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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

I don't want to let the cat out of the bag as I'm sure this site is being watched by the CAS, but here is an excerpt from my proposal. Feedback would be appreciated. Thank you to all who continue to post information, I read the blog all the time and find it very beneficial!

Take care and I will let you know my progress on this project.
Amanda


Goals and Mission
Why A Crisis Nursery?

There is a very large gap between loving, encouraging parents and extremely abusive, unfit parents. At present, there are very few social services for families who need help through a rough time in their lives, but who are capable, enthusiastic parents. Most of us have an extended network of loving family members and friends who are able to help us during our hard times; to take our children for short a duration, help out financially, to even just offer their company and listen to us. A lot of people do not have this web of close people to rely on; and let’s face it, everyone needs a little help on occasion. Asking for help should be considered a sign of strength, not of failure or weakness.

Jeffrey’s Place will be a safe place for parents to bring their children while they get the help they need to overcome a life crisis. This may be a loss of employment, loss of housing, financial difficulty, high levels of stress or sever depression, domestic violence, or the end of a relationship. It is, in effect, a children’s shelter.

Children will be able to stay at the house for up to two weeks while staff help their parents find a job, find affordable housing, get professional counselling for substance abuse, depression, stress, domestic violence, etc., receive parenting education and access to any other social service available that they need. The emphasis of all family social programs should be on helping parents to properly take care of their children so that families can stay together. Staff will visit the family’s at their homes after a child has stayed at the nursery to offer support and guidance for a year following release. In addition, parents or children can call the center 24 hours a day 365 days a year if they have questions or concerns.

The goal of Jeffrey’s Place is to reduce child abuse and neglect by educating and assisting parents as well as reducing the intervention by the Children’s Aid Society. It is understood that some cases may require more services than Jeffrey’s Place can offer, and it is in these circumstances that the CAS’s help will be requested.

Child Services:
Children will receive care in a safe and healthy environment while their parents get assistance with a life crisis.
Children will be assessed immediately after being brought to the center. The initial intake procedures and assessment will include the following and be documented:
the child’s name and age
the child’s physical appearance
the child’s emotional state
any belongings the child has will be labeled with their name and given back to them
the child will be asked favorite foods, drinks, activities, colours, etc. to encourage the child to become comfortable in the center and so the staff member can get to know the child
the centers services and rules, as well as the reason the child is there will be explained to the child in a manner suitable to the child’s age and emotional state
Children will be given three meals and two snacks a day. The meals will adhere to the child’s diet, (vegetarian, lactose intolerant, allergies, etc.) and will follow the Canada Food Guide. Meal plans will be prepared in advance and posted so that parents and children can see what will be served.
Children will have the opportunity engage in a variety of activities that suit their ability and age. Activities will be educationally based with time both outside and inside. There will also be toys, puzzles, books and craft items available for children to play with.
A report will be written at the end of each day about each child documenting:
the child’s behaviour when interacting with others (staff and the other children)
sleeping habits
eating habits
any aggressive, depressed or sexual behaviour
willingness and ability to learn new things
ability to cope with the environment around them

This report will be made available to the counsellor so they may effectively help the children in care. The child’s overall behaviour will determine the amount of time with them, but every child will see the counsellor upon arrival at the center.
Children will have journals available to them and will be encouraged to write or draw in them. They will keep these when they leave.

Older children will have light household responsibilities. They will basically include helping the staff to tidy up. A child will never be forced to do something, but helping around the house will be encouraged.

Children will be disciplined under the guidelines the Ministry provides for foster parents.
Should the Children’s Aid Society’s assistance be required, the child may remain at the center while a suitable foster family is being located unless otherwise specified by the CAS.

