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Thursday, January 04, 2007

I'm sorry to say that I haven't put the plaque on the rock yet. It has either been too cold or too wet when I have had time to go. I've also been busy making quilts for kids similar to the ones I sent Jeffrey's siblings last Christmas. I call them 'Jeffrey's Comfy Quilts' and I will be donating them to the Canadian Center for Abuse Awareness.

I'm also moving right along with my building plans, though the idea has changed slightly. In addition to being a crisis nursery, I want to also have room for up to 16 children, and 6 babies and toddlers. A big foster home. I will keep you up to date on that project.

If you need to get a hold of me directly, my e-mail address is jeffreyslaw@cogeco.ca

Take care and hope this is the year of change for society's; for our children!

Amanda

48 comments:

Anonymous said...

That's a good idea Amanda, I think I will start making Quilts too, and I can send them somewhere around here and I'll keep the name too if you don't mind.
E

Anonymous said...

Add em to the list...... but at least this was dealt with in firing someone. In Ontario when social workers are responsible DIRECTLY FOR THE MURDER OF A CHILD, THEY GET TO STAY WITH PAY IN THEIR POSITIONS! Maybe the Minister here can get out of bed with a group of baby brokers, and clean up shop!!!


Manager fired in baby’s death

Supervisor in Delaware had been alerted to possible abuse

Friday, December 29, 2006
Dana Wilson
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH

DELAWARE, Ohio — Delaware County officials fired a Children Services supervisor yesterday for ignoring a phone call about suspected abuse of an 11-month-old boy who later died.

After an internal review, the county commissioners decided that Lee Hayes’ inaction warranted ending her job as intake supervisor.

The review focused on two anonymous calls made to Children Services workers in November regarding possible mistreatment of infant Nicholas Goodrich. The boy died Dec. 12, and his mother’s boyfriend is accused of killing him.

State and local officials are investigating how Delaware and Franklin counties’ child-welfare agencies handled complaints about Nicholas’ care before his death. Franklin County Children Services yesterday confirmed receiving three calls about the boy as well.

Hayes’ office in Delaware County forwarded the first call about Nicholas to Franklin County authorities after tracing the boy’s mother to a Columbus address through welfare records.

But when the same caller followed up a week later, saying the mother and child had moved to Delaware, Hayes ignored the tip, Commissioner Jim Ward said.

That complaint should have been investigated immediately, he said.

Hayes "was the supervisor, and it was her responsibility that this sort of thing should never have happened," Ward said. "She did not handle things correctly."

Within weeks of the reported abuse, Nicholas died of severe brain injuries. His mother, Rachel Ewers, 22, of Delaware, has been charged with involuntary manslaughter, and her live-in boyfriend, Raytone Wilson, 21, is charged with aggravated murder.

A baby sitter said she called Children Services workers in both counties with her suspicions of abuse before the boy died.

Ward said it remains unclear why Hayes did not respond after her office learned that Ewers was living in Delaware County.

Ewers and her son lived in Franklin County before moving to Delaware.

Hayes, 44, was placed on paid administrative leave Tuesday. Her firing is effective today.

Hayes oversaw employees who receive calls and investigate allegations of child abuse and neglect. She has worked for the Delaware County Department of Job and Family Services since 1992, and served as a supervisor since 1998.

Her personnel records show praise for her overall performance and no previous disciplinary problems.

Hayes’ attorney, Tony Heald, said his client will consider appealing the commissioners’ decision to the Ohio Department of Administrative Services.

Meanwhile, how the case was handled by child-welfare officials in both counties remains under review by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.

Franklin County Children Services also is conducting its own review of three calls it received regarding Nicholas, as well as the referral from Delaware County, said Eric Fenner, the agency’s deputy director.

"We are doing a very thorough, comprehensive review of that entire episode," Fenner said. "We want to find out exactly what happened and how it was handled."

Referrals of families who recently moved can sometimes lead to confusion between agencies, Fenner said.

Mona Reilly, director of the Delaware County Department of Job and Family Services, said her agency continues to review its policies and procedures and likely will hire an outside firm for further evaluation.

"We feel this is a very tragic occurrence for all involved," Reilly said. "It is our job as a Children Services protective agency to respond to children that are in need and protect them, and we will continue to do our best effort in that regard."

Information on Nicholas’ suspected abuse was given to Hayes last month almost immediately after one of her employees took the second call, Reilly said.

As intake supervisor, it was up to Hayes to review the complaint and determine whether it required investigation, Reilly said.

"We don’t really have a clear picture as to why she did not respond," Reilly said.

Commissioner Kris Jordan said the internal review revealed Hayes’ awareness of the situation.

"We found that there were things that weren’t done and, unfortunately, that leads to us having to fire somebody," Jordan said. "They should’ve sent somebody out to visit the home and assess the complaint."

dwilson@dispatch.com

Anonymous said...

You know Minister Chambers and the Liberal government should be responsible for putting the Jeffrey Baldwin memorial plaque in place all together.

And they still WON'T HAVE OMBUDSMAN OVERSIGHT.

I guess we will just have to keep reading the news stories weekly and monthly of dead children, while the CAS carries on with "business" as usual.

Anonymous said...

Why were the CAS attending a conference in China? Might it be that they were further looking into selling Chinese babies for their clients, rather then protecting children in their care?

Jeffrey's Law said...

E:
Of course I don't mind!
Can you tell me how the children are doing? Do you know if they got the quilts I made them last year? Can you find out for me? Only because I had to send them to the CCAS for them to forward the blankets to the children and I want to make SURE they got them!
Thanks a lot and take care!
E-mail me at jeffreyslaw@cogeco.ca
Amanda

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Anonymous said...

Teen admits murdering tot

Tue, January 23, 2007

The 15-year-old girl suffocated three-year-old Matthew Reid at a foster home in Welland.

By CP


ST. CATHARINES -- A 15-year-old girl pleaded guilty to second-degree murder yesterday, admitting she suffocated a three-year-old Tillsonburg-area toddler with his own pillow.

The girl killed Matthew Reid the day after she arrived at a foster home in Welland.

She smeared him with her blood and placed two notes under his head as he lay on the floor.

"I know what his last words were before he died," the girl wrote on a piece of paper. "Moma."

Then she signed her name.

"We haven't gotten any answers from anybody," the boy's mother, Tania Reid said yesterday outside court.

Reid said she wants to know if the girl, then 14, was a known risk for violence when she was placed in the same foster home as Matthew, who had been removed from his mother's care by the Children's Aid Society of Haldimand-Norfolk. Reid told media outlets in 2005 that Matthew was taken from her because CAS considered her an unfit mother.

The girl, whose identity is protected by the Youth Criminal Justice Act, wept in the prisoner's box as facts of the case were read into court.

The Ontario Court of Justice heard she lived in various foster homes beginning at an early age and was eventually adopted, along with her biological brother and sister.

She was later removed from the adoptive home and placed in foster care in Niagara Falls because she assaulted her younger sister. In December 2005, she met a man in Niagara Falls who befriended her and started a sexual relationship.

She began visiting him in his motel room.

On Dec. 9, the teenager took her foster family's van to meet the man at the motel. As a result, she was arrested and charged with theft over $5,000.

After a bail hearing Dec. 14, she was released from jail and placed into the care of the new foster home in Welland.

The Crown is seeking an adult sentence for the girl, but must first hold a suitability hearing. She will be sent to an institution in Sudbury to be assessed.

Anonymous said...

Teen pleads guilty to toddler's murder
Both victim and assailant were in the care of Niagara's children's aid agency

HAYLEY MICK
Globe and Mail Newspaper
January 23, 2007

ST. CATHARINES, ONT. -- Life had not been kind to either child in the foster home: the dimpled boy of 3, or the troubled 14-year-old who was bailed out of custody and delivered there by her case worker.

But it was the girl who crept into the toddler's bedroom and suffocated him with a pillow, less than 24 hours after she had left a youth detention facility, a court in this Southern Ontario city heard yesterday.

Then she wrote two notes, signing her name before tucking them under the little boy's head. One was a confession that said "the police can do what they want with me . . . I don't care." The other revealed her victim's last word: "Momma."

Wearing jeans and a purple V-necked shirt yesterday, the dark-haired teen, now 15, doubled over and cried when those details, from an agreed statement of facts, were read out in court. She had been charged with first-degree murder in the Dec. 14, 2005, killing, but pleaded guilty yesterday to a lesser charge of second-degree murder.

By law, information that would reveal her identity cannot be published, including the name of her victim.

Also weeping was the toddler's 24-year-old mother, who said her anger is focused not so much on her son's killer, but on the government agency that failed to protect him: Family and Children's Services Niagara.

"What are they doing to ensure that it won't happen again?" said the woman, whose dark brown eyes once matched her son's.

Her family has requested an inquest into the death, and the Office of the Ontario Coroner has been investigating the case for more than a year.

"There are many other [non-legal] issues with the circumstances that led up to this happening," deputy chief coroner Dr. Jim Cairns said yesterday in a telephone interview. He expects to make an announcement regarding a possible inquest this week.

The lawyer for the family of the slain toddler, Tara Pollitt, said the family has many questions for Family and Children's Services Niagara, a provincially funded child-protection agency.

"The main concern really, is why was this child put in there? Was the girl dangerous? Did they know anything about her before they put her in there? It's not a very usual situation that you put a kid in with a three-year-old and all of a sudden the three-year-old ends up dead," she said.

Bill Charron, the agency's executive director, said case workers knew the girl had a troubled history, but when a Crown ward leaves police custody, there are two options: a group home or foster care.

"We make every placement based on what we know about the child and what we know about the caregiver," he said. "If anyone would have foreseen this, then we would have done everything to prevent it. . . . I've never seen anything like this."

Court heard that the girl has been a ward of Family and Children's Services Niagara since infancy. By 2, she had been adopted, along with her two siblings. But she was removed from the home because she assaulted her younger sister.

She bounced to a foster home in Niagara Falls where, at about 13, she began having a sexual relationship with a man she met at a library. On Dec. 9, 2005, she was charged with theft over $5,000 after allegedly stealing her foster parents' minivan and trying to visit the man at a motel.

Five days later, her case worker arranged for her release and delivered her to a new foster home in Welland, Ont., where a brown-eyed, three-year-old boy had been living for about a year.

The teen settled into her second-floor bedroom, across the hall from the boy. Their foster mother checked on both before she went to bed.

Court heard that the foster mother found the dead toddler the next morning. The accused had used her own menstrual blood to draw markings on his cheeks and a cross on his forehead, court heard.

The teen's lawyer, John Lefurgey, said the girl suffers from fetal alcohol effects and may have mental problems. She will undergo an assessment before she is sentenced in April.

She had "a childhood we wouldn't wish on any of our kids," Mr. Lefurgey said.

Crown lawyer Pat Vadacchino is asking for an adult sentence. The teen faces a maximum penalty of seven years in a youth detention facility if sentenced as a youth, and 25 years in jail as an adult.

Meantime, the boy's family continues to visit his grave, which they decorated with balloons on his birthday and a little tree at Christmas.

"He was a perfect little boy. Everyone that met him loved him," his mother said.

She suffers from depression, and said the Haldimand-Norfolk Children's Aid Society took her son when he was 10 months old. Her daughter, now 6, lives with her paternal grandparents, and she has custody of her eight-month-old son, who bears a striking resemblance to his brother.

When the boy died, his maternal grandparents were in the final stages of an application to become his legal guardians. His 45-year-old grandmother had painted his bedroom walls with the alphabet, and bought SpongeBob SquarePants sheets for his bed.

"I go through hell," she said. "I go through a lot of hell. I've never cried so much in my life."

Anonymous said...

Good going Mr. Ombudsman!

Watchdog pleads for children's aid oversight

Ombudsman cites CAS 'horror' stories that his office is powerless to remedy

HAYLEY MICK
Tragedies such as the teen who pleaded guilty this week to murdering a toddler in a foster home prove it is time Ontario's provincially funded children's aid societies were held accountable, Ontario's ombudsman says.

"There's not a day that goes by without us hearing another CAS horror story," André Marin said in an interview yesterday.

"The complaints are piling high on my desk and my hands are tied by dated legislation. I simply can't help these people."

Since April of last year, his office has received 496 complaints about children's aid services, ranging from child safety concerns to claims of sexual abuse by children's aid staff and claims that agencies retaliated against people who "dare challenge them," he said.

Yet his office is powerless to investigate because the province's 53 children's welfare agencies -- which collectively consume about $1.5-billion in provincial funding each year -- are treated as private institutions, outside the provincial watchdog's authority.

On Monday, a 15-year-old girl pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the suffocation death of a three-year-old boy in a foster home in Welland, Ont.

The teen's case worker had placed her in the home on Dec. 14, 2005, after bailing her out of a youth detention facility. Less than 24 hours later, the toddler was dead.

An inquest into the death is expected to be announced later this week by the Office of the Ontario Coroner, which for the past year has been investigating the case and what role child welfare agencies may have played in the death.

Relatives of the slain toddler have accused Family and Children's Services Niagara of failing to protect the boy by placing the teen in the home.

She previously had been removed from her adoptive family for assaults on her younger sister.

