Wednesday, June 22, 2005

FIPPA Request - CFSA Review

I sent a letter today to the FIPPA department of Child and Youth Services requesting copies of all 90 submissions which have been made during the public consultation / feedback session of 2005

This post will be edited when the results come back. I have a feeling they will try to make it more difficult than it is. The documents are probably filed under Five Year Review all together so it would not be too difficult to find. We will see how it goes.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Bill 210 - Discussion

afterfostercare@hotmail.com Printed: June 12, 2005 12:31:10 PM




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

From : John Dunn
Reply-To : afterfostercare@yahoogroups.com
Sent : June 12, 2005 12:04:37 PM
To : list@childwelfare.ca
Subject : AfterFosterCareGroup Re: BILL 210 - Removing Accountability

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


Rory Said:

>I, too, am disappointed. But, in something else... your misrepresentation
>of
>the facts on Bill 210, which everyone can read here:
>http://www.ontla.on.ca/documents/Bills/38_Parliament/Session1/b210_e.htm

> > For children in care who need
> > to report abuse in care or other service issues, they will only have the
> > perpetrators to complain to.
>
>I find this comment engineered to trigger an emotional response by
>unrooting
>it from the facts.
>

I did not mean to cause any problems, I am sorry, I actually was just using
the word I thought most appropriate for the circumstance. According to
Dictionary.com, as I suspected, Perpetrator is defined as follows:
------------------
To be responsible for; commit: perpetrate a crime; perpetrate a practical
joke.

perpetrator

n : someone who perpetrates wrongdoing
------------------

I admit that the word contains "crime" and not all complaints by clients are
based on a social worker committing a crime. So for that, I appologize and I
am happy to clarify this.

However I did not give an example of what I was thinking when I wrote that
messsage which might help a little. Lets say for example, the issue the
client had was with the actual client's social worker and how that worker
was treating them, or neglecting their duties or treating their family
members.

A typical CAS complaint procedure, currently states that the client/advocate
must start the complaint with the social worker who is being complained
about. If no resolution has been reached, Then the client/advocate must ask
that very same social worker (who is being complained about) to escalate the
complaint to that social worker's supervisor. The client/advocate, if not
satisfied with the results, must then ask that supervisor to escalate the
complaint to the next level, which is the Executive Director.

If the Executive Director does not wish to deal with the complaint (I have
witnessed letters dismissing the complaint and directing them to the Board)
then the client must request from the Executive Director to escalate the
complaint to the Board of Directors.

The whole Board of Directors is rarely present, instead, a couple of
memebers are usually assigned to hear the complaint. If they do not overturn
any previous decisions or resolutions, the client must then ask them to
escalate the complaint to the Ministry for a Director's review.

The ministry then assigns someone to be a temporary director in order to
investigate and resolve the complaint.

This is the final stage. But it is only at this level that a client can use
the Ontario Ombudsman to intervene. The Children's Aid Societies are not
under the Ontario Ombudsman's jurisdiction. ( I have confirmed this several
times and even the Ontario Legislature has debated doing so with no success
due to a lack of public awareness and feedback - For Dates See
http://web.ncf.ca/fe281/pdf/casombudsmanpetitionlegal24sigs.pdf )

So, now on to section 68 of the proposed Bill 210. You displayed Bill 210's
proposed change to the complaint section (68) of the CFSA which I will
elaborate upon, keeping in mind the background I have given above. Before I
give the current and the new version, I would like you to read the following
exerpt from a position paper created by the Ontario Association of
Children's Aid Societies, which was submitted to the Ministry before Bill
210 was submitted to the Legislature.

The report, which can be downloaded off the Association's Home page( will
give later)
stated the following in their recomendations to the Minister.

-------------OACAS POSITION PAPER----------------
TITLE:
Proposed Child and Family Services Act
Amendments:

A Position Paper of the Ontario Association of
Children’s Aid Societies

OACAS CFSA/FLR Committee
February 2005

...