Parental Services
Parents will receive assistance with a life crisis in a nonjudgmental, compassionate environment.
As their children are being admitted into the center, parents will meet with a staff member to assess their situation. Parents will be asked a series of questions to determine their emotional state, approximately how long the child will be at the center, how we can effectively aid them, abuse history in the family, and what outcome they expect to gain from using the center.
From there, parents will be required to set up a plan of action. Using this information, we will put them in touch with the services they require. Housing, the job bank, a financial advisor to help with budgeting, counselling services, substance abuse organizations, women or men’s support groups, financial assistance programs, etc. They will be responsible for making and keeping appointments with these services, but will let us know what progress has been made. Some parents will be asked to attend parenting courses.
The parents, unless violent or under the influence, may contact their children. They can call their children anytime or visit their children at the center with prior notice.
At the end of two weeks, the parents will meet with staff again to discuss progress made and future goals.
Staff will visit the children and parents in their home throughout the following year at intervals:
Two days after the child has gone home
One week after the child has gone home
One month after the child has gone home
Once every three months after

Staff will be required to physically see and speak with the child and must spend time with the child alone and with the parents alone. Progress, concerns, questions and the general well-being of the family will be discussed at each visit. Staff will be documenting discussions, physical and emotional state of child, state of the household, (i.e. is there sufficient food in the house, are there any smells to indicate neglect of hygiene, are there signs of violence, etc.) and emotional state of the parents. If staff have concerns for the child’s safety, they may ask the parents permission to take the child to the center or they may call the CAS.

Diapers, formula and children’s clothing will be available at all times for parents to come and pick up.

Free parenting courses will be offered one evening a week to parents. Transportation and childcare will be arranged so it is easy for parents to come.

Anticipated Impact:
Statistics show that people who abuse were abused as children. They usually remember how it felt to be lonely, in pain, made to feel worthless, and miserable. In most cases, they probably don’t want to treat their children badly but don’t know how else to raise a child. This is how they were taught to deal with a child that cries or that wets their bed or who is messy when they eat.
People are afraid to ask for help because of the repercussions that may follow. The Children’s Aid Society has a reputation for taking children for a variety of reasons, some very questionable and unwarranted. The other problem with the CAS, (besides the reasons that the Auditor General’s report state) is that they don’t help the parents. The solution isn’t always as easy as removing children from their parents. Research shows that in many, many cases, the child would rather be with it’s parents, no matter how bad things got at home.

So why not help the child by helping the parents?

In many cases, although the parent is the adult, they act like children when they find themselves in frightening, stressful or strange circumstances because they weren’t given the tools to cope with anything unfamiliar. How do young children ask for help? They act out aggressively, they throw a tantrum, they cry and they get frustrated if they aren’t successful in what they are trying to do. However, these parents are adults and do need to be responsible and accountable for their actions but society can not fault someone for not knowing how to ask for help, or did ask and were punished for it.

By offering people a safe, nonjudgmental place to receive assistance and leave their children with confidence, it is anticipated that parents will be open to getting help and will use this service. Except in certain cases where the CAS will have to intervene, there are no disadvantages to this service. Parents can start getting their lives together while not having to worry about the welfare or whereabouts of their children, the children can get the counselling and education they may need and the end result is that the family can stay together.

The cycle of abuse will just continue spiraling out of control. This service is intended to help people cope with the stresses in their lives, learn how to raise their children and stop the pattern of abuse.

24 comments:

Anonymous said...

Amanda - it is on the right track, however I think the period should be much longer then two weeks. Parents in crisis are going to require very often at least a few months to get housing, jobs etc.. two weeks would make it a slight and small step before children are thrust into the abyss of CAS. CAS remember DOES NOT WANT PARENTS TO SUCCEED, they want children for their clients who want to adopt. The focus is not on the children, it is on their clients.

Rather then children being shuttled to private foster care where no one knows at all what is going on in these homes, it is safer for children to be in an open, transparent, accountable, regulated, licensed and quality crisis nursery.

A few months of hands on care, therapy in some cases, structure and safety is a thousand times better then many (not all) foster homes.

Parents have enormous challenges, and two weeks gives them barely a chance to even begin to sort anything out. Truly I would make it months.

The other thing is that CAS loves to play the dirty and deceitful bonding argument, whereby children are in foster care, but the persective adopters claim they have bonded in a mere few months with the child. This is then used in court against the parents, making strangers and their alleged bonding of more importance then the child and his ties to his actual family. A crisis nursery is not their for infertile couples, gay couples, and anyone that wants a child, therefore it makes more sense to have a longer time period.

Once in CAS the child is lost at sea, sometimes forever.

It will take time to help these families, real time and real energy. I think it looks great so far, with the exception of the time.... months compared to a life-time of a child never seeing their family again is day and night.

Anonymous said...