Bill Charron, the agency's executive director, said earlier this week that case workers knew about the accused teen's troubled past, but put her in the foster home because it was the best place for her.

Mr. Marin says the Office of the Ontario Coroner does a good job of investigating such deaths, but "we should be able to be pro-active and deal with the complaints before we have a dead body."

Mr. Marin says he has lobbied Premier Dalton McGuinty and Child and Youth Minister Mary Anne Chambers to push for independent oversight of the agencies -- with little success.

"It saddens me to this day that the government has been swayed by the self-serving arguments made by the CAS," he said.

Ms. Chambers said the province has recently introduced several new regulations that make children's aid societies more accountable, including heavier security checks for foster families and a system that helps people register complaints.

The minister was in Niagara Falls yesterday, where she announced new funding for grandparents and relatives who take custody of children in the foster care system.

The grandparents of the slain toddler in Welland had been in the final stages of becoming his legal guardians when he was killed.

Anonymous said...

Globe and Mail Newspaper
January 24, 2007

Watchdog pleads for children's aid oversight

Ombudsman cites CAS 'horror' stories that his office is powerless to remedy

HAYLEY MICK

Tragedies such as the teen who pleaded guilty this week to murdering a toddler in a foster home prove it is time Ontario's provincially funded children's aid societies were held accountable, Ontario's ombudsman says.

"There's not a day that goes by without us hearing another CAS horror story," André Marin said in an interview yesterday.

"The complaints are piling high on my desk and my hands are tied by dated legislation. I simply can't help these people."

Since April of last year, his office has received 496 complaints about children's aid services, ranging from child safety concerns to claims of sexual abuse by children's aid staff and claims that agencies retaliated against people who "dare challenge them," he said.

Yet his office is powerless to investigate because the province's 53 children's welfare agencies -- which collectively consume about $1.5-billion in provincial funding each year -- are treated as private institutions, outside the provincial watchdog's authority.

On Monday, a 15-year-old girl pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the suffocation death of a three-year-old boy in a foster home in Welland, Ont.

The teen's case worker had placed her in the home on Dec. 14, 2005, after bailing her out of a youth detention facility. Less than 24 hours later, the toddler was dead.

An inquest into the death is expected to be announced later this week by the Office of the Ontario Coroner, which for the past year has been investigating the case and what role child welfare agencies may have played in the death.

Relatives of the slain toddler have accused Family and Children's Services Niagara of failing to protect the boy by placing the teen in the home.

She previously had been removed from her adoptive family for assaults on her younger sister.

Bill Charron, the agency's executive director, said earlier this week that case workers knew about the accused teen's troubled past, but put her in the foster home because it was the best place for her.

Mr. Marin says the Office of the Ontario Coroner does a good job of investigating such deaths, but "we should be able to be pro-active and deal with the complaints before we have a dead body."

Mr. Marin says he has lobbied Premier Dalton McGuinty and Child and Youth Minister Mary Anne Chambers to push for independent oversight of the agencies -- with little success.

"It saddens me to this day that the government has been swayed by the self-serving arguments made by the CAS," he said.

Ms. Chambers said the province has recently introduced several new regulations that make children's aid societies more accountable, including heavier security checks for foster families and a system that helps people register complaints.

The minister was in Niagara Falls yesterday, where she announced new funding for grandparents and relatives who take custody of children in the foster care system.

The grandparents of the slain toddler in Welland had been in the final stages of becoming his legal guardians when he was killed.

Anonymous said...

Ontario's Ombudsman Andre Marin is speaking out again. His office has been forbidden by legislators and the children's aid societies from investigating more than 496 complaints he recieved last year.He's voicing the concerns of parents, children and others who are encountering "horror stories" at the hands of CAS.

Last time we heard from the Ombudsman, it was to do with Jefferey Baldwin, when he was placed with grandparents who had already been convicted of killing one infant, and ended up dieing of starvation.The grandparents were convicted and sentenced, yet CAS skated away with nothing more then a slap on the wrist.

This time, it's about a 3 yr old that was murdered by another foster kid, who had a history of assaulting other youth in the past.Again & again we hear of more tragedy affecting our most vulnerable and the CAS is still immune from any scrutiny or accountability.

It would take but a few lines to the existing legislation to allow Mr Marin to investigate.Instead the Minister reveals she would rather appoint another bureaucy, that will be called A Childrens Advocate.Only this advocate will not be given any real investigative powers only permission to make statements and inquiries.Why the government would rather spend millions in creating a new office when one clearly already exists and would cost significantly less should be your first clue,that the CAS and the Ministry have a great deal to hide.

The scathing auditors report released last novemeber portrayed a message that the government was more concerned with how its money was being spent over the dire circumstances families and clients are encountering because of CAS.Sounds like a contradiction to me.How exactly does the governemtn save money by creating another bureaucy to do its clean up rather then allow the ombudsman to investigate?Sometimes you have to read between the lines.You have to listen to what theyre not saying and what they refuse to do for our vulnerable children.

There is a bill before the House, Bill 88 that would give the Ombudsman power to probe and resolve the nagging issues plaguing clients and child welfare.What are they so afraid of?You only have to speak to ex wards like John Dunn, Jesse MacVicar and many many more to answer that.God forbid we should reform the system and make it a safer and accountable place for our children.

Anonymous said...

Picture this: deadbeat parents online: Humiliation tactic aims to boost payments
The Edmonton Journal
Sat 27 Jan 2007
Page: A9
Section: News
Dateline: TORONTO
Source: The Canadian Press
TORONTO - Ontario's Liberal government will step up its efforts to embarrass deadbeat parents into paying their court-ordered family support by posting their pictures online.

Social Services Minister Madeleine Meilleur said the website is one more way for people to help the province's Family Responsibility Office find irresponsible parents and collect the money they owe their children.

"It will of course embarrass them, and they may decide to pay up prior to" having their name and picture posted on the website, Meilleur said in an interview. "They will be advised, so they will have a last chance to pay their support."

The plan is to post pictures and information about deadbeat parents on the website in hopes that members of the public will inform the government about the whereabouts of the person being sought.

Ontario's Family Responsibility Office, which helps ensure parents get the support payments they are entitled to, has almost 188,000 active

cases, with each remaining open for an average of 12 years.

Meilleur said the office will also start notifying professional associations such as the Law Society of Upper Canada about lawyers who are not meeting their financial obligations to their families.

"I have difficulty with those who are a member of the Law Society, because the payment is an order of the court, so I have a problem with that," Meilleur said.

"And so does the Law Society have a problem with that."

It will be up to the Law Society to decide how to deal with lawyers whom the office says are not paying support as ordered by the courts.

But as with the website, Meilleur hopes the advance warning of the notification will be enough to spark the deadbeat spouse into paying up.

Meilleur said there have been big improvements at the Family Responsibility Office, which had come under repeated fire from Ontario's ombudsman for being "inept" and having a "lackadaisical" attitude when it comes to collecting outstanding support.

"Things have changed," Meilleur said.

"In my office now we have almost no complaints, and we used to have lots of them."

The government has already taken a number of steps to strengthen enforcement.

Meilleur said deadbeats started paying up in larger numbers after the maximum jail time for offenders was doubled to 180 days, and the province started suspending driver's licences for non-payment.

She said the Family Responsibility Office has collected $563.4 million in outstanding support since January 2004 after issuing 16,000 notices of intention to suspend driver's licences.

Anonymous said...

There should be no doubt that any such horror stories that the Ombudsman is hearing are true.

Even the fact that people are complaining about sexual abuse by CAS staff, still won't get this government to do anything about them.

The police should kick the doors in of every single agency and execute search warrants as well. What is so bloody horrible about CAS that none want to be responsible. Why are so many former foster children disclosing that they were sexually abused in care?

What are they doing, and why are they doing it???

Anonymous said...

They re-aired Finding Normal this week which is on the CBC's website. The story of how the vultures at CAS allowed a boy to be sexually abused in a group home, and then how they drugged the child with enough medication to kill a small horse.

But no God forbid that they do anything about them what so ever.

Anonymous said...

Another child killed in foster care....... this time in Edmonton. Of course a veil of secrecy will transpire over this as well. They need to stop putting children in foster stranger danger care wherever possible........

Murder charge laid in death of foster boy, 3

Mon, January 29, 2007

By DEAN BENNETT, CP



EDMONTON -- Alberta's Children's Services minister ordered a special case review yesterday as police charged a 32-year-old woman with murdering a three-year-old foster boy in her care.

"This is absolutely a tragedy. It's a very sad day for Albertans," said Janis Tarchuk.

"My heart goes out to the family and friends of this young boy."

Tarchuk said experts from inside and outside the department, along with John Mould, the provincial child and youth advocate, will examine how the boy's case was handled.

"It allows us to look at all of our services and determine if there's anything that can be learned from this tragedy," she said.

Police charged the woman with second-degree murder yesterday after the toddler succumbed to his injuries the night before at the Stollery Children's Hospital.

Early Friday morning, the boy was rushed to hospital by paramedics responding to a call at a west-end house. Paramedics then called police.

"The boy had been in critical condition since Friday," said police spokesperson Lisa Lammi, who said the name of the accused and victim can't be released due to privacy rules under the Child Youth and Family Enhancement Act.

Reports say the child had severe bruising and massive brain swelling and that there were three other children, including a second foster child, in the woman's care.

Family Services spokesperson Cheryl Oxford would not comment except to say all the children from the home were now "in a safe place."

Lammi said the woman faces four other charges: assault causing bodily harm, aggravated assault, failure to provide the necessities of life and child abandonment.

She is in custody and will appear in court Feb. 5.

Also due to privacy rules, Oxford could not say how or when the child came to be in foster care.

Tarchuk said she's not sure how much information from the review will be made public.

Oxford said in the meantime they'll do what they can to help the little boy's family.

"We do have contact with the family and provide whatever supports we can."

It was the city's fourth homicide of 2007.

Anonymous said...

Police file charges against foster mother of dead child

Edmonton Journal

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Police have filed new charges of second-degree murder and assault causing bodily harm against an Edmonton foster mother, after a three-year-old boy in her care died from his head injuries.

The child died around 11: 20 p.m. Saturday when he was taken off life support. His father told the Journal the toddler had suffered severe brain damage.

The new charges laid on Sunday are in addition to charges of aggravated assault, failure to provide the necessities of life and child abandonment that were filed against the foster mother on Saturday. The woman, who is 32 years old, cannot be named to protect the identity of the child.

The Journal has learned she is a part-time employee at Grant MacEwan College. The college has relieved her of her duties.

The woman has been remanded into custody until Feb. 5.

The boy was taken to hospital early Friday morning after paramedics were called to a two-storey brick house in Edmonton’s west end. Police were called in to investigate after paramedics reported the child’s injuries were suspicious.

Neighbours said the home is owned by a single mother, who lived there with two of her own children and two foster children, including the toddler who died.

Three children were removed from the home Friday and placed in protective care.

The toddler who died was placed in provincial government care on Dec. 6, the father said. It is unclear when he was sent to live at the west-end home.

The father said his son had lost a lot of weight since he last saw him. The boy also had bruises on his body, as well as burns on his hands and nose, he said.

He said police told him the toddler was made to sleep in the garage at night.

Anonymous said...

When will they get off the Ombudsman's back???

Ombudsman defending his turf
The Toronto Sun
Tue 30 Jan 2007
Page: 17
Section: Editorial/Opinion
Byline: BY CHRISTINA BLIZZARD
Source:
It is an age-old dilemma that perplexes any society -- seeking justice for all while protecting the rights of individuals against the excesses of those who enforce the law.

In short, who polices the police?

Police put their lives on the line to protect us from the bad guys -- murderers, rapists, child abusers, punks who gun down shoppers on Yonge St.

Even so, the police, as an armed and paramilitary force, must be scrutinized, reined in at times and held to account.

In this province, who polices police often becomes a hot debate. We have a spotty record when it comes to doing it in a fair and unbiased fashion. You don't want an agency that panders to every political whim and cop-hating activist.

At the same time, you don't want one that is toothless or intimidated by the police.

In this context, Ontario Ombudsman Andre Marin is crying foul over the Liberal government's plan to set up a new office -- the Independent Police Review Director.

Marin wants oversight of the office, which he claims falls under his jurisdiction.

"You are creating this new commission that falls under my jurisdiction, but you are removing oversight by the Ombudsman with this nasty section," Marin said in a recent interview.

The original Civilian Complaints Act of 1981 excluded scrutiny by the Ombudsman because it was a pilot project restricted to the Toronto police service. It had no provincial component.

When the police complaints process became enshrined province-wide in the Police Service Act of 1990, the earlier law was replicated and still didn't give the Ombudsman oversight. Marin calls it the "cling-on" provision adding, "it doesn't make any sense.

"The Independent Police Director will report to the Attorney General," he says. "There is no independent oversight." Morin notes that seven other provinces allow their Ombudsman to oversee the police complaint process.

The new Police Review Director replaces the old Ontario Civilian Commission on Policing Services (OCCOPS). The changes result from a review of the process by Mr. Justice Patrick LeSage, that started in 2005.

Sources say LeSage didn't want the Ombudsman to have oversight because he wanted there to be some finality to decisions made by the independent police complaints process. The new position is meant to be parallel to that of Ombudsman.