CAS complaint review procedure 38
The right of persons to use a CAS complaint review procedure is governed by
section 68. There
are two mandatory steps, one being access to a Society’s board of directors
and the second being
access to a Ministry Director. The Board of Directors has not proven to be
an effective complaints resolution step, given the reluctance of board
members to overturn decisions made by social work staff and the Society’s
Executive Director. The Ministry Director has also proven to be an
ineffective complaints resolution step, given the lack of statutory
authority to overturn or rescind decisions made by a Society. At present,
many non-clients are accessing the complaints review procedure and there are
no reasonable limits to accessing this procedure.

The OACAS recommends that section 68 be amended as follows:

that the reference to complaints review procedure be changed to “client
complaint resolution
procedure.”

that the reference to a “society’s board of directors” and Ministry Director
in subsections 68(2)
and 68(3) respectively be deleted.

that specific criteria be identified for initiating a complaint.

that a new subsection be added stipulating that the complaints resolution
procedure cannot be
accessed by: a non-client; a person making a frivolous or vexatious
complaint or acting in bad
faith; or a person engaged in litigation with the Society in respect of the
same subject matter.

OACAS, November 2004. Achieving a Better Balance – p. 10. This Paper
provides a response from OACAS member agencies to the Ministry of Children
and Youth Services Accountability Discussion Paper: Finding the Right
Balance, and Bernstein, M. Analysis of the Current Written Complaints Review
Procedure of the Catholic Children’s Aid Society of Metropolitan Toronto and
Recommendations for Change, Canadian Family Law Quarterly, Vol. 16, Number
1, July 1998, pp.121-144.
February 2005
-------------END OF OACAS POSITION PAPER----------------



After reading that quote from the Ontario Association of Children's Aid
Societies position paper, look at the differences between the current
section 68, and the proposed section 68 of Bill 210 and you will notice that
the Minister listened to the OACAS and made the changes asked for.

Changes which eliminate advocates from initiating a complaint, and which
eliminate the Independant Board of Directors and the Ministry Review stage
of complaints. Which effectively eliminates Ministry involvement, which
again, eliminates Ombudsman intervention where necessary.


----------CURRENT VERSION-----------------
68. (1) A society shall establish a written review procedure, which shall be
approved by a Director, for hearing and dealing with complaints by any
person regarding services sought or received from the society, and shall
make the review procedure available to any person on request.
Idem
(2) A review procedure established under subsection (1), shall include
an opportunity for the person making the complaint to be heard by the
society’s board of directors.

Further review by Director
(3) A person who makes a complaint and is not satisfied with the
response of the society’s board of directors may have the matter reviewed by
a Director. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.11, s. 68.
----------END CURRENT VERSION-----------------



Bill 210's proposed changes are as follows:

----------PROPOSED CHANGE TO CURRENT VERSION-----------------
68. (1) Every society shall establish a review procedure that satisfies
the prescribed requirements for hearing and dealing with a complaint by a
person concerning services sought or received by the person from the
society, and shall make information concerning the review procedure
available to any person on request.

Complaint
(2) A person may make a complaint about a service sought or received by the
person from a society and shall do so in accordance with the review
procedure established by the society.

No review if matter within purview of court
(3) A society shall not deal with a complaint under this section if the
subject of the complaint is an issue that has been decided by the court or
is before the court.
----------PROPOSED CHANGE TO CURRENT VERSION-----------------

I will now do a phrase by phrase analysis of the changes:

--------------FIRST PHRASE ANALYSIS------------
Current Version: First Phrase

68. (1) A society shall establish a written review procedure, which shall be
approved by a Director, for hearing and dealing with complaints by any
person regarding services sought or received from the society, and shall
make the review procedure available to any person on request.

Proposed Bill 210 Version: First Phrase
68. (1) Every society shall establish a review procedure that satisfies
the prescribed requirements for hearing and dealing with a complaint by a
person concerning services sought or received by the person from the
society, and shall make information concerning the review procedure
available to any person on request.