The staff at such a nursery should in no way, shape or form be affiliated with the adoption/foster care industry, nor should they be connected with baby brokers or anyone else that wants children as a commodity. I would be very strict in hiring social workers who actually support family preservation with real help in this.

As well if one has used the nursery how about having a mentorship program with parents helping each other. People are much more likely to trust a person who has walked in their shoes and who can relate with practical empathy, and realistic opinions about all of this.

Anonymous said...

I have grave reservations about the abuse history being asked or used? This is a stereotype that is NOT TRUE in many cases. Where it is true in some it is to me highly distorted.

I would caution getting into this overly, as it sounds like CAS and what they do. Not all who were abused become abusers. CAS has not been bright enough to understand who breaks the pattern. You don't want to re-victimize people with this, it is a very delicate area.

Anonymous said...

Adults should not be abused again as they were abused as children. Adults who know and understand that what happened to them was wrong, and that it was not their fault, and that have empathy for themselves as children, thus having empathy and understanding and love for children today - are those who do not repeat it.

Many parents would not abuse their children, as they know how horrific it is. Social workers and the industry have had a field day with this area - but once again the research is geared to promote foster care and adoption, and it is written by those DIRECTLY in the industry or those who are connected with them.

Do tread with caution with this...please

Anonymous said...

Children who are in the crisis nursery are not going to be confident that they are in there, parents might be, but the kids no -they will be confused, afraid, perhaps angry, maybe shy. They are not automatically going to just be glad that they are there. For that reason documenting how they are is good BUT over analysis, and measuring how they are overall in a two week time period in a crisis nursery is not going to give you an accurate picture of these children.

I would tread with caution, in that observing is one thing, but making assumptions another - and remember the vultures at CAS will use anything they can to destroy families for their clients. It is a fine line.

Anonymous said...

Adoption to the CAS is a cure to them for all social ill's but they are too stupid to know that the WORST CHILD ABUSERS on earth, are those who were abused as children, and who have permanent care of other people's children in adoption, and foster care.

Because the system is not about care, it is about ownership and it is for clients who want to adopt, not children. Abusers like ownership and control, it is a sign of abuse, yet the system itself totally caters to them.

Children do not want to live with strangers and that is precisely what those who foster and adopt are - strangers. And most gain power by slamming and hating the childs parents to start with, which only leads to them doing the same with the child that they are pretending to be "just like them". It is insain.

All should be done to promote family preservation. Amanda maybe research family preservation centers in the United States for some good ideas for the nursery as it is along the same lines.

From their stats, abuse has decreased from keeping children out of system "care".

CAS is not likely to want their bubble of illusions to stop. I really hope that your nursery will help, as it is a lot better then CAS. And you having Ombudsman oversight attests to your care for this issue.

Anonymous said...

Proposed adoption law raises many questions
Family Practice
Written by By Carole Curtis
Sunday, 24 July 2005
The provincial government established a Child Welfare Secretariat in April 2004, and hired Bruce Rivers (then executive director of the Toronto Children's Aid Society, the largest CAS in Canada) to head up a law reform initiative. The initiative had many goals, but was intended, in part, to evaluate the changes made to the Child and Family Services Act in 2000, following the report of the panel of experts chaired by Justice Mary Jane Hatton. The Child Welfare Secretariat prepared a report with 40 recommendations, which was submitted to the government, but has not been made public.

Bill 210, Child and Family Services Statute Law Amendment Act, 2005, was introduced on June 6. The bill amends the act to (among other things) permit courts to make openness orders for Crown wards who are the subject of a plan for adoption.

The number of children in the care of children's aid societies in Ontario has gone from 10,000 to about 19,000 in the last five years (these statistics may be slightly out of date, but are not exaggerated).

In Ontario, there are roughly 9,000 children (called Crown wards) in the permanent care of a children's aid society. Seventy five per cent of them can't be adopted because their family has a court order for access. The government says that majority of those access orders are not used by the parents (i.e., the parents do not see the children). One of the problems in this area is the lack of reliable data about the children in the government's care.

Crown wards with access live in foster and group homes. On average, children in foster or group care are moved every two years. That means a child moves her belongings, leaves her friends, changes schools, lives in a new house, and lives with a new family, facing different rules and new expectations. No one doubts this kind of instability permeates and affects all aspects of the child's life and well-being.

