005, was prepared by the Child Intervention Planning and Implementation Office of Children's Services. It was mistakenly e-mailed to a number of people within government. They were then told to delete the e-mail and were warned they would be reprimanded if they printed the document.

The report outlines how the work of child-welfare staff must be adjusted to meet the goals of the new Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act. The act came into effect in November 2004, replacing the Child Welfare Act.

Anonymous said...

Mother of dead baby questions check done on foster home
Last updated Nov 29 2005 11:14 AM MST
CBC News
The emotional mother of a 13-month-old boy who died while in foster care called the man charged in her son's death a "baby killer" as he made his first court appearance Monday.

The woman, who can't be named under provincial child protection laws, then left the courtroom in tears.

The 44-year-old man, who lives with the foster mother, has been charged with second-degree murder.

The boy died Saturday morning after being brought to hospital in critical condition two days before, police said.

Homicide detectives began investigating after hospital staff alerted police to the child's injuries when he was admitted Thursday morning.

Outside court, the baby's mother said her son was taken away a year ago while she battled a drug problem. She said she's undergone treatment and had hoped to get her son back, planning to go to court in the new year.

"I think child welfare should do thorough back checks on everybody when they place a child in their home," the mother said.

Children's Services Minister Heather Forsyth said an investigation into what happened has begun, and a fatality inquiry is automatically called when a child dies in government care. However, that won't happen until any criminal charges are dealt with.

"Any child that we have to apprehend, it's usually a very sad situation," Forsyth said. "So our job is to make sure that we do the best for any child that comes into our care."

Liberal Weslyn Mather says an inquiry should revisit the guidelines, "so that Albertans know that Children's Services offers the best system possible and the safest system possible."

An autopsy determined the child's death was caused by cranial trauma.

The baby is the city's 35th homicide of the year.

Anonymous said...

By CHRISTIE BLATCHFORD
Friday, December 16, 2005 - Globe and Mail

Toronto ? Two children involved in a shocking slaying in Welland, Ont., yesterday were both clients of local children's aid societies.
Niagara Regional Police, called shortly after 8 a.m. yesterday to a Frazer Street foster home, took a 14-year-old girl into custody and charged her with first-degree murder in the death of a three-year-old boy.

The Globe and Mail has learned that the boy was in the two-storey detached home on a temporary placement from the Children's Aid Society of Haldimand and Norfolk, while his accused killer is a Crown ward placed there by Family and Children's Services of the Niagara Region.

The names of the dead boy and the accused teen cannot be published because both are minors.

The slaying has stunned even police in the town of about 50,000 in the south Niagara region west of Toronto.
"Three-year-olds aren't supposed to die, bottom line," Niagara Constable Sal Basilone told The Globe last night.

"There's nothing to be said to anyone by way of condolences."

Constable Basilone said the force is concerned "for everyone involved, including our officers."

An autopsy was performed at Hamilton General Hospital yesterday on the boy's body, but the results weren't immediately available. Spokesmen for the two children's aid agencies involved couldn't be reached for comment last night.

The news that another young charge of a children's aid society has come to a violent end while "receiving services," as the language of child welfare casts it, couldn't come at a worse time for the province's 53 CAS organizations.

Just last week, Ontario Ombudsman André Marin appeared before a legislative committee to ask that his office be allowed to probe complaints against children's aid societies and to demand independent oversight of the agencies.

Officials with Ontario's Ministry of Children's and Youth Services are also braced for a barrage of questions about the role of the Catholic Children's Aid Society of Toronto in custody arrangements that saw Jeffrey Baldwin placed with his maternal grandparents although both of them were convicted child abusers.

The boy, not quite six years old, died of septic shock and pneumonia, but expert witnesses at the grandparents' criminal trial have testified that prolonged, chronic starvation was the underlying cause of death. Jeffrey weighed only 21 pounds and resembled a Third World famine victim when he died.

Elva Bottineau and Norman Kidman, now 54 and 53 respectively, are charged with first-degree murder in the death, and their trial is slowly winding its way to a close, with lawyers in the case expected to deliver closing arguments next month.

Anonymous said...

Ombudsman seeks power over CASs
Children at risk without oversight of Children's Aid Societies: Marin
Jeff Esau, The Ottawa Citizen
Published: Monday, December 12, 2005
Ontario children are at risk because there is no independent scrutiny of the province's 53 Children's Aid Societies, Ontario's ombudsman says.
Andre Marin says the existing law governing Children's Aid Societies prevents him from investigating the more than 300 complaints he receives annually about CASs.
Even worse, legislation being considered for the child protection system would remove all accountability of CASs, which operate as "private agencies." In other provinces, Mr. Marin says, child protection is a public function or is shared between government and private agencies.
Speaking to the legislature's standing committee on social policy in Toronto last week, Mr. Marin said that not only would Bill 210 fail to provide effective oversight, but it would remove the sparse complaint mechanisms now in place.
"If that small window (of accountability) 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 solution, he told legislators, would be to add a single provision to the Child and Family Services Statute Law Amendment Act to give the Ontario ombudsman authority over Children's Aid Societies.
He said no one should be surprised at his persistence because "administrative decisions taken by these societies have life-and-death impact on children in need."
Mr. Marin gives disturbing examples of what can happen when CASs are beyond scrutiny, as in the case of five-year- old Jeffrey Baldwin, who was starved to death in Toronto in 2002. Two people are still on trial in Toronto over the boy's death.
Mr. Marin notes that Ontario affords convicted criminals housed in privatized provincial jails protection by the ombudsman, but fails to extend the same protection to children.
"The sheer irony here in Ontario is that you have the ombudsman's office positioned to help protect convicted criminals, but we've left children in this province in a lurch," he says.
In an interview yesterday, Mr. Marin said his decision to make a public statement was prompted by the lack of progress in his months-long campaign of "glad-handing" with Ontario Children and Youth Services Minister Mary Anne Chambers, her deputy minister and the bureaucrats responsible for the bill.
"I've been lobbying the ministry. This is not just me coming out of nowhere last week. I've been quietly working in the background, but there were no results," he said.
Still, Mr. Marin says there are signs of hope. "The minister sent me a message after my testimony saying that she was open to amendments and, again, that's encouraging, but we're not there yet. I haven't seen it on paper."
Ottawa child welfare advocate John Dunn said he is pleased with the ombudsman's public discussion about the issue.
Mr. Dunn, 35, was in care himself for 16 years and lived in 13 foster homes. He recently formed the Foster Care Council of Canada after advocating for himself and others in the area of child protection for five years.
As the new organization's executive director, Mr. Dunn is preparing to circulate a petition to ask the government to "enact legislation giving the Ontario Ombudsman's Office jurisdiction over all Ontario's Children's Aid Societies."
Looking back, Mr. Dunn can identify the rights he should have had as a ward of the state. He hopes the ombudsman can help others by bringing some insight, impartiality and a cool head to the CASs.
Mr. Dunn has seen firsthand that fear and panic often cause parents to make rash and inappropriate statements to the CAS. "Then the CAS worker gets offended and the relationship becomes strained. Things are said between them that cause the worker to label the parent 'emotionally unstable.' They may even truly believe that the parent is like that, but it's only spawned by their fear of losing their kid."
Mr. Dunn thinks the legislation "has a lot of good things in it," such as open adoptions and kinship care. "But the fact that they're going to reduce any external accountability is what inspired my whole petition action," he said.
© The Ottawa Citizen 2005




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