Originally, each agency was required to create a written review procedure
and it had to be approved by a Ministry Director. This was an ACTIVE process
which ensured Ministerial accountability which will now be eliminated. The
proposed change puts the Ministry in a less official capacity for liability
by becomming a passive party in this matter. Now, the Ministry can create a
set of "prescribed requirements" which agencies must follow: If these
agencies do not follow these "prescribed requirements" the Ministry is no
longer responsible, the client should take it up with the agency because the
Ministry has done it's part to create the "Prescribed requirements"
effectively meeting it's new mandate. Again, no Ombudsman jurisdiction over
CAS, and responsibility/liability removed from the Ministry.

The second part deals with WHO can initiate a complaint with or against a
CAS. Currently the Act says that complaints by ANY person regarding services
sought or received from the society could be initiated using this section of
the Act and the Societies written review procedures. That means advocates
and support persons etc. The proposed change, stipulates that a "complaint
by a person concerning services sought or received by the person from the
society". What this means, is that the complaint must be initiated BY THE
PERSON about the services received by THAT PERSON.

This removes the ability of a parent, advocate, friend, lawyer, or anyone
else to initiate a complaint on that client's behalf. What if the client is
a former abuse victim who fears authority? What if the client has a mental
disability and does not know how to launch an official complaint? Look at
the recent Anne Larcade incident(Ombudsman Report and Law Suit of
Government)

The mother would not have been able to initiate any complaints! It would
have been up to her Son, a severely autistic boy to do so in the new
proposed Bill 210 changes. This in my opinion is not an accidental oversight
and would have been guided by Ministry Legal Professionals, as well as the
Legislatures legal staff who ensure that legislation is proposed in proper
fasion etc.

Now, moving on to the third part of the first paragraph: making procedure
available on request.

The current version states "and shall make the review procedure available to
any person on request." referring directly to the actual written review
procedure itself, not flyers and websites which outline or provide
information about the review procedure.

The proposed changes are carefully worded to ensure that the actual written
review procedure does not have to be "exposed" to clients or the public by
saying the following:

"and shall make information concerning the review procedure available to any
person on request."
Notice how carefully that little change can mean such a big difference in
the actual physical behavior of a CAS agency and it's staff. They no longer
have to make the written review procedure available upon request to any
person, rather they now can make a "public version of a flyer" which
diseminates "information concerning the review procedure" available. This is
no accident. During a complaint I launched against Pierre Viger, the
Director of Professional Services at the Ottawa CAS last year for not giving
me a copy of the complaint procedure upon request, he repeatedly stated (in
written letters) that the complaint review procedure was an internal
document and not to be given to the public. Instead, he kept referring to
the web site which gave information about the review procedure. Not the
actual review procedure the CAS has. What steps are in there that they don't
want going public? We can only imagine.

--------------END OF FIRST PHRASE ANALYSIS------------

--------------SECOND PHRASE ANALYSIS------------
current version:

Idem
(2) A review procedure established under subsection (1), shall include
an opportunity for the person making the complaint to be heard by the
society’s board of directors.

Bill 210 Proposed version:
Complaint
(2) A person may make a complaint about a service sought or received by the
person from a society and shall do so in accordance with the review
procedure established by the society.

Notice that currently a client can go to a Society's Board of Directors.
(even though usually ineffective as stated by the OACAS itself) which is at
least somewhat independant. The new proposed change takes that step away,
legally from the Act, as recomended by the OACAS in their position paper. It
leaves it up to the CAS to decide if they shoudl do so or not. Again, no
accountability. Even if the Society is told by the "prescribed requirements"
submitted to them by the Ministry to potentially use a board of directors as
a means of ensuring an impartial review to a complaint, they are still not
legally mandated in the CFS Act to do so. In effect, there is no Law
requireing them to do so. So again the Ministry is no longer legally
responsible for this and a CAS is also no longer legally bound to provide it
as a step in the complaint procedure.

How is a vulnerable client going to fight this? Can they get a lawyer? Can
they afford one? Are they emotionally able to do so? Do they have the know
how to navigate the legal system in order to fight something that no longer
has a legal backing? This is completely intentional.
--------------END OF SECOND PHRASE ANALYSIS------------

--------------THIRD PHRASE ANALYSIS------------
current version of third phrase:

Further review by Director
(3) A person who makes a complaint and is not satisfied with the
response of the society’s board of directors may have the matter reviewed by
a Director. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.11, s. 68.