Children's aid societies' budgets went from $500 million to $1.1 billion in less than five years in Ontario. How-ever, currently, children's aid societies are carrying about a $70-million deficit.

Although I have acted and continue to act for all sides of the child protection equation (parents, children, and children's aid societies), my observations on this bill are from the perspective of parents' counsel. I refer to the parents as "the parents" and not as the "biological parents" or the "birth parents" as has become fashionable in this area of practice.

These amendments are a little complicated, and not intuitive. If you work in this area, you will need to read the bill closely.

In the bill, openness is not access. It may mean contact, communication, a card or letter, information, knowledge and for the child, may result in a greater sense of identity.

Before an adoption, only a children's aid society may apply to a court for an openness order (s. 145.1). The test applied is the best interests of the child. The order can only be made on consent of everyone, including the possible adoptive parents. The court can only change or terminate the order before an adoption, based on a material change in circumstances, applying the best interests test, and the children's aid society must agree.

After an adoption, the court can also change an openness order (s. 153). However, the child cannot apply for this change, and the parents cannot apply without leave. Openness can also be the subject of an agreement.

This law reform initiative raises mostly questions. Initially, there is a concern that the focus of law reform not be at the end of the process (at the Crown wardship/adoption stage) when it is too late to help this family stay together. Why isn't the energy and money being put into the front end of the process, in keeping families that need help together?

What is the philosophy behind this initiative? What is intended by this initiative? And for whose benefit? Is there any empirical data about this? Is this meant to benefit the parents? Is it meant to free up more kids for adoption? Who is the client here? (i.e., whom does the government identify as the client?).

Don't tell me the child is the client: that has never been the case. Parents and their lawyers will tell you that the government has always seen the adoptive parents as the real client.

What results are intended or expected? Is this meant to reduce the number of kids in care at the early stages? Is this meant to reduce the number of kids in long-term foster care (Crown ward with access, in foster care)? Will there be applications to court to terminate those several thousand access orders that are now not being exercised, and replace them with openness orders?

What is the structure really intended to be? What sort of contact is envisaged? Remember that the word used is "openness," not access or contact. What rights accrue to these children during minority and at age 18 — are there any different rights than now? Is the contact envisaged by the parents different from the contact envisaged by the adoptive parents?

Why does the government cling to the use of the term "adoption?" What about permanent placement? Adoption itself is not a panacea, particularly in an evolving multi-cultural society. Like fostering, adoption is a concept quite foreign to some cultures.

What will the court order look like? What will the "usual" terms be? Will any retroactive orders be permitted? Who are the parties to these orders?

What about enforceability? Who will these orders bind? Who are the parties to these orders? What, if any, is the continuing role for children's aid societies after adoption? Who will enforce these orders?

And finally, from the parent's perspective, what do parents think this means? Do they think it means access? Will parents think this a better solution? What is really being offered to parents here? Will this make settlement of Crown wardship cases easier?

There are many bad names one can call a woman in our society, but there is nothing as horrible to a woman as calling her a bad mother. This is really what these cases are about. Losing your child forever is the worst thing that could possibly happen to a parent. A Crown wardship case is the capital punishment of family law.

While there may be research which supports the validity of reform in this area, it has not been made available. It is a great skill that lawyers are taught, to take something nearly everyone thinks is a good idea and pick it apart until almost nobody thinks it is. There is much in this bill to consider.

Carole Curtis is a family law lawyer in a three-lawyer firm in Toronto. She can be reached at carolecurtis@carolecurtis.com

Anonymous said...

In the last article WHERE did the government get their statistics from? The CAS of course! Do over 9,000 families including men and their families not want to see their own children?

I don't think so!

Anonymous said...

People who were abused as children, are VERY OFTEN attracted to CAS and fostering and adoption. Not because they want to help a child, but because they have the idea that had they have been raised with strangers the abuse would not have happened to them. They are unrealistic, and CAS is stupid enough to believe that foster stranger danger care, and adoption stranger danger care is safer simply as they are not related. And the survey says WRONG CAS - you increase the risk a thousand times over. You have total strangers taking care of someone else's child, who have no idea of how to be a parent at all?

Johnny is not going to be "just like them", like the CAS has dictated to people for years. And the strangers do not like that. Johnny is feeling a great deal of trauma, and the stranger danger does not understand him, as HE IS NOT RELATED TO THEM. Talk about stress, and risk.