Marin says it's ironic he has oversight of the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), which investigates police actions resulting in serious injury or death, but does not have oversight of civilian complaints about the police.

The new post will be a powerful arbiter of disputes.

NO INDEPENDENT EXAMINATION

But Marin warns there will be no independent examination of the processes and decisions made by this office, adding that's not good for the cops or the person making the complaint.

Marin will appear before the Legislature's justice policy committee today to ask them to change the legislation before it's too late.

New Democrat critic Peter Kormos will table an amendment requesting the change.

"The Independent Police Review Director, as has been pointed out by Mr. Marin, will have extraordinary powers, and not inappropriately so," Kormos said. "He or she will play a powerful role in receiving and dealing with disputes between citizens and the police (and) have power over chiefs of police, police officers and of course, as has been pointed out, the citizenry ... in view of that, it is imperative that there be oversight in his or her function."

Times have changed. With the original omission dating back to 1981, there is a hint of a "Rip Van Winkle" effect here, he says. It might have been popular back then, but, "so were the BeeGees."

Marin has done an exemplary job since he took over as Ombudsman almost two years ago. He is feisty and fearless and only too happy to tackle heartless bureaucrats and hidebound government processes that move at a glacial pace, often trapping the little guy under their weight.

And it's not just the BeeGees' music that's "Stayin' alive, stayin' alive" these days. There's also some outdated policies that need an overhaul.


© 2007 Sun Media Corporation. All rights reserved.


Edition: Final
Length: 677 words

Anonymous said...

ATTN. NEWS EDITORS: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Ontario’s Ombudsman asks: Who will police the new police complaints process?

TORONTO (January 30, 2007) – Ontario Ombudsman André Marin today urged the
Standing Committee on Justice Policy to delete a section of the proposed Bill 103 which
shields the new Police Review Director from the scrutiny of the Ombudsman’s office.

“The Director will wield enormous power over chiefs of police, all Ontario police
officers and of course, citizens who complain to him or her, but will enjoy a privileged
enclave accountable only internally to the Attorney General,” Mr. Marin warned.

Noting that the intent of Bill 103 is to create a new agency for public police complaints
after years of problems including “allegations of bias, plodding bureaucracies and
inefficiencies,” Mr. Marin cautioned the Committee against excluding the Ombudsman.

“We can only hope that history will not repeat itself. But if it does, who will investigate
this new super-agency?” Mr. Marin asked. “Who can the police or the public turn to if
someone is dissatisfied with the delicate decisions this government body will make
regarding complaints against the police?”

The Ombudsman’s office oversees more than 500 provincial ministries, agencies, boards
and commissions on behalf of citizens. “You should ask yourselves what causes the
government to create an exception to this rule,” Mr. Marin told Committee members.
“Why should there be two different accountability regimes for the provincial government
– one for the police complaints body and one for everybody else?”

Mr. Marin said the section excluding the Ombudsman is due to an “accident of history,”
stemming from the fact that the original Police Services Act of 1981 involved only
municipal police and thus fell outside the Ombudsman’s jurisdiction. “It has managed to
cling on, unchallenged, from one era to the next.”

Seven other provinces allow oversight of public police complaints. “If this bill passes,
Ontario will have the dubious distinction of being the only jurisdiction where police
complaints are outside the reach of parliamentarians,” said Mr. Marin.

-30-

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Anonymous said...

Ontario Woman Receives Cheque for US Cancer Treatment
Josh Pringle
Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The Ontario Government is reimbursing a St. Catharines woman who was forced to pay more than 75-thousand dollars for life-saving cancer treatment in the United States.

Suzanne Aucoin launched an online campaign, a legal battle and a plea to Ontario's ombudsman to get the cheque.

Ombudsman Andre Marin says Aucoin applied to receive out-of-country treatment for colorectal cancer, but a misunderstanding at the Health Ministry resulted in her being rejected.

After a meeting last week with the ombudsman, the Health Ministry agreed to pay Aucoin's costs and apologized.

Anonymous said...

Ontario to pay $76,000 bill
The Toronto Star
Wed 31 Jan 2007
Page: A01
Section: News
Byline: Rob Ferguson
Source: Toronto Star
She's fighting colon cancer but Suzanne Aucoin is elated after a rare personal apology from Ontario's health ministry, which admitted it was wrong in refusing to pay for her chemotherapy in Buffalo and is reimbursing her every penny.

A cheque for $76,018.23 was expected to arrive at her St. Catharines home today following an investigation by Ontario Ombudsman Andre Marin, who said the rules for seeking out-of-country treatment are so complex "it's like handing patients a Rubik's cube."

Marin persuaded bureaucrats to change their minds about Aucoin's case - and their policy for others in her situation, with clearer guidelines to be issued along with better explanations when requests for any form of out-of-country treatment are denied.

Aucoin said she's glad the victory will have an impact beyond her own case but it remains bittersweet after more than a year of appeals to bureaucrats and Ontario Health Insurance Plan review boards.

"I should never have had to deal with this, it takes all my energy to fight cancer," the 36-year-old teacher on medical leave told the Toronto Star last night before heading out for a celebratory dinner.

"It rights a wrong on some levels but you cannot put a price tag on my mental strain and stress."

The money will cover her $57,000 bill for drugs with the remainder going to her legal fees for Toronto lawyer Brian Cohen, who called the decision "marvellous" proof that patients can fight the system.

Aucoin's colon cancer has spread to the liver, lungs and lymph nodes and she remains under treatment with the drug Erbitux, which she had to obtain first in Buffalo and later in Hamilton at her own expense after OHIP rejected her application for funding two years ago.

Bureaucrats first ruled the Erbitux and other drugs for which she applied were experimental and not eligible, although her own doctor recommended them as the best course of treatment and other Canadians were being sent to Buffalo for Erbitux at the time. So she arranged to get them at a private clinic in a Buffalo suburb at about half the cost of the better-known Roswell Park Cancer Institute where the province sends patients.

A subsequent appeal for coverage was rejected last November because the private clinic - run by a licensed cancer specialist also on staff at Buffalo's Mercy Hospital - was itself not licensed, as required by provincial guidelines to protect taxpayers from funding treatment at dubious clinics.

This was despite the fact that the appeal board found "no indication" the private clinic was not reputable and testimony that New York state or local law does not require such facilities to be licensed.

Marin's office had been following Aucoin's case but could not get involved until the official appeals were exhausted two months ago.

"We were shaking our heads from Day 1," Marin said. "They were fighting her every step of the way. It's an absolute calamity what happened to her."

Health Minister George Smitherman said in a statement last night that Marin's investigation prompted officials to review the out-of- country health coverage program to make it "work better for Ontario patients," including immediate steps to provide doctors with more information.

There is a need for "greater information about funding for particular treatments, to ensure that decisions about funding for out-of-country treatment are consistent and based on evidence, and to improve the quality of reasons provided when requests are denied, " the statement continued.

Out-of-country treatments can be authorized when the care is not experimental, is not available in Ontario, and when delay "would result in death or medically significant irreversible tissue damage."

In Aucoin's case, the major problems included "unintelligible" form letters she received rejecting her applications, said Marin.

"They need to stop doing form letters, they need to be more in tune with the public they serve," he added.

The apology to Aucoin came in the form of a phone call to her home yesterday afternoon by deputy health minister Ron Sapsford. "He just sort of said ... 'I realize you've had a difficult time,'" Aucoin recalled. "I accepted it, I thanked him for it."

Anonymous said...

January 31, 2007

Father speaks out on death of toddlerRead the statement in full
By Edmonton Sun

The father of a three-year-old boy who died of massive head trauma after an alleged attack by his foster parent issued a public statement through a lawyer today.

The following is the printed statement – supplied by the Edmonton law firm Engel Brubaker – in full:


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


“Regarding the impact of the untimely passing of my son. The Child and Family Services Authority system failed to provide a safe, secure, nurturing and loving environment.

“This system failed to protect my son.

“Unfortunately my son was abused and subjected to corporal punishment, which in my view are forms of torture. My son was subjected to forms of excruciating pain and neglect, until his passing.

“I am unable to comprehend how any individual could inflict theses types of injuries on my child.

“On Saturday, January 27, 2007, I held my son’s battered, starved, beaten, broken body as he suffered, until he took his last breath of life.

“My pain and suffering can not be put into words. For there are no words to truly describe what I have seen and how this tragedy has impacted me and my family.

“This horrid tragedy is incomprehensible, for the Child and Family Services Authority are to protect our children. And they failed the most precious Gift the Creator gave me, my son and his life.

“In these, the saddest days of my life, I hear many people speaking about the ways the system failed my son. People say there wasn’t enough money to ensure there were Native foster homes to care for our children. There wasn’t enough money to ensure there were social workers visiting foster homes often enough. From my point of view however, the one thing most lacking was a lack of trust. I believe there wasn’t enough trust in First Nations people to determine what is best for our own children.

“In this, you can trust. We promise that we love our children. We promise that we want our children to thrive and prosper. We promise that we want our children to change the world, so that it will be a better place for all people to live in. My son’s short life will help to fulfill that third promise, if we learn from the mistakes that have been made. If we learn from our mistakes, his death will have meaning.

“There needs to be trust, that as a community, First Nations people have the best interests of their children in mind. Because First Nations people better understand the circumstances of their people.

“There needs to be a real commitment to trusting and supporting First Nations people in finding ways to provide our own children with safe homes when their parents can not provide them. If this isn’t in or part of our current system, it should be. For our people have survived for thousands and thousands of years, effectively solving problems. This is one we can solve if entrusted to do so.

“It is we, his family who are left to grieve the death of my son. We do so knowing our wishes were not always respected, in regards to decisions that affected his life. We are left picking up the pieces without having a significant impact into the matters that affected his life and caused his loss of life. If his SACRIFICE is to have meaning there needs to be change.

“I provide this statement so you will have an understanding. And I request that all media related individuals leave all my family members alone. For this horrid tragedy has affected us to the core of our being. And we ask that out of respect and understanding, you would allow us to grieve in private.”


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The 32-year-old foster mom is charged with second-degree murder, assault causing bodily harm, aggravated assault, failure to provide the necessities of life and child abandonment.

Police were called to the woman’s west-end house Friday after the boy was rushed to Stollery

Children’s Hospital by ambulance suffering from life-threatening injuries.

The little boy died from his injuries in hospital around 11:30 p.m. Saturday.

The woman reportedly had three other children, including a second foster child, in her care.

Neither the dead child nor the accused can be identified under the Child and Youth Family Enhancement Act.

Earlier this week, Alberta’s children’s services minister Janis Tarchuk said she plans to go outside government - perhaps even outside the province - to find independent experts to sit on a panel reviewing the death. Edmonton and Area Child and Family Services is also conducting an internal review into what happened.

Anonymous said...

Lawyer angry not told of court date (7:22 p.m.)

Says media knew more about the case than she did

Mike Sadava, edmontonjournal.com

Published: Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The lawyer temporarily representing a foster mother charged with murder is angry she wasn’t notified her client had a court appearance on Tuesday.
The 32-year-old woman, wearing a navy blue sweatshirt and leg irons, was remanded in custody until Feb. 5 after a brief appearance in provincial court.
Shannon Prithipaul, who began representing the woman on Friday, said she only found about the court appearance because her husband heard about it on the radio.
“It is really frustrating that it seems the media knows more about this case than her counsel,” Prithipaul said after the court appearance.
The accused, whose name is subject to a publication ban, has been charged with second-degree murder, assault causing bodily harm, failure to provide the necessities of life and child abandonment.
An autopsy shows a three-year-old boy in her care died of head injuries.
Prithipaul said she met with her client numerous times over the weekend and gave her card to detectives.
“As far as the court date goes, I can’t speak to that because the responsibility belongs with police,” said Alberta Justice spokesman David Dear.
“Police lay the charge and they bring the person down to the bail hearing when the court date is set.”
City police spokesman Jeff Wuite said the Crown has that responsibility.
“Our conduit into the legal system is the Crown, so we give our information to them and they’re responsible for distributing it around,” Wuite said.
Prithipaul said she will pass the case to another lawyer with more experience in murder cases.
msadava@thejournal.canwest.com

Anonymous said...

http://www.wrcfs.org/repat/stolennation.htm

Stolen nation

For more than 20 years, Canada took native children from their homes and placed them with white families. Now a lost generation want its history back BY TOM LYONS

When former Indian Affairs Minister Jane Stewart made her historic apology to the aboriginal peoples of Canada on Jan. 8, 1998, she singled out native residential schools as the most reprehensible example of Canada's degrading and paternalistic Indian policies. Designed to assimilate native children into English ways and strip them of their language and culture, the schools also became notorious for sickening physical and sexual abuse.

Though none would disagree with Stewart's condemnation of residential schools, which were phased out in the 1960s, some wondered why she didn't also apologize for the equally assimilationist -- if less well-known -- strategy that followed immediately in the schools' wake: the widespread adoption of aboriginal children out to non-native families in the '60s, '70s and early '80s.

Commonly referred to as the Sixties Scoop, the practice of removing large numbers of aboriginal children from their families and giving them over to white middle-class parents was discontinued in the mid-'80s, after Ontario chiefs passed resolutions against it and a Manitoba judicial inquiry harshly condemned it.