Bill 210 - Proposed change:

No review if matter within purview of court
(3) A society shall not deal with a complaint under this section if the
subject of the complaint is an issue that has been decided by the court or
is before the court.

In the CFS Act, a "Director" is someone appointed by the Minister. So in the
current version, it states that if a client is not satisfied with the
Society response to the complaint, they may ask for the matter to be
reviewed by the Ministry (whose decision will be under jurisdiction of the
Ombudsman)

The new proposed Bill 210 change states that a Society will not have to..
actually SHALL NOT deal with a complaint under this section (68) if the
subject of the complaint is an issue that has been dealt with by the court
or is before the court. WOW! This is incredible. That means, every child in
care who has been in care through a court order will not be allowed to
complaint. No parents can complain since their involvement with the CAS may
have been through a court order. This is INCREDIBLE! This is going to give a
CAS absulute power to refuse almost any and all complaints simply by saying
"we are not allowed to deal with this since this matter is before the
courts" or "we are not allowed to deal with this complaint since the subject
of the matter has been before the courts!

Remember, if a child in care was put in care by court order and that child
wishes to complaint about the services recieved by their CAS worker, the
worker can refuse to deal with it because of the fact that the services
recieved by that child are court ordered and they are not allowed to deal
with any complaints regarding an issue dealt with by the court. That being
the services orded by the court!

This is dangerous... very very dangerous. I simply wanted to clarify this
section of the ACT which was being slipped in under some very progressive
and postive legislation which of course, will also have some holes.
--------------END OF THIRD PHRASE ANALYSIS------------

You stated:

>Clients, whether caregivers or
>children in care, will, indeed, be able to continue to bring complaints,
>with
>one exception. In the legislative change you note, the legal system trumps
>the Society complaint process, which I thought you would prefer. In these
>cases, a Society is no longer able to deal with the complaint. If the
>legal
>system is not involved, then the complaint procedure stands, which is
>contrary to what you wrote.

I think I have clarified my concerns with this above but realize that in
different circumstances it could possibly be beneficial? I can't possibly
know all scenarios' just wanting to bring some awareness.

>Nevertheless, there are still other clear avenues of complaint. The
>Ombudsman
>of the province. And, of course, The Child Advocacy Office. Currently, the

I have clarified that as well regarding the fact that the Ombudsman has no
juristiction over a CAS which I have confirmed several times on the phone,
and in writing. They do have juristiction over a Ministry and maybe over
Group Homes etc.. but not over a CAS and it's staff. Even the College of
Social Workers and Social Service Workers does not require all child welfare
staff to be registered with them to ensure accountability.

>Child Advocacy Office reports to the Minister. But, there are plans to
>change this and have them report directly to the legislature, which will
>give
>the Child Advocacy Office far more freedom, on paper, to do its work. I
>note
>"on paper" because the Child Advocacy Office is already a very effective
>instrument for children in care in Ontario.

I am excited about her office going independant and hope that this improves
the situation for clients of Child Welfare. I will be watching this closely
and with anticipation.

>While you note the improved ability to allow Crown Wards to be adopted by
>allowing open adoptions, you do not note the overall arc of the legislation
>for our international readers. The Act attempts to reduce the number of
>children coming in to care and staying in care. Allowing more adoptions is
>just one way. Increasing community member rights at the point of
>apprehension is another. As well, the legislation makes it easier to
>quickly
>place children with family members at the point of apprehension, rather
>than
>temporarily bringing them in to care while a home study is complete.
>These
>are all good changes but overdue.

>
>So, Bill 210 makes a genuine effort help keep children in their community,
>with their family and to find permanent adoptive homes for them. It does
>not
>create a situation where all clients "will only have their perpetrators to
>complaint to."

I agree. I support some of those changes and hope to see a great improvement
in the current adversarial system. I was just bringing attention to one
section.