Anonymous said...

CAS is also WRONG about many
who were in foster care and those who were adopted by abusers re-abusing. The culprits were not related to the victims. When one has been abused and has their OWN children, it is different totally.

CAS does not understand that. They think the environment and nurture is the end all of time.

Anonymous said...

Amanda you said - "Statistics show that people who abuse were abused as children"

True in some cases BUT the statistics do not include foster care, and adoption and are therefore biased, and inaccurate. It is only EVER natural families that abuse to CAS, not anyone else.

Not anyone else including their own workers.

Toronto CCAS has had two cases of sexual abuse by their staff over the past few months alone, but as the system clings to the grips of secrecy God only knows how many of their workers are also doing this.

Anonymous said...

There are many bad names one can call a woman in our society, but there is nothing as horrible to a woman as calling her a bad mother. This is really what these cases are about. Losing your child forever is the worst thing that could possibly happen to a parent.

From Carole Curtis the quote above, but again CAS is WRONG in that they also do not know that for a child it is also the worst thing that could possibly happen to lose your entire family, and to be raised with strangers. They don't appear to get that.

Anonymous said...

Amanda gets it, in that children do want to be raised with their families, and that parents need help. This is great!

Anonymous said...

Amanda what a great idea.Please let us know if you need donations (toys,books etc)Jeffrey must be so happy he has a new home which will be filled with childrens laughter.Wow its very emotional.Great job Amanda!!

Anonymous said...

And for that matter not all who have been raised in their own families become abusers either, who were abused.

Anonymous said...

Even if the strangers are not abusive, and even if the strangers are actually loving, it cannot replace one's family, genetics or the inheritable ties in being born.

Anonymous said...

And really parents are not going to be overly and totally confident that the children are in a nursery either - not that it is bad, but as they are in a crisis. They are also going to be afraid, have reservations and huge feelings about this. But if help is provided, those who do love and want to keep their children may be more open.

I would bet more parents do love them then not. As do their extended families as well.

Anonymous said...

I am still trying to get to talk to Amanda. A child has been apprenhended by CCAS for no credible reason, put in a foster home. He got neglect, and tramautized. evidence was provided to CCAS, and now the CCAS have make the life of the family a living hell. we need to stop them. They are playing dangerous games, and children are under siege for profit. We need to pull together and stop these people before more children get hurt, and died. I can be reached at lamimi_francaise@hotmail.com

Anonymous said...

To the last poster - go to your MPP, the media, and the various groups out there fighting them. Sarnia Smoking Gun, and many others.

It is time to stop the illegal kidnapping of children in Ontario!!!

Anonymous said...

It was said that Charles Smith was himself adopted. Was he in a "forever safe, forever family"?

Anonymous said...

lovely sounding place...don't know how you ever got the funding for it....brings to mind the essence of Ontario's radical child protection laws that we're all defined by one crisis.

With those CAS eyes watching everywhere...and it being mandated by all help agencies & other resources to report...how do you propose to maintain anonymity with the people you're helping so that CAS cannot "swoop in" & apprehend their children???? They are an "invasive" force & I feel that they'll find a way to regulate you.

Anonymous said...

and those numbers of 9,000 crown wards in care...even if it was 3 years ago in 2005....they are drastically off....try 10's of thousands of crown wards. They say there are over 100,000 children in care in Ontario. I beg to differ...I think the actual statistics would be much higher if there was actually some kind of reporting venue. Interestingly enough there's never any "real" documentation of current numbers.

Anonymous said...

If you don't already know about the work he does...I encourage you to check out the afterfostercare council of Canada, headed up by John Dunn (former CW). I network with him. We've dedicated alot of time & involvement to Child Welfare reform, submitting to Ministerial reviews, open submissions. Trying to keep on top of proposed ammendments & changes to bills...and always being a resource of information & knowledge for those involved with, or under threat of an investigation, a children's aid society. I'm still involved in my matter. I've spoken with CBC investigative journalists & recorded & archived the documentary on Jeffrey's death. I've published e-newsletters...we all have personal lives...and are sometimes consumed by our own CAS/legal affairs. But we have newly created on-line discussion forums etc. We all participate in group postings on afterfostercare@yahoogroups.com I invite you to participate in effecting change.

Jace said...

You write very well.