The passage of the Child and Family Services Act of 1984 ensured that native adoptees in Ontario would be placed within their extended family, with another aboriginal family or with a non-native family that promised to respect and nurture the child's cultural heritage. Aboriginal peoples also began to play a much greater role in the child welfare agencies that served them, and the numbers of native adoptees in general began to decline as more stayed with their birth parents.

However, the act also dictated that old birth records remain sealed, unless both the birth parent and the child asked for them. This has helped keep the period in darkness and frustrated attempts by adoptees to learn about their roots. Those who now feel they were victimized by the adoption process have an extremely difficult time finding out who they are.

Donna Marchand, a 44-year-old Toronto lawyer, is launching a court challenge against the Harris government to strike down the sealed birth records provisions of the Child and Family Services Act.

An adopted child herself, she recalls being terrorized into denying her origin: "When I was about three-and-a-half, it started coming to my attention that I was adopted. My cousins told me. I was only three years old, but I was aware that I was different. I just didn't fit in. I was getting called a little bastard. And I asked my adopted mother what adoption meant. She said, 'Don't ever say that again -- if your father hears you he'll kill you.' He'd been sitting there in his drunken stupor. He'd go on binges for days.

"I've lived my whole life being native because I was called a squaw. I don't look white enough. And I was in working-class, real WASP, downtown Toronto. I got called a squaw and Donna Wanna, and I got tied to my share of trees and got my hair hacked off."

Marchand's constitutional challenge involves Section 7 and Section 15 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, according to her lawyer, Jennifer Scott. "Section 7 is the right to life, liberty and security of person," says Scott. "And Section 15 is the equality rights. The 15 provisions are that adoptees are sort of a group that is protected. But different communities of adoptees are particularly affected, and it has a tremendous impact on communities like native people -- where they don't know who their mom and dad are, but they're assimilated into families that don't even know their culture, their history, their background. It goes to who they are."

PERMANENT SCARS
Just as the closing of the residential schools did not mean their legacy of suffering instantly vanished, so the end of the Sixties Scoop did not mean that all the native adoptees who were farmed out to abusive or alienating non-native families suddenly found themselves with a clear-cut identity or a secure place in society.

Indeed, many still found themselves not only "torn between two worlds," but literally unsure if they were native at all, and not French or Italian as their adoptive parents claimed. Their birth records were sealed and often amended to include the names of to include the names of the adoptive, rather than biological, parents. Moreover, their adoption records were in many cases inaccurate, incomplete, falsified or simply missing. As a result, many native adoptees who did try to locate their birth parents or confirm their native status wasted literally decades on failed searches or frustrating battles with Children's Aid authorities or Indian Affairs officials.

Suzanne Bezuk, a spokesperson for the Ontario Ministry of Community and Social Services, says ""non-identifying information" can be made available to adult adoptees without their birth parents' consent.

"And for aboriginal peoples in particular, in the case of native clients, the name of the band and reservation can be provided."

However, aboriginal status and band names were seldom recorded on the original birth and adoption records in the '60s and '70s. So even this "non-identifying information" is rarely available.

Marchand cannot even be sure whether her mother was in fact native. "All I know is, it's very typical for native women, and my Uncle Frank says we're native. And my Aunt June looks native. Me and my two sisters, we look real native. But my mother, she internalized the shame of being a native woman. Look what she put down [on the adoption record]: 'Ethnicity not stated.' It's a shame. A lot of native women don't say, because they were going to lose their babies, and they wanted them to be adopted by good people, and good people weren't going to adopt 'little bastard squaws.' "

Even now, researchers trying to determine exactly how many aboriginal children were removed from their families during the Scoop say the task is all but impossible because adoption records from the '60s and '70s rarely indicated aboriginal status (as they are now required to).

Those records which are complete, however, suggest the adoption of native children by non-native families was pervasive, at least in Northern Ontario and Manitoba. In her March, 1999 report, "Our Way Home: A Report to the Aboriginal Healing and Wellness Strategy on the Repatriation of Aboriginal People Removed by the Child Welfare System," author Janet Budgell notes that in the Kenora region in 1981, "a staggering 85 per cent of the children in care were First Nations children, although First Nations people made up only 25 per cent of the population. The number of First Nations children adopted by non-First Nations parents increased fivefold from the early 1960s to the late 1970s. Non-First Nations families accounted for 78 per cent of the adoptions of First Nations children."

Similarly, "One Manitoba community of 800 people lost 150 children to adoption between 1966-1980," reports Budgell, who prepared the report in conjunction with Native Child and Family Services of Toronto.

Though it is rarely possible to determine precise numbers, the practice of native adoption was widespread enough to be denounced as "cultural genocide" by Edwin C. Kimelman, the presiding judge at the 1985 Manitoba inquiry.

Many native adoptees suffered from not only geographical displacement and cultural confusion but also emotional emptiness, violence, physical and sexual abuse, and drug or alcohol abuse.

"My brother was adopted at four years old," recalls one of the birth relatives of native adoptees interviewed for "Our Way Home." "His adoptive parents divorced when he was 12 and they gave him back to the agency like returning merchandise. His life after that was a living hell of abuse, violence and alcoholism. My brother hanged himself at 20 years old."

Joanne Dallaire is a native adoptee who conducts healing sessions for adoptees at the Anishnawbe Health Centre in Toronto. She too was told by her adoptive family that she wasn't native. "I myself was raised by a non-native, and my whole history was denied. Like in school, I was teased. You know how kids can be rather cruel with each other, and I was called a squaw and stuff like that, and when I'd come home, I'd be like crying and stuff, and they'd say, 'You're not Indian, you're French. So you make sure you tell them you're French.' It was years and years of misinformation."

Dallaire's attempts to find her birth mother or at least learn the truth of her native status began early. "The first time I started searching was when I was 15, so that was 1966. But it wasn't until I was an adult and on my own that I really began to search. I didn't have any proof, either, until 1998. Anishnawbe [native] people would come up to me and say, 'Oh, so you're Anishnawbe.' And I'd say, 'No, no, I'm French.' And I remember one man said to me -- I remember profoundly -- he looked at me and he said, 'Someone's lying to you. You're Anishnawbe.'

"I remember when I got the phone call from the social services department. One of my first questions was: 'Is there native in my background?' So my mother wanted to know how I'd feel about it if I was, and I said, 'Very pleased,' because my whole spirituality and stuff was drawn to native culture. So I've come to find out that I am [First Nations] -- to what degree, I don't know, because my mother is still very evasive about my father. But at least I know part of my heritage is Cree -- James Bay Cree."

Donna Marchand's own search for her birth mother took 16 years through the Ministry of Community and Social Services and the Adoption Disclosure Record. When government officials finally contacted her in the spring of 1999, they said her mother had died 26 years earlier.

"It's a big area that most people never even thought of," says Dallaire, "because it goes so quietly and privately. It's not as out there as the residential schools. And because everything's secret, you can literally throw your hands in the air and go, 'Well?' You quickly run up against one wall and then another, so it takes perseverance, like with Donna having to fight and fight again to get what she wants. Most people get battle-weary and never win."

WAS IT GENOCIDE?
According to the UN Declaration of Indigenous Rights, Justice Kimelman's description of the Sixties Scoop as cultural genocide is accurate. It reads: "Indigenous peoples have the collective right to live in freedom, peace and security as distinct people with guarantees against genocide or any other act of violence, including the removal of indigenous children from their families and communities under any pretext."

So why was the wholesale removal of aboriginal children not considered a crime, or even a wrong, that the Minister of Indian Affairs felt obliged to redress along with the residential school system?

The answer isn't that complicated, says Kenn Richard, director of Native Child and Family Services of Toronto and the man who commissioned the "Our Way Home" report. "British colonialism has a certain process and formula, and it's been applied around the world with different populations, often indigenous populations, in different countries that they choose to colonize," says Richard. "And that is to make people into good little Englishmen. Because the best ally you have is someone just like you. One of the ones you hear most about is obviously the residential schools, and residential schools have gotten considerable media attention over the past decade or so. And so it should, because it had a dramatic impact that we're still feeling today. But child welfare to a large extent picked up where residential schools left off.

"The lesser-known story is the child welfare story and its assimilationist program. And you have to remember that none of this was written down as policy: 'We'll assimilate aboriginal kids openly through the residential schools. And after we close the residential schools we'll quietly pick it up with child welfare.' It was never written down. But it was an organic process, part of the colonial process in general."

Anonymous said...

The secrecy, and alleged privacy regulations that are spewed out to protect so called "wards", and others are never to protect them.
They are to protect the system itself so that it can never be responsible.

As Jeffrey's death was veiled under this same argument by the CCAS, so is every other death when it comes to child welfare agencies.

After all it was only in 2006 that the government even had an idea of how many children were killed under the so called watchful eye of numerous CAS agencies.

Jeffrey's death has also brought out several other problems with CAS which is a good thing, as tragic and as preventable his death and murder was.

Victims of children who were killed in care, should not be forced to live under the so called privacy myths spewed by child welfare agencies, as they protect the agencies almost always - not anyone else. It seems to late for them to be talking about protection etc.. when yet another child was killed in the system.

The Ombudsman cannot get in there soon enough in Ontario. For anyone reading this blog please write to support Bill 88.

Anonymous said...

The other thing about child welfare agencies overall, is that their version of things, is also almost never accurate, and in a huge contrast to what the actual people who have been in the system have to say overall.

Unlike CAS agencies, those who were and are in the system do not have anything to hide!

Anonymous said...

And one wonders why the child in Edmonton was even taken in the first place? Was the family actually abusive, and the father?

Or did another pinhead social worker take the child due to social cleansing, racism, or simply to pay the system with yet another child that they could obtain for funding?

Anonymous said...

And it was bad enough in the past with the abuse alone, now the so called safer families are killing the children that they are being paid to take care of. Maybe the children were killed in scores in yesteryears, but that too is a cover-up?

Anonymous said...

For anyone reading this blog - do go out and speak directly to those who were in foster care, and adopted by CAS, as well as the parents of childen taken. Keep an open mind, and listen to those who have experienced CAS, it will be a great enlightener, and shocking as well.

Don't listen to the system, listen to those who were in it - and boy does one mass have a lot to say!

Anonymous said...

To the person that said to listen to John Dunn, and others I totally agree.

In fact to get a glimpse into the hell of child welfare for anyone interested, listen to those who were in care. Unlike the CAS, they are not speaking under a veil of secrecy.

A program in Toronto, afforded Mr. Dunn, and others to be heard. For more information you can listen to former wards at this link.

A must listen, as it is not the minority in child welfare, it is the majority, and the further exposure of the wheels of its hell.

The programs are archived, and another good site for insight into the CAS.

You can look up John Dunn, and former wards to hear about their personal experiences with CAS.

http://theadoptionshow.com/

Anonymous said...

Death throws spotlight on Alberta's foster care
Updated Mon. Jan. 29 2007 11:11 PM ET
CTV news website

Canadian Press

EDMONTON -- The death of a young foster boy has thrown the spotlight on Alberta's struggle to cope with a shortage of foster parents and a high turnover of social workers made worse by an economic boom.

Edmonton police charged the three-year-old boy's foster mother with second-degree murder on the weekend after the toddler died in hospital from injuries that are reported to have included severe bruising and massive brain swelling.

Investigations into his death must consider the pressures facing the foster parent system or more children will fall between the cracks, advocates said Monday.

"The system is stressed and we need foster parents like there is no tomorrow,'' said a veteran front-line social worker who declined to be named.

"Was this foster parent properly qualified? Did the case worker actually see the child? Was there a delay because a case worker couldn't get there because they were overloaded?''

The woman charged is reported to be a single mother who had two of her own children and a second foster child in her care. She can't be publicly identified under provisions of Alberta's Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act.

Social workers were wondering if the woman, who worked part-time in the health faculty of an Alberta college for the last five months, called a special 24-hour crisis line set up for foster parents needing help.

"Every foster parent in Alberta is able to call the crisis line. It is not unusual for us to be called in the middle of the night and go and pick up kids,'' the social worker said.

Alberta Children's Services estimates there about 6,000 children living with foster parents or relatives under government supervision in about 3,100 homes.

Norman Brownell of the Alberta Foster Parents Association said there has been a drop in the number of foster parents at the same time that more people are moving to the province to cash in on the energy-fuelled boom.

He also said it is becoming more difficult to find foster parents willing to accept high-needs children suffering from problems such as fetal alcohol syndrome.

"It puts a lot of stress on foster homes,'' said Brownell, who added the boy's death has shocked the foster parent community.

"We need to fix the situation. We need more foster homes. The kids don't stop coming. They are coming at a rapid pace and it puts a strain on the system.''

Children's Services Minister Janis Tarchuk was tight-lipped about the challenges facing the foster child system.

She declined to answer questions about the number of foster parents, the turnover rate among social workers or the government's policy on allowing single people to be foster parents.

Tarchuk would only say that a government review of the boy's death will be broad in scope.

"We will take this review very seriously,'' said Tarchuk, who called the boy's death on the weekend an isolated incident.

"This is a time for questions. Albertans have an awful lot of questions.''

