Thursday, August 28, 2008

CAS Causes Mother to Commit Suicide

More on this story will come but for now, here is the mother's suicide note who has been getting harassed aggressively by CAS.

The full story will folllow:

Instead of being supported in her situation, she was aggressively pursued to the point where workers lied in affidavits.

Mothers Suicide Note:

My mind just doesn’t make sence no more
Its like I’m hurting deep to the core
Please dear god make these thoughts go away
Please dear god I don’t want to live today
I look into my little boys eyes
Is our world built on lies
I feel like I can’t love him as much as I loved my little girl
It just hurts to much to think, I lost the fight for this world
Please dear god make these thoughts go away
Please dear god I don’t want to live today
I just can’t love you the same way, I can’t love the way I did
So long ago before I lost my baby girl to SIDS.
Please baby Michael don’t feel my hurt and anger
Just lay back my little baby in a manger
I’m sorry for bringing you into this horrible place
I’m sorry for the tears running down my face
My dear Michael I am sorry I can’t be the best mom like before
My baby boy I am so sorry I am so sore
My little boy I am just an addict I’m no good for you
That’s what they say and I’m thinking it’s true
Please my little boy if I have to go don’t be sad
Please understand these people think I’m bad
And I think I am too, all I think about is drugs
When I should be giving you kisses and hugs
Please my little boy don’t you ever miss me
Please just remember I love you please don’t cry for me
Little one I’ll always love you
Forever and for always that’s the truth

Please give this song a listen. It was written about a former client of the Ottawa CAS who recently committed Suicide.

Former CAS Ottawa Client - "Dee" Laura Lee Doupe
http://www.archive.org/details/DeesSong (The Song)

Her 2006 Ottawa Municipal Election Campaign Site
http://voteforlauralee.tripod.com/id5.html

In memory of a former CAS client

More to come as the story develops

Peace to you Dee.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Recent News

* Meeting Agenda's and Minutes and more [ More ]
* Listen to a foster care life story from CBC Radio [ Documentary ]
* Watch the Child Abuse Inquiry daily at 9:15am (EST) [here]
* The Children's Aid Society of Ottawa and its Executive Director Barbara MacKinnon plead to charges and go on trial on Wednesday, October 08, 2008. For details call John Dunn at 613-228-2178

Friday, August 15, 2008

Letter to Editor (The National Newspaper)

Letter to Editor:

Any time the media contact a Children's Aid Society to ask questions about a child they hide behind section 45 (8) of the Child and Family Services Act which prevents any person from publishing any information which has the effect of identifying a child who is the subject of a child protection proceeding, the child's foster parents or family members. This was put in place for the protection of the child, not for the protection of a child-protection agency.



As tragic as this situation is, the child in question is no longer with us in her physical and legal sense, therefore the child and family services act no longer applies to her case.



Regardless of whether these particular agencies were involved with her or not, does not give these agencies the legal right to refuse to confirm or to deny their involvement. Tax payers put 1.3 Billion dollars a year into child protection in Ontario and deserve to have certain questions answered.



When Jeffrey Baldwin starved to death after being emotionally and physically abused and neglected for years while under the "watch" of the Catholic Children's Aid Society of Toronto, the judge became frustrated by the agency not co-operating with the court in connection with their disclosure of records.



Thousands of foster children in care have records which are still unable to be obtained by them because the agencies refuse to allow them to have copies of their own lives. Does this sound like the practice of an agency who is looking out for the interests of the children who are ordered to live under their authority?



What about the Millions of