>Sadly, what it does not do is address ways to improve the in care situation
>for Crown Wards, especially adolescents, who will never return home or be
>adopted. Instead, it continues to see foster care and group care as a
>"limbo," rather than recognizing that this "limbo" is the only home many
>children will ever know. The OACAS, National Youth in Care Network and a
>number of other groups recommended improving outcomes for youth in care
>through tuition waivers, extending the age of support until 24 for those

I agree. And former wards etc... of any age could have supports to get them
into school as well. We sometimes go out and try to survive for ten years
only to fail miserablly then when we mature or are ready, it is still
sometimes hard to get started. Even the 80 dollar fee to apply is hard to
come up with.


>Finally, you note:
> > The proposed changes will remove vital steps in the complaint procedure
> > which provide at least some form of external accountability, even though
> > they are currently rarely effective.
>
>Can you point me to any data that supports your case for complaint
>procedures
>being "rarely effective?" I didn't know such data existed in Ontario and
>would love to see it.

I think I have done that by pointing anyone to read the documents on the
right side of http://www.oacas.org

Thanks
John Dunn
http://web.ncf.ca/fe281/

_________________________________________________________________
Express yourself instantly with MSN Messenger! Download today - it's FREE!
http://messenger.msn.click-url.com/go/onm00200471ave/direct/01/



------------------------ Yahoo! Groups Sponsor --------------------~-->
Give underprivileged students the materials they need to learn.
Bring education to life by funding a specific classroom project.
http://us.click.yahoo.com/S_B0zD/_WnJAA/a8ILAA/iCOolB/TM
--------------------------------------------------------------------~->

Thanks for using the afterfostercare discussion list.

Our web site is temporarily down. For now, please visit
http://afterfostercare.tk
Yahoo! Groups Links

<*> To visit your group on the web, go to:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/afterfostercare/

<*> To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:
afterfostercare-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com

<*> Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to:
http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/

Friday, June 10, 2005

Letter To Bountrogianni

In your recent submission to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, Bill 210, you proposed changing section 68 of the CFSA.

To quote from Bill 210 specifically
"68. (1) Every society shall establish a review procedure that satisfies the prescribed requirements for hearing and dealing with a complaint by a person concerning services sought or received by the person from the society, and shall make information concerning the review procedure available to any person on request."

I want to know if the public will be able to obtain a copy of the proposed "prescribed requirements" mentioned above or who will draft and distribute these requirements to the various CAS's in Ontario.

I would also like to know if you will be consulting the public regarding the making of those prescribed requirements?

Thank you very much
John Dunn
Executive Director
The Foster Care Council of Canada
http://www.afterfostercare.tk

Edmonton Death of Child in Care

Province to release investigations into deaths of children in care
Last updated Jun 10 2005 08:40 AM MDT
CBC News
EDMONTON – The province will now release the reviews done when a child who has had contact with Children's Services dies.

"We do want to make sure that our processes are transparent," Children's Services spokeswoman Jody Korchinski said. "But, as well, we do have a responsibility to the children that are in our care and protecting their privacy and their rights."

Until this change – brought about in part by the death of 13-year-old Nina Courtepatte, who was found dead on a golf course in April – the ministry wouldn't release that a child in care had died, how the case was handled or any recommendations made.

Nina Courtepatte
Even relatives weren't allowed to see the results of any investigation.

"I really understand that we need privacy laws," Liberal children's services critic Weslyn Mather said. "They're necessary to protect the privacy and rights of children. But not to cover up information to protect children's services."

When Nina Courtepatte died – five people, unrelated to her, have been charged with first-degree murder, aggravated sexual assault and kidnapping – Children's Services wouldn't say whether they had ever had contact with her.

Her parents had last seen her April 1, last spoke to her late on April 3 and her body was found April 4. Nina was not reported missing until two days after she was found on the fourth fairway of the Edmonton Springs Golf Resort, two days after police had released descriptions in hopes of identifying her.

A CBC investigation found social workers were called to Nina's home almost 20 times – beginning when she was four years old – to investigate allegations of abuse and neglect.

The allegations included sexual abuse, that the children had to parent each other, and that Nina and her siblings at one point had nothing to eat but cabbage. Social workers noted when she was 10 she was using make up to cover bruises.

Around that time, Nina was hospitalized with dehydration and worms.