The Alberta Union of Provincial Employees estimates that more than half the staff who work for Children's Services have been on the job for no more than about two years.

The turnover is especially high for those providing front-line services such as case workers, who deal with the children, and support workers, who meet with foster parents.

"The job is just too stressful. You don't get the support you need to do your job,'' said a social worker, who suggested Children's Services workers are the top users of Alberta's government employee assistance plan.

"You can't sleep at night. You become depressed. We have the youngest workforce with the highest turnover.''

AUPE officials say the government has refused to sign a workload standards agreement with the union for staff who deal with foster parents.

Alberta Liberal Weslyn Mather said the death of the boy and the calls by foster parents and social workers for change will be difficult for the government to ignore.

She said the life of a child has been lost and Albertans deserve to know why.

"We talk about family values over and over in this government, and yet we are not providing the adequate resources to support the children that we take from a home and say `we can do better,''' she said.

"This is not better. This is not acceptable. We need to look at the causes and we need to act quickly.''

Anonymous said...

Alberta is also taking massive amounts of children for trivial concerns, and farming them to total strangers under a shield of unaccountability, secrecy, and crazed confidentiality myths. They cannot even publish the name of the child killed. It is ridiculous......... and that too needs to change.

another article...


Toddler died of head injuries, foster mother in Edmonton court
Last Updated: Tuesday, January 30, 2007 | 4:50 PM MT
CBC News

A three-year-old boy rushed to an Edmonton hospital on the weekend died of head injuries, shows an autopsy report released Tuesday, when his foster mother also appeared in court on a second-degree murder charge.

The child was taken to Stollery Children's Hospital from a west-end home early Friday, and died Saturday. The 32-year-old foster mother charged in connection with his death can't be named under Alberta's Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act.

A foster child was rushed to Stollery Children's Hospital from this west-end home early Friday morning.
(CBC News) Court documents filed by the Edmonton Police allege the foster mother committed assault causing bodily harm on the little boy from Dec. 5 — the day she began to care for him — until Friday.

She is also charged with unlawfully abandoning or exposing the child to danger on Thursday, the day before he was taken to the hospital.

The autopsy showed the child died of cranial trauma.

The foster mother, who was in leg shackles and handcuffs, showed no emotion during her Tuesday morning court appearance.

Continue Article

"She's coping as well as she can, but she's having a very hard time," said her lawyer, Shannon Prithipaul. "Her family is backing her 100 per cent, and she has friends in the community and they're all very concerned about her."

The single mother was working part-time and had two children of her own.

She had become a foster parent less than two months ago, and had taken in two foster children. Alberta Children's Services have taken all the children into protective custody.

No warning signs, union leader says
Government workers did not spot any warning signs in this child's case, said social worker Maureen Braun, chair of Alberta Union of Provincial Employees Local 006, which represents child-care, family and social workers.

"Everything seemed normal," Braun said. "Right now people are so traumatized by this whole incident. You do the best you can during the day and hope that children are safe."

Alberta has 10,249 children in care. Braun said there are simply too few foster parents for too many foster children, and social workers are left scrambling to try to hold the system together.

"The workload is very heavy. The cases are very complex. The turnover for front-end staff is very high. They're not staying because of the heavy case load."

'Social workers feel overburdened'
Weslyn Mather, Alberta Liberal critic for children's services, said the average social worker is handling more than double the expected caseload, leading to predictable problems.

"The social workers feel overburdened, go home thinking 'I didn't do everything I should have done today or I didn't pay enough attention to this because of this other factor I had to deal with.' So there is burnout."

Katherine Jones, director of the Alberta Foster Parent Association and a foster parent herself, said the child's death left her in shock.

"It made me feel ill. And I thought, how can this happen in this system that has been created specifically to ensure the safety and well-being of children?"

Children's services minister calls review Children's Services Minister Janis Tarchuk called the tragic death an isolated incident, but she is looking for answers about what happened and to determine whether the system is overburdened.

"I think these are all very, very important questions, but that's exactly why I chose to ask for the special case review, because I do think having a review of the system is what's going to be very helpful in helping all of us understand the situation."

Tarchuk could not say how long the review will take to complete.

Anonymous said...

Minister wants answers after death of boy in foster care

KATHERINE HARDING
Source: Globe and Mail Newspaper

EDMONTON -- Alberta's Children Services Minister has pledged to disclose as much information as legally possible after a special probe of allegations that a three-year-old child was murdered by his Edmonton foster mother.

"This is a time for questions. Albertans have an awful lot of questions," Janis Tarchuk said yesterday. "This special case review is how we get our answers."

Ms. Tarchuk also promised that the probe would look broadly at the province's foster-care system, including whether there is a shortage of support staff and foster parents.

The toddler died late Saturday night. He had been rushed by ambulance to an Edmonton hospital from a two-storey home around 3 a.m. on Friday with life-threatening head injuries. A police investigation began soon after emergency service workers notified officers that the injuries were suspicious.

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A 32-year-old single mother who works at a local college is in police custody. She has been charged with second-degree murder, assault causing bodily harm, aggravated assault, child abandonment and failure to provide the necessities of life.

None of the parties involved can be identified due to child-protection laws.

Shortly before the boy died on Saturday, the toddler's father told a reporter that his son had bruises and burns on his body and had suffered serious brain damage.

The man said his son was taken into provincial government care on Dec. 6, 2006, and that police told him the boy was forced to sleep in a garage at night in the foster home.

According to neighbours on the accused woman's tree-lined street in west Edmonton, she had two children and another foster child at the time of the alleged crime.

Besides the government's special case review, a fatality inquiry into the boy's death will eventually be called. An inquiry is automatically ordered whenever a child dies in government care.

Edmonton and Area Child and Family Services, the agency responsible for the city's foster-care system, will also hold a review. The agency is responsible for about 1,600 children who live in more than 800 foster homes in the Edmonton area. About 6,000 children are living with foster parents or relatives under government supervision across Alberta.

An Edmonton Family Services spokeswoman wouldn't talk specifically about the dead child's case. However, Cheryl Oxford said that applicant foster parents are put through a rigorous screening process. She also said foster parents are in regular contact with the agency and visits are made to each home at least once a month.

"We are all in complete shock over this tragedy. What changes do we need to make to ensure this doesn't happen again? I don't have the answer," Katherine Jones, executive director of the Alberta Foster Parents Association, said in an interview.

Alberta has one of the best child-welfare systems in the country, and while she's "heard rumblings" that caseloads for foster parent support staff are too high, she hasn't seen hard evidence to back it up, Ms. Jones added.

Weslyn Mather, Alberta Liberal critic for Children's Services, is concerned that the government doesn't have more answers about the boy's death. She also wants to know why the number of foster parents in Alberta keeps dropping annually.

Alberta NDP Leader Brian Mason is concerned that the province's child-welfare system lacks staff, such as social workers, who can properly support and supervise foster parents.

Anonymous said...

It is always the same bloody thing, more money, more taken, more workers, more that foster. Yet no one entertains that far too many are in care in the first place. The foster parents groups etc. in response to this case, make it sound like foster care is a glorious, wonderful bubble of safety - when it is well known that foster care and abuse go hand in hand. It is insain.

Should they also stop taking thousands and focus on actual cases of abuse the system would improve overnight.

Foster stranger danger care where everyone is safe except one's family.

Anonymous said...

The problem is not just in Canada, it extends to the United States and elsewhere too.

http://www.liftingtheveil.org/foster04.htm

A Critical Look At The Foster Care System:
How Widespread a Problem?


HOW WIDESPREAD A PROBLEM?
One of the most comprehensive surveys of abuse in foster care was conducted in conjunction with a Baltimore lawsuit. Trudy Festinger, head of the Department of Research at the New York University School of Social Work, determined that over 28 per cent of the children in state care had been abused while in the system.

Reviewed cases depicted "a pattern of physical, sexual and emotional abuses" inflicted upon children in the custody of the Baltimore Department.

Cases reviewed as the trial progressed revealed children who had suffered continuous sexual and physical abuse or neglect in foster homes known to be inadequate by the Department. Cases included that of sexual abuse of young girls by their foster fathers, and that of a young girl who contracted gonorrhea of the throat as a result of sexual abuse in an unlicenced foster home.[1]

In Louisiana, a study conducted in conjunction with a civil suit found that 21 percent of abuse or neglect cases involved foster homes.[2]

In another Louisiana case, one in which thousands of pages of evidence were reviewed, and extensive testimony and depositions were taken, it was discovered that hundreds of foster children had been shipped out of the state to Texas.

Stephen Berzon of the Children's Defense Fund explained the shocking findings of the court before a Congressional subcommitte, saying: "children were physically abused, handcuffed, beaten, chained, and tied up, kept in cages, and overdrugged with psychotropic medication for institutional convenience."[3]

In Missouri, a 1981 study found that 57 percent of the sample children were placed in foster care settings that put them "at the very least at a high risk of abuse or neglect."[4]

A later report issued in 1987 found that 25 percent of the children in the Missouri sample group had been victims of "abuse or inappropriate punishment."

Children's Rights Project attorney Marcia Robinson Lowry described the findings of the Missouri review before the Select Committee on Children, Youth and Families:

The most troubling result of the Kansas City review was the level of abuse, undetected or unreported, in foster homes. 25% of the children in the sample were the subject of abuse or inappropriate punishment. 88% of those reports were not properly investigated.[5]

SEXUAL ABUSE
A recent class action lawsuit filed on behalf of foster children in the State of Arizona serves well to indicate the extent of sexual abuse of children in state care.

The suit alleges that over 500 of an estimated 4,000 foster children, a figure representing at least 12.5 percent of the state's foster care population, have been sexually abused while in state care.

The action also charged that "the acts and omissions of Defendants were done in bad faith, with malice, intent or deliberate indifference to and/or reckless disregard for the health, safety and rights of the Plaintiffs."[6]

But the problems associated with foster placements in Arizona are not limited to sexual abuse. During a recent two year period, one foster child died on average every seven and a half weeks in the state of Arizona. Four of them were reported as having been "viciously beaten to death" by their foster parents.[7]

The sexual abuse of children in government custody would appear to be a particularly widespread problem.

In Maryland, a 1992 study found that substantiated allegations of sexual abuse in foster care are four times higher than that found among the general population.[8]

In Kentucky, sex abuse in foster care was "all over the newspapers," according to department head Larry Michalczyk.

The former Commissioner explained that within a few years of time, his state saw a child die while in residential placement, a lawsuit filed against a DSS staff member on behalf of a foster child, and legislative inquiries into its child protection system.[9]

Kentucky would prove to be a problematic state, as case reviewers would find that only 55 percent of the children in the state's care had the legally mandated case plans.[10]

Perhaps the most significant indicator of the true extent of sexual abuse in foster care was a survey of alumni of what was described as an "exemplary" and "model" program in the Pacific Northwest, argues University professor Richard Wexler.

"In this lavishly-funded program caseloads were kept low and both workers and foster parents got special training. This was not ordinary foster care, this was Cadillac Foster Care," he explained.

In this "exemplary" program, 24 percent of the girls responding to a survey said they were victims of actual or attempted sexual abuse in the one home in which they had stayed the longest. Significantly, they were not even asked about the other foster homes in which they had stayed.[11]

The Children's Rights Project has initiated a number of successful civil suits against foster care and child welfare systems. One such landmark suit was brought against the Illinois foster care system. Attorney Benjamin Wolf instituted the legal action after concluding that the states foster care system functioned as "a laboratory experiment to produce the sexual abuse of children."[12]

Yet by many accounts, the sexual abuse of children in the state's care has increased along with the increase in placements, successful lawsuits notwithstanding. Even Patrick Murphy, the outspoken Cook County Public Guardian, admits that sexual abuse of children in the care of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services has probably increased.[13]


SYSTEMWIDE ABUSES
According to an Associated Press investigation, in nearly half the states, cases take years to come to completion as agencies repeatedly fail to investigate abuse reports in a timely fashion, find permanent homes for children, or even keep track of those children under their care and custody.[14]

For various reasons, ranging from failure to provide adequate supervision and oversight of workers, to failure to provide safe child care facilities, 22 states and the District of Columbia have been ruled inadequate by the courts and now operate under some form of judicial supervision.[15]

But the reader should not be reassured that such problems are isolated only to those states which have been successfully litigated against. As Children's Rights Project attorney Marcia Robinson Lowry explained to a Congressional subcommittee: "We have turned down requests from a number of other states to institute additional lawsuits, solely because of a lack of resources."[16]

A 1986 survey conducted by the National Foster Care Education Project found that foster children were 10 times more likely to be abused than children among the general population. A follow-up study in 1990 by the same group produced similar results.[17]

The American Civil Liberties Union's Children's Rights Project similarly estimates that a child in the care of the state is ten times more likely to be abused than one in the care of his parents.[18]

In a legal action brought by the Children's Rights Project against the District of Columbia child welfare system, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia found that:

because of the appalling manner in which the system is managed, children remain subject to continuing abuse and neglect at the hands of heartless parents and guardians, even after the DHS has received reports of their predicaments. The court also found that youngsters who have been taken into the custody of the District's foster-care system languish in inappropriate placements, with scarce hope of returning to their families or being adopted.
The Court also found that the agency entrusted with the care of children "has consistently evaded numerous responsibilities placed on it by local and federal statutes." Among the deficiencies cited was "failure to provide services to families to prevent the placement of children in foster care."[19]

Frustrated by the lack of progress after years of litigation, child advocates succeeded in placing the District of Columbia child welfare system into full receivership in 1995, making it the first such system in the nation to come under the direct control of the Court.[20]

In a Pennsylvania case, the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit wrote in a 1994 decision: "It is a matter of common knowledge (and it is not disputed here) that in recent years the system run by DHS and overseen by DPW has repeatedly failed to fulfill its mandates, and unfortunately has often jeopardized the welfare of the children in its care."

The original complaint, filed by the Children's Rights Project on April 4, 1990, alleged that systemic deficiencies prevent the Pennsylvania department from performing needed services, and that it consistently violates the due process rights of both parents and children:

Specifically, plaintiffs claim that these amendments confer the right not to be deprived of a family relationship; the right not to be harmed while in state custody; the right to placement in the least restrictive, most appropriate placement; the right to medical and psychiatric treatment; the right to care consistent with competent professional judgment; and the right not to be deprived of liberty or property interests without due process of law.[21]
One of the plaintiffs in the Pennsylvania suit was "Tara M." on whose behalf the ACLU charged the city of Philadelphia with neglect. Human Services Commissioner Joan Reeves guaranteed the young girl an adoptive home with specially trained parents.

In August of 1996, Tara M. would make the headlines once again, as her new foster parents were sentenced for "one of the most appalling cases of child abuse" Common Pleas Court Judge Carolyn E. Temin said she had ever heard.

Nine-year-old Tara has had three skin grafts and wears a protective stocking in recovery from burns over more than half her body. Police said the foster parents punished the girl by stripping her, forcing her into the bathtub and dousing her with buckets of scalding water. This was the very best of care the city could provide for Tara, a girl who had already endured years of physical and sexual abuse in the several foster homes into which she had been placed over the years.[22]

The Children's Rights Project has also been involved in suits against child welfare systems in the states of Connecticut, Kansas, Louisiana and New Mexico, and the cities of Kansas City, Missouri; Louisville, Milwaukee, and New York City.[23]

Says Children's Rights Project attorney Marcia Robinson Lowry: "There are a lot of injuries, a lot of abuse. The most significant thing is the psychological death of so many of these kids. Kids are being destroyed every day, destroyed by a government-funded system set out to help them."[24]

In California, as of 1989 Los Angeles County alone had paid $18 million in settlements to children who had been abused while in its custody.

One such case involved a nine-year-old boy who weighed only 28 lbs., and who could hardly speak after the suicides of his parents. County social workers failed to visit him in his foster home for four months.

During that time, he was beaten, sodomized, burned on his genitals and nearly drowned by his foster parents. He became a spastic paraplegic. By 1990 the state was threatening to take over Los Angeles County's child welfare system.[25]

The California-based Little Hoover Commission, in examining the functioning of the foster care system determined: "That children can come to harm--and even die--while supposedly under the protection of foster care is not in dispute." Some cases cited by the Commission included:

A foster mother arrested in Los Angeles on charges of beating to death her 23-month-old foster son, allegedly over toilet training problems.
A Los Angeles woman arrested for the attempted murder of a 19-month-old foster child who she said fell from a jungle gym. Doctors believed the severe head injuries, which may result in blindness, could only have come from abuse.
A Sacramento woman who was injured in a car accident who voluntarily placed her daughter in a foster care facility. During a tantrum by the child, an employee of the facility wrapped her in a blanket and squatted on her. She was later discovered dead.[26]

MINIMIZING THE ABUSES
Child welfare departments are rarely forthcoming with information about the actual extent of harm that comes to children in their care. It is largely through audits and casereadings associated with legal actions that the actual extent of abuses in the foster care system come to light.

The reasons for this may not be as complex as they are often made to appear.

Child welfare officials who have managed to entrench themselves in lifetime civil service positions in the more desirable nooks and crannies of the child welfare system have a vested interest to protect, and those who run public bureaucracies have devised their own "rationalized myths" to protect their interests, argues sociologist John Hagedorn.

The myths of "doing good" benefit those who are advantaged by existing institutional arrangements. Even as politicians are constantly criticizing "bureaucracy" and "bureaucrats," they approve millions of dollars worth of public funds to keep the bureaucracies running. As Hagedorn succinctly explains:

It's simply too risky for bureaucrats to admit that their agency may not be "doing good." The erosion of that myth may lead someone to investigate them or even propose cutting their budgets.[27]
But if there is one thing that is riskier for bureaucrats than admitting that their system may not be doing good, it is that it is doing far more harm than good.

Thus we find situations such as that in which the California Department's legal division discovered a "secret room" in the Los Angeles Department containing 15 filing cabinets holding approximately 3,000 case files on foster care facilities that had problems which were not reported to the state.

In one case, ten foster children slept on the floor of a garage, while ten more were crammed into an upstairs bedroom. Three had been abused, one with a fractured skull and two broken limbs. Yet the home was not closed until months after the conditions were discovered.[28]

Thus we find caseworkers in a Florida Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services office running files relating to a botched investigation through a paper-shredder.[29]

Thus we find a New York City caseworker indicating as "unfounded" the repeated rapes of a young girl in institutional care, notwithstanding the testimony of credible witnesses.[30]

Thus we find an agency administrator in Oklahoma quietly dismissing two agency employees accused of the sexual abuse of foster children without so much as a blot on their records.[31]

Thus we find what was described as a "whitewash of wrongdoing" in an edited audit of a child welfare office in Utah, and death threats made against the rare brave legislator who dared to push for the public release of the unexpurgated document.[32]

Thus we find a report of system-wide abuses at the Columbus-Maryville "shelter" in Illinois suppressed by Cook County Public Guardian Patrick Murphy.[33]


THE QUIET ABUSES
With the high rate of multiple placements that most foster children endure, the possibility that they may experience overt physical or sexual abuse becomes an increasing certainty with each move. Yet even those children who are not subjected to overt physical or sexual abuse in state care often endure conditions tantamount to abuse.

Due to the overuse of foster care, the high number of children in custody often results in children being placed on a bed-available basis.[34]

The number of conventional foster homes in the public sector has dropped from 125,000 in 1988 to 100,000 today--and the "exodus continues," says Gordon Evans, information director for the National Foster Parent Association in Houston.

Evans notes that the average number of children per home is 3.7--up from about 1.4 in 1983--and he estimates that "tens of thousands" care for six, seven, and eight youngsters at a time.[35]

Because of the shortage of conventional foster homes, and due in no small measure to the unwillingness of child welfare agencies to provide meaningful services to families, children continue to be shuttled off to institutional or residential placements on a bed-available basis.

Julie and her twin brother Juan were two such children. They were placed with their grandmother who tried to obtain needed services for them. The agency neglected to provide services, instead shuttling them in and out of five placements in which they often failed to receive proper medical care for their health problems.

The agency then sent Julie and Juan, at the age of two, to an institution for adolescent boys. When their grandmother visited them she discovered that Julie had been physically abused. The twins were then placed with a foster mother who again abused them, while failing to provide proper medical care.

Juan, after suffering a great deal of pain, died at age 3 before he could be returned to his grandmother. Julie's condition worsened after her brother's death, and she died at age four. The advocacy group Children's Rights sued the city of New York for damages, and a jury awarded $87,500 to Julie's estate. Her surviving sister plans to use the money to attend college.[36]

Julie and Juan's story is in many respects typical. Because of the shortage of conventional foster homes due to the high number of children being unnecessarily placed in care, children often have labels assigned arbitrarily for purposes of placement.

Children may end up in a place like the Hegeman Diagnostic Center in Brooklyn, where a twelve-year-old girl who had been raped in a foster home was brought--only to be sexually abused by other girls at the center.

"We believe that assaults, sexual and otherwise, occur daily at the center," said Karen Freedman of Lawyers for Children.[37]

Or they may wind up in a private residential treatment center like Indian Oaks in Manteno, Illinois, on the grounds of what used to be the state mental institution.

"Indian Oaks occupies one building, but the rest is desolate, empty, broken buildings," says Peter Schmiedel, supervising attorney of the Special Litigations Team in the Office of the Public Guardian. "It's something out of a bad, eerie movie."

Says Schmiedel: "If ever you want to see something terrible, go to the DCFS intake shelter at Columbus-Maryville. Go downstairs where they keep the teenagers. The place used to be a morgue. It's a room without windows, crowded, wall-to-wall beds."

These beds were created in response to DCFS saying they need more beds, adds Schmiedel. "It's market-driven forces, children as industry."

Part of Schmiedel's job is to go through unusual incident reports. "We must get two or three hundred a week," he says, some of which include serious reports of physical and sexual abuse in treatment centers and foster homes. "It's frightening--we don't know which cases are the most serious."

"You see what some parents do to their kids, but then you see what happens to kids who are removed from their homes and put into foster homes... I mean, the stories are grotesque."[38]

Or consider the plight of those foster wards locked in detention in the San Francisco Youth Guidance Center Facility--maintained in small locked cells alongside alleged juvenile offenders who are themselves awaiting adjudication of their cases. A grand jury found the conditions endured by these children to be far worse than that endured by adult criminals in the County prison.[39]


THE SILENT NEGLECT
Even for those fortunate enough not to find themselves warehoused in glorified prisons, mental hospitals or congregate care facilities, overcrowding, medical and educational neglect are still the norm for many of the nation's foster children.

A 1993 action filed in Utah is in many ways typical. The National Center for Youth Law filed the class-action on behalf of about 1,400 children in foster care and another 10,000 alleged to have been abused and neglected.

The action charged that the state failed to provide adequately trained caseworkers, medical treatment and education to children in its care, that it used unlicensed foster homes and homes that did not meet federal standards. It also alleged that children bounce around in the system and languish in foster care. A subsequent legislative audit largely confirmed the allegations.[40]

By 1994, the Utah legislature approved what the Governor called a "SWAT Team approach" to handling the system wide deficiencies in its foster care and child protective services programs.[41]

By 1995 it had established "Judicial M*A*S*H units," courtrooms with temporary judges to handle the backlog of hundreds of children waiting for rulings on their cases.[42]

Also typical of recent actions is a Youth Law Center suit in California which accused Eloise Anderson, director of the Department of Social Services, of refusing to carry out state and federal laws which require audits of county child welfare programs.

Among the deficiencies cited in the lawsuit: "children in California's child welfare system have been subjected to inadequate supervision, substandard conditions and inadequate health care and education."[43]

On a national level, the General Accounting Office recently examined the issue of whether the nation's foster children were being adequately serviced with respect to their health care needs. The GAO found that:

despite foster care agency regulations requiring comprehensive routine health care, an estimated 12 percent of young foster children receive no routine health care, 34 percent receive no immunizations, and 32 percent have some identified health needs that are not met
an estimated 78 percent of young foster children are at high risk for human immunodeficiency virus as a result of parental drug abuse, yet only about 9 percent of foster children are tested for HIV
young foster children placed with relatives receive fewer health-related services than children placed with nonrelative foster parents, possibly since relative caregivers receive less monitoring and assistance from caseworkers
that the Department of Health and Human Services has not designated any technical assistance to assist states with health-related programs for foster children and does not audit states' compliance with health-related safeguards for foster children.[44]
As for the educational needs of children in state care, the situation is equally as distressing.

Miami attorney Karen Gievers, former President of the Florida Bar Association, filed a lawsuit in 1996, alleging that while 73 percent of Florida children among the general population graduate from high school or get an equivalent diploma, less than half of the state's foster children do.[45]

In 1995, a suit was filed in Florida against its Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services. The suit sought to shut down the Department, forcing HRS to stop taking children into foster care until it could better aid the 9,300 children already under its supervision. According to Howard Davidson, director of the American Bar Association's Center on Children and the Law:

You could carbon-copy the lawsuit filed in Florida in every state. . . We have a child welfare system that's near collapse.[46]
Even for those children who are not necessarily subjected to overt physical or sexual while in state care, life in state care often fails to provide them with permanence or stability.

The Edna McConnell Clark Foundation reports that most foster care placements bear no resemblence to the ideal short term stay on the way to family reunification. Rather, "the devastating norm for foster children is multiple moves, extended stays, and no stable family ties."[47]

Or, as Bruce Boyer, supervising attorney for the Children and Family Justice Center of Northwestern Law School notes, "there are a set of harms that follow a kid in foster care even if they are treated as well as the foster care system is capable of treating children. For those kinds of harms there is no mechanism for holding decision makers accountable; the only one who suffers is the child."[48]

The most tragic aspect of all this is that most of the children subjected to the abuses of foster care don't need to be there. And, it is largely because the system is flooded with so many children that don't belong in care that these abuses continue to mount.

The situation is perhaps best summarized by a California based Santa Clara County Grand Jury report. "The Grand Jury did not see clear and convincing evidence that the foster care system operates with the best interest of the child in mind. It did find that the interest of the child often took a back seat to the interest of others.[49]

Anonymous said...