She was never removed from the home. Her file was closed a year before she died, when she was 12.

None of the allegations in the files have been proven in court.

Children's Services Minister Heather Forsyth launched an investigation into the department's dealings with Nina, and said they would make public that report.

They are now expanding that to the deaths of all children in care. The special case reviews will be posted on the department's website and exactly what information will appear is being decided.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Class Action - Disabled Kids Info

http://www.reko.ca/special_kids.html

Hello Mr. Dunn,

Thank you for your e-mail message. If parents of disabled children would
like to join or obtain further information about the class action lawsuit,
they can contact legal counsel Mr. Douglas Elliott and representatives from
the legal firm of Roy, Elliott, Kim, O'Connor) at 416-271-3052 or
416-362-1989 or they can go to their Web site: http://www.reko.ca. The
specific section on special needs children is available at the following Web
link: http://www.reko.ca/special_kids.html

In closing, thank you for contacting Ms. Martel about this matter.

Sincerely,
Julie Lavertu
Executive Assistant to Shelley Martel, MPP for Nickel Belt and NDP Critic
for Health and Long-Term Care

Room 112, Main Legislative Building, Queen's Park
Toronto, ON M7A 1A5
Telephone - 416.325.2507
Fax - 416.325.9185
E-Mail - jlavertu@ndp.on.ca
http://www.ontariondp.on.ca/

OPP Threaten Web Site

In a posting on the news page of the Dufferin VOCA web site (Voices of Children Aliance) it is noted that the police have threatened their web site due to content. The post from the site is as follows:

Police Threaten Website


June 8, 2005
This evening two officers of the Ontario Provincial Police visited the home of Robert T McQuaid to complain about the content of the Dufferin VOCA website. We will keep you informed of developments, if possible.

You can visit them at http://www.fixcas.com and keep an eye on them to ensure that if something happens to them, we can follow up on it. We will be sure to keep everyone informed of the situation through the Council's web site.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Ottawa CAS on Recording Meetings

The Council wrote a letter to the Ottawa Children's Aid Society asking about clients rights to record meetings with CAS staff members. France Clost, communications officer of the Ottawa CAS informed us that they will be sending their response via registered mail to us soon. We will update this post when we recieve it.

To read the letter the Council sent to the Ottawa CAS click below:
Council Letter

Wilfred Laurier University Studies Social Work

Part 1


Wilfred Laurier University study on Social Work ethics - Have a complaint? (more...)



Part 2


A revealing document by Wilfred Laurier which exposes the culture of social work in CAS agencies. A quote below:

"On another level, child welfare organizations are also large bureaucracies with certain expectations of workers that regulate their conduct around the permanent placement process. When a parent is identified as a permanent placement client, there is an internal expectation that workers will adhere to the procedures that are understood as appropriate for the categorization. One worker speaks of how she feels “furious” when the procedures are not followed:

“I just really think that if the family service worker doesn’t agree with the [permanent placement] decision we need to contain that within our walls. We can’t allow that discrepancy to be seen by the client or by the community ? [she] made us look like fools in the community and has told mom that maybe there is a chance that we are backing off here? . She was a new worker. She had only been here for 5 weeks and really felt badly for mom, as did everybody else.”

This worker continued by describing how agreement about the permanent placement categorization was achieved, by holding a meeting for the purposes of bringing the worker “on board” with the plan."

See page 12 of this report

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Ombudsman Report - CAS's and Protection Issues

This is a letter to the editor of the Globe and Mail after an article about the Ministry returning custody of children back to their parents.

Knowing how some staff at the various Children's Aid Societies have acted in the past, I worry that there will be families who have their children with severe disabilities under the custody of the Children's Aid Society that will be excluded from this decision due to the fact that the Minister stated that the only children who should have their custody returned to their family should have no "protection issues". Unfortunately families who are involved with CAS's are often frustrated by them to the point of conflict which in turn, gets them labelled as a "protection concern" or having "protection issues" ending up in having their child apprehended. I would like the media to accept all of these type of reports after custody begins getting returned and to listen carefully to the "reason" for the "protection concerns" before thinking they are just child abusers.