Legislation only protects boy's accused murderer

Paula Simons
The Edmonton Journal


Tuesday, January 30, 2007


More Columns By This Writer
:: So maybe you're not outraged by the catch and release of street people

:: Foster mom's side of story still unclear

:: Upgrader alley could lead to enormous changes

:: John Poole's practical philanthropy an example we all should follow

:: Brothers denied reasons why airline treated them as threat

:: Early adventurer put Edmonton on the map

:: Lanes vital to our community

:: Quick exit raises plenty of questions

:: Readers wax poetic on joys of city's winter wonderland

:: Chill, it's a blizzard in January -- not the apocalypse

:: Little Mosque on the Prairie not such a stretch, even for CBC



I can't tell you his name.

I can't show you a picture of his sweet three-year-old face.

I can't even tell you the name of the woman accused of murdering him.

For now, at least, I'm censored by the terms of the provincial Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act.

Now there's a name Orwell would have loved.

According to the Department of Children's Services, I am legally forbidden to identify this dead boy or his accused killer. So are the police. The province says that's to protect his privacy. Too bad our government wasn't nearly so diligent about protecting his life.

I can tell you that the 32-year-old arrested in this case was his foster mother. The woman, who worked for Grant MacEwan College's faculty of health and community studies, has now been charged with second-degree murder, assault causing bodily harm, aggravated assault, failure to provide the necessities of life and child abandonment.

The child died late Saturday night, after he was removed from life support. While there has been no official cause of death released, his family told my colleague Karen Kleiss that the child suffered a fatal brain injury.

The boy's relatives also say that they saw burns and bruises on his body, and that the child appeared extremely thin and malnourished.

The province's new minister of Children's Services, Janis Tarchuk, is calling this death "an isolated incident."

If only that were true.

According to the department's own figures, 19 children suffered fatal or serious injury while in the protective care of Children's Services last year. Of those, 14 were aboriginal (which this child may have been, although the department will neither confirm nor deny even that small fact).

In 2004-05, there was one injury-related death or hospitalization for every thousand aboriginal children in foster care. In 2005-06, that number doubled.

See SIMONS / B5

And while aboriginal children make up 40 per cent of kids receiving some kind of protective care through Children's Services, they make up almost 75 per cent of those who suffered major or lethal injuries -- a shockingly disproportionate number.

Nor is a case like this unprecedented.

In 1999, Korvette Crier, a two-year-old from the Samson First Nation, was killed by her 26-year-old foster mother, Deborah Kambeitz, who knocked her to the floor in a fit of anger and fractured the child's skull.

A fatality inquiry found that Kambeitz's Red Deer foster home was unaccredited. The inquiry also found Kambeitz was totally overwhelmed, in part because Korvette had serious physical and intellectual disabilities caused by fetal alcohol syndrome, in part because Kambeitz was caring for five children under the age of six -- two of her own and three foster children. She pleaded guilty manslaughter and was sentenced to two years.

In November 2005, Caleb Merchant, an aboriginal baby of 13 months, died of brain injuries caused by shaken baby syndrome. His foster father, Raymond Loyer, 44, pleaded guilty to manslaughter and was sentenced to four and a half years.

At the time of his plea, the court heard that Loyer was overwhelmed, caring for Caleb and the boy's two young siblings. Although public fatality inquiries are supposed to be mandatory whenever a child dies in foster care, no inquiry into little Caleb's death has yet been held or even scheduled.

This weekend's death is no isolated incident. It's just the latest in a disturbing pattern.

As a society, we give the state the extraordinary power to take children away from parents whom government agencies deems inadequate. But when the state exercises such immense power, it must accept an equally immense burden of responsibility.

It is the state's moral duty to keep those children safe. And when the state fails, we must demand to know why.

Instead, we let the province hide from responsibility behind the pernicious censorship of the Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act. We aren't protecting this dead boy's "privacy." We're only protecting those who failed to save him.

Just how many children have to be "enhanced" into their graves before we get angry? Before we demand answers from our government? Before we demand change?

Don't expect the province's Child and Youth Advocate to speak up. John Mould, the current advocate, says he has no mandate or power to investigate or even comment upon the death of a child in care. He's no independent ombudsman. He can only wait to be asked by the minister to participate in a internal, confidential department review. Mould says he can make no public recommendations or findings -- he can only report privately to his minister.

Is the problem that we have too few social workers or that staff turnover is too high? If so, perhaps we need to hire more social workers and give them better pay and training.

Is the problem that we're relying on a shrinking pool of foster parents, who are effectively volunteers, to take on the taxing job of caring for children, many of whom have profound emotional, psychological and medical problems? If so, perhaps we need to nurture a cadre of "professional" foster parents and give them the financial compensation and practical support they need to do an extraordinarily difficult task.

Whatever the problems and solutions are, we'll never find them in secrecy and silence.

psimons@thejournal.canwest.com

Anonymous said...

Child Welfare System Must Grow Up
Tuesday , October 14, 2003

By Wendy McElroy

Fox News


The California child welfare system is such a disaster that even the state's Department of Social Services admits families are aggressively torn apart and children unnecessarily placed in foster care.

California has announced sweeping reform. But the reform required is for "authorities" to act like adults and take responsibility.

In a Sept. 25 press release, CDSS Director Rita Saenz bluntly assessed why the agency has failed. "[T]he original vision for supporting and healing families through the child welfare system has deteriorated into an adversarial and coercive approach."

The result: In L.A. County alone, more than 160,000 children "came into contact" with Child Welfare in 2002; 30,000 are in foster homes -- only one form of foster care.

David Sanders, head of the L.A. County Department of Children and Family Services, reports that as many as half of those foster children could have stayed at home with "appropriate services" rather than removal. Thus, an L.A. Daily News headline declared that children are being "rushed into foster care," where many remain.

Andrew Bridge of L.A.-based Broad Foundation explained why: money. "The county will only continue to receive funding for the period it keeps the child in its care." In various states, including California, there is a "perverse financial incentive" to place and retain children in foster care rather than leave them in the home.

Thus, the first way authorities can take responsibility is to remove the financial incentive to destroy families.

In a 2002 conference on Privatization and Government Reform, Laura Dykes explained how Kansas was reversing that dangerous trend -- through privatization. "By giving contractors a lump sum, rather than paying them on a per-day, per-child basis, the perverse incentives are removed." As a result "adoptions have increased 78 percent since privatization, and the dissolution rate [adoptions that fail] is only 2.4 percent, compared to 12 percent nationally." (p.30)

There is a second way for authorities to become adults. Those who receive a paycheck from the family court system have another "perverse financial incentive": to create and extend cases rather than resolve them. Instead, the family courts should prefer the comparatively private and inexpensive alternative of binding arbitration whenever applicable.

The crisis of child welfare is not confined to isolated states. If it were, the Senate would not be considering a provision in the Welfare Reform Act reauthorization bill to make states accountable for undistributed child support funds. In 2002, almost $660 million in child support payments never reached their intended recipients nor were they returned to payees. The funds "floated" as parents were "forced to pester the state for every nickel and dime." Geraldine Jensen, president of the Association for Children for Enforcement of Support declared, “If a bank behaved this way it would go out of business.”

This is my point. State officials and policies should be held to the same standard of accountability -- including criminality -- as that applied to private businesses and individuals. They should be liable for their gross misconduct, including the filing of false reports.

This may require the repeal of legislation such as the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) that offered federal matching funds to states with compliant child abuse programs. It offered huge financial incentives to uncover abuse while providing no checks to protect the wrongfully accused.

CAPTA established the policy of encouraging false accusations while eliminating accountability. It encouraged the leveling of anonymous charges through such mechanisms as hotlines. It extended legal immunity both to child welfare workers and to false accusers whose gross misconduct might deeply injure children.

The solution: Refuse to credit anonymous accusations; hold false accusers responsible for perjury; make "child welfare" workers liable for misconduct on the same level as private individuals.

What is the alternative?

In the wake of financial incentives without accountability, the number of children in nationwide foster care has doubled from 270,000 in the mid-1980s to 542,000 in 2001. (That figure does not include children who "graduated" upon turning 18.) Once removed to official "safety," these children are far more likely to suffer abuse -- including sexual molestation -- than the general population. According to the National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect, in 1998 six children per 100,000 population were killed in foster care compared to one per 100,000 in the general population.

For many children, foster care becomes permanent. In 1999, almost one in seven children in foster care nationwide had been there for three to four years; almost one in five had been there for five years or more.

The human cost of rushing children into foster care does not stop when they reach 18 years old. According to CDDS data, among youths who "emancipate" from foster care, 50 percent do not complete high school; 45 percent are unemployed; 33 percent are arrested; 30 percent are on welfare; 25 percent are homeless.

Foster care, as it exists, is often difficult to distinguish from child abuse. Children deserve better, especially children from troubled homes. They deserve to have adults in charge -- adults who take responsibility.



Wendy McElroy is the editor of ifeminists.com and a research fellow for The Independent Institute in Oakland, Calif. She is the author and editor of many books and articles, including the new book, Liberty for Women: Freedom and Feminism in the 21st Century (Ivan R. Dee/Independent Institute, 2002). She lives with her husband in Canada.

Anonymous said...

Alberta law on naming foster children restrictive: lawyer
Date : Monday, February 05, 2007
SOURCE: CBC NEWS WEBSITE

The Alberta law preventing media from reporting the names of a three-year-old boy and the foster mother charged with second-degree murder in his death are among the most restrictive in Canada, says a lawyer.

Lawyer Amy Zarzeczny studied similar laws in other provinces and says Alberta's two-year-old provincial legislation, called the Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act, may actually be the most restrictive.

"In some cases, one could argue it protects the system and prevents the public from receiving information in cases where that information would not result in any harm to the child," she said.

"And a deceased child, of course, doesn't have the same needs for protection that a living child does, and in that case it really does raise the question of who the section is protecting."

Foster mother in court Monday

The 32-year-old foster mother made a brief appearance in court Tuesday. She'll be back in court March 5.

She's charged with second-degree murder, assault causing bodily harm, child abandonment or failure to provide the necessities of life.

The woman is being represented by high-profile defence lawyer Robbie Davidson, who told the court he intends to make an application for bail.

Under the Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act, neither the child's name nor the woman's identity can be made public because her two biological children are in the care of children's services.

"No person shall publish any information serving to identify a child who has come to the minister's or a director's attention under this act or any information serving to identify the guardian of the child," reads the section.

John Dunn, a former foster child and founder of the Foster Care Council of Canada, questions just who Alberta's legislation is really protecting with the law.

"It appears to be more intended to protect the organizations that provide the services in many cases, where they can sort of hide behind this veil of secrecy whenever something goes wrong," said Dunn.

"There's a lot of good people in the system of course. But like anything, you have to have transparency in order to provide accountability."

Dunn said it's important for the public to know the details rather than an anonymous death.

"I would call it depersonalizing. It just turns it into a stat or a passing story," he said.

Keeping children safe and protected: province

CBC News has challenged the scope of the act in a different case involving a young person now before the courts. CBC News was charged last year and a judge will hand down a decision on that matter next month.

A government spokesperson said Children's Minister Janice Tarchuk couldn't comment on the act because of the legal proceedings involving the CBC.

According to the province's website, the act "supports the development and well-being of Alberta's children, youth and families while keeping them safe and protected.

"It is groundbreaking legislation that responds to the needs of today's families and demonstrates the Alberta government's commitment to children."

Anonymous said...

Edmonton Sun

June 5, 2006

Toddler dies in foster care

Girl found dead in crib

By ELIZA BARLOW, Staff Writer

Instead of celebrating her youngest daughter’s second birthday Tuesday, a Hobbema mother will be laying flowers on the toddler’s grave.

On May 28, the 26-year-old mother was at home waiting for a visit from her four children – ages nine, five, three and one – who were placed in foster care in December.

But the children never arrived. In their place came a group of RCMP officers and social workers who told her that her baby was dead.

Now, the mother says she wants answers on how her child died in the Innisfail foster home.

“I don’t know what happened,” said the mother Monday. “She was happy and healthy and she was just starting to talk. She was just innocent and sweet.”

Sgt. Lyle Marianchuk of the Innisfail RCMP confirmed police responded to an Innisfail home at about 8:30 a.m. on May 28 for a report that a two-year-old girl had been found dead in her crib.

“An autopsy was conducted which led to the conclusion that no foul play was involved in the child’s death,” he said.

However, Marianchuk said police will not close their investigation until they receive the results of toxicology tests on the child, which normally take six to eight weeks.

Marianchuk said it appears the little girl may have died from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)-related causes.

The mother freely provided her name and the name of her late child to the Sun. However, provincial law prohibits the Sun from publishing any information that would identify children in foster care.

The mother said her children were taken from her due to her alcohol problems. But she questions why the children had to be sent to Innisfail rather than be placed with their grandmother, her mother.

“They didn’t even take my kids to family. They just shipped them out there.”

Mel H. Buffalo, spokesman for the Indian Association of Alberta, said he’s troubled by the death of the little girl, buried by her family June 1.

“They take our kids away, send them to non-native families and then send them back in coffins,” he said.

Alberta Children’s Services spokesman Mary Lou Reeleder refused to comment on any aspect of the case, citing confidentiality laws. She said a “case review” is conducted whenever a child dies or is seriously injured in foster care.

Source:
www.edmontonsun.com/ News/ Alberta/ 2006/ 06/ 05/ 1615922.html

Anonymous said...

Thu, February 1, 2007

Dad breaks silence over son's death
UPDATED: 2007-02-01 01:20:42 MST


By SUN MEDIA


EDMONTON -- A heartbroken father has described holding his three-year-old son's "battered, starved, beaten, broken body" in a bedside vigil on the last day of the foster boy's life.

"I am unable to comprehend how any individual could inflict these types of injuries on my child," the dad said in a written statement.

The boy died of head injuries at the Stollery Children's Hospital late Saturday after he was rushed to hospital by ambulance from his foster home Friday.

His 32-year-old foster mom is charged with second-degree murder, assault causing bodily harm, aggravated assault, failure to provide the necessities of life and child abandonment in the death.

Neither the father, the son nor the foster mom can be identified under the provincial Child Youth and Family Enhancement Act.

Yesterday, the boy's father delivered a written statement to be forwarded to the press, said lawyer Erika Norheim.

"He didn't want to be silent, but he's hurting tremendously and he doesn't want to be talking about it right now," said Norheim.


In the statement, the father confirms his boy was Native and calls for aboriginal children who enter the foster-care system to be placed with Native foster parents.

"There needs to be a real commitment to trusting and supporting First Nations people in finding ways to provide our own children with safe homes," the statement said.

Mel Buffalo, president of the Indian Association of Alberta, echoed the grieving father's call.

"Our communities are willing to take care of these children, but the child welfare authorities tell us that immediate families are not eligible to be foster parents," he said.

"So they send them to total strangers and off the reserve and they come back to us in coffins."

Anonymous said...

http://www.kentucky.com/mld/kentucky/16495152.htm

Repulsive mess
Social-services scandal needs strong cleaner
Joel Pett's latest cartoon

Sadistic and criminal aren't words usually associated with social workers. But they come to mind while reading the results of a yearlong investigation into a Kentucky child-protection bureaucracy that was allowed to go rogue.

Social workers gave each other nicknames like "The Queen of Removal" and "Terminator" and laughed as they stripped children from their parents.

Workers and supervisors lied and falsified documents to cover up their misconduct and misled an accrediting agency. Those who protested or tried to report the abuses were targeted for retaliation, while some of those responsible were rewarded.

Not all, or even most, of the social workers in the eight-county Lincoln Trail area, based in Elizabethtown, are guilty of the abuses of government power detailed by Inspector General Robert J. Benvenuti III.

And such abuses are not confined to Lincoln Trail.

But that's not much consolation.

It underlines the "luck of the draw" quality of life-changing decisions being made about children and their families. "Kentucky's Other Lottery" is the apt title of the report by child advocates that launched the Inspector General's investigation.

The good news is that the scathing review was commissioned by the state Cabinet for Health and Family Services, which administers Lincoln Trail and the rest of Kentucky's community-based services offices.

If the cabinet is willing to air its nasty linen, maybe it will also deal aggressively with the problems the report revealed. A lot of people are watching to see how the cabinet responds.

Kentucky's social workers expose themselves daily to great danger for little pay while making difficult judgment calls on which the safety and well-being of children hinge.

Social worker Boni Frederick was killed last year while supervising an in-home visit between a foster child and his biological mother.

No one is criticizing the judgment calls required in the course of a day's work. But what developed within Lincoln Trail was pernicious and rotten -- an "attitude of supremacy" toward clients and the public, according to the IG's report.

The report identified 13 possible criminal violations that were turned over to a local prosecutor, along with various violations of cabinet policy.

The inspector general also issued a list of recommendations, some of which would require legislation and some of which the cabinet could accomplish by itself.

A blue-ribbon task force was already at work on reforms aimed at correcting abuses in the processes for terminating parental rights and adoption.

But no amount of legislation or reorganization can clean out all the rottenness that this investigation exposed.

The responsible parties should be held accountable.

Anonymous said...

Too Young and Too Innocent to Die

This page is in memory of children died of neglect or abuse while under the care of the social service agencies!

- http://suncanaa.com/in_memory_

-Sadistic and criminal aren't words usually associated with social workers. But they come to mind while reading the results of a yearlong investigation into a child-protection bureaucracy that was allowed to go rogue. Social workers gave each other nicknames like "The Queen of Removal" and "Terminator" and laughed as they stripped children from their parents! -

In the name of "child protection" children have been beaten. In the name of "children's rights" children have been raped. And in the name of "erring on the side of the child," children have been murdered.

Those Children Were Failed by the System ! Please, don't wait for new name on this page.

http://suncanaa.com/in_memory_


In The Name of Those Children
We are asking For: -Victims of Child Welfare Memorial Day-
http://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/986173347

Please spread the word and forward this email to your friends and family members.

Please Remember Us
http://protected-to-death-by-cps.memory-of.com/

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Anonymous said...

There he goes again!!
Media Advisory-Ombudsman Press Conference
CCNMatthews
Tue 20 Feb 2007
Dateline: TORONTO, ONTARIO
Time: 15:10 PM
TORONTO, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - Feb. 20, 2007) - Ombudsman Of Ontario Andre Marin Will Release His Report On The Investigation Into The Criminal Injuries Compensation Board At A Press Conference.

/T/


When: February 27, 2007

Time: 11:00 a.m.

Where: Media Studio
Legislative Building
Queen's Park
/T/

Prior to the press conference, there will be a technical briefing for journalists where embargoed copies of the final report will be distributed for review. Senior staff will be available to answer questions on background.

/T/


Time: 9:00 a.m. - 10:45 a.m.

Where: Committee Room 2
Legislative Building
Queen's Park
/T/

-30-

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT:


Ombudsman Ontario
Barbara Theobalds
Media Relations Advisor
(416) 586-3423
Email: btheobalds@ombudsman.on.ca
or


Ombudsman Ontario
Linda Williamson
Manager, Communications and Media Relations
(416) 586-3426
Email: lwilliamson@ombudsman.on.ca
INDUSTRY: GOIN, GOLO, GONA, GOSE, GOST

SUBJECT: CAL

Anonymous said...

I don't know what the person means here he goes again - thankfully someone cares about the victims.

Anonymous said...

February 24, 2007


Arrests spur examination of foster parent criteria By DEBORAH
CIRCELLI Staff Writer


DAYTONA BEACH -- Monitoring devices, drug testing, psychological
evaluations and a national network among states are a few steps being
discussed to keep foster children safe.


With two recent cases of local foster parents charged with molesting
or sexually abusing children, state and national child-welfare workers
are struggling for answers on how to keep them from being abused by
people entrusted to provide a safe haven.


"These kids have enough stuff in their lives and they just don't need
this," said Dr. Carl Schwenker, a Port Orange adoptive parent and
former foster parent.


Schwenker, a board member of Community Partnership for Children, a
local agency contracted to provide foster care services, said one idea
may be having a psychologist meet with prospective foster parents.


"It will probably discourage some people from becoming foster parents,
but I think it's necessary. We really need to get tough," he said.


Robert R. Clinton, 51, of Deltona, was charged Thursday with sexual
battery on a 3-year-old local foster girl and 40 counts of promoting
sexual performance of a child. Investigators found 40 images on
Clinton's computer and digital camera of him and the child in sexual
acts, reports show. He also was charged with 10 counts of possessing
child pornography that investigators believe he downloaded from the
Internet.


George Goolde of Orange City, who was president of the local foster
parent group, was arrested in November and faces charges of molesting
three children in his care. Both Goolde and Clinton remain in the
Volusia County Branch Jail.


The state Department of Children & Families in Tallahassee is looking
at the foster parent application process, though a psychological
evaluation is "not on the table at this time," a spokesman said.


Local officials are open to obtaining more information because they
say criminal background screenings don't always show the full picture.
But some caution against putting up more barriers when the majority of
foster parents are trying to help children. In Volusia and Flagler
counties, there are 225 licensed foster homes, but about 65 more are
needed, officials say, especially for teens, who at times are placed
outside the area.


Reggie Williams, local district administrator for the state DCF, met
with staff Friday to review procedures and further meetings are
planned. But he said, "We shouldn't just do things because they sound
good.


"There are no easy answers," Williams said. "People who want to be a
perpetrator will find ways of doing it. It's sick."


Neighbor To Family, which provides sibling foster care and oversaw
Clinton's home, installed monitoring devices in its foster homes last
year in Florida and four other states. The motion detectors cause an
alarm to go off in the house to wake up the foster parents and the
child if someone enters the child's bedroom at night. But in Clinton's
case, the sexual battery, police say, occurred in the living room.


Gordon Johnson, chief executive officer of Neighbor To Family, said
his agency talked about installing cameras but thought they would be
too hard to monitor. Some day-care centers nationally have installed
cameras so parents through an Internet site can see their children
throughout the day.


"This is a rare case. I'm not sure we want to overreact," Johnson
said.


State Sen. Evelyn Lynn, R-Ormond Beach, said she's "appalled" that
some foster parents are abusing children. She said the state needs to
study the issue and make changes, even if it means periodically
checking a foster parent's computer.


She and local DCF staff also say a national registry of foster parents
is needed so if the parent does something wrong in one state, other
states would know about it.


"We have to have a national approach to making sure our children are
safe," Lynn said.


DCF workers last year revoked a Deltona woman's foster care license
after being notified from someone outside the state that she was
charged in 1993 with endangering foster children in New Jersey. Local
DCF officials said the foster mother, who had been licensed locally
for five months, gave inadequate information on her application and
didn't tell local officials she had been a foster parent in New
Jersey.


An official with the National Foster Parent Association said such a
registry would be an invasion of a foster parent's privacy.


But a federal law passed last year is requiring a national registry of
all people involved in substantiated cases of child abuse. Until that
is developed, local DCF staff and foster care agencies already started
in August checking with abuse hot lines in other states where an
applicant has lived in the last five years to see if any abuse calls
were made on the person.


An official with the Child Welfare League of America suggests workers
visit children more and talk to children away from the foster home to
deter abuse.


Ohio officials are looking at changes after a foster couple was
arrested in August in the death of their 3-year-old developmentally
disabled foster boy left in a closet for two days wrapped in a blanket
and packing tape.


Some changes include drug testing, credit and bankruptcy checks, more
extensive reference checks and medical forms attesting to an
applicant's physical and mental condition and what psychotropic drugs
they are taking.


But Karen Jorgenson, executive director of the National Foster Parent
Association, said toughening the licensing processes is not going to
help. She suggests more home visits, smaller case loads per worker and
better training of workers to identify signs of sexual abuse.


"People who are abusive or into pornography, it appears, are very good
at what they do, and keeping it hidden from people," she said.


deborah.circe...@news-jrnl.com


-- News researcher Helen Morey contributed to this report.


Other Abuse Cases


While some national experts say abuse in foster homes is less than 1
percent, two local foster fathers were charged in the past three
months either with sexual battery or molesting children in their care.
Here are some other cases nationally in the past year:


· February 2007: A 31-year-old foster father in New Mexico was charged
with suffocating his 2-year-old foster son with a blanket.


· January 2007: A 30-year-old foster father in Brooksville was charged
with sexually abusing four boys.


· October 2006: A 40-year-old foster father in Missouri was charged
with 15 counts of possessing child pornography featuring two of his
foster boys.


· August 2006: A foster couple in Ohio were charged in the death of
their 3-year-old developmentally disabled foster boy. Reports say the
child was left alone in a closet for two days, wrapped in a blanket
and packing tape while the couple went to a family reunion.


· August 2006: A 49-year-old Minnesota foster father was charged with
molesting two girls. Another foster father, 45, was arrested in the
same county a week earlier and charged with molesting his foster
daughter.


· July 2006: A 51-year-old foster father in West Virginia was charged
with sexually abusing two boys and a girl.


· May 2006: A 31-year-old foster father in Wisconsin was charged in
the death of a 3-year-old boy. Reports say he punched the child and
his 2-year-old brother.


· March 2006: A 32-year-old foster mother in New Mexico was charged
with two felony counts of child abuse involving an 18-month-old boy
who suffered a brain injury.

Anonymous said...

Foster Father Charged With Sexual Battery On Child

POSTED: 7:31 am EST January 4, 2006
UPDATED: 8:57 am EST January 4, 2006

MERRITT ISLAND, Fla. -- Brevard County investigators want to know if there are any more victims of a foster father charged with molesting a child.

Robert Howard is in jail charged with sexual battery.

Brevard County detectives are contacting more than 30 foster children who have lived with Howard and his wife. A tip led investigators to Howard's computer, where they found thousands of pictures of child porn.

Investigators found an alleged victim who said the abuse lasted for years.

The charges shocked neighbors.

"Absolutely shocked that something like this could go on right next door to you and you have no idea, no idea, none, I was so surprised," said neighbor Karen Proctor.

The Howards also adopted five children.
Copyright 2006 by wftv.com.

Anonymous said...

I am going to design my own activity since there aren't any reliable jobs to be found.

Could anyone provide any ideas or web sites as to how to get government grant money to set up my own business? I have already been looking on the internet but each and every site asks for money and I have been previously told by the unemployment office to avoid the sites that request cash for grant information as they are scammers. I'd be truly thankful for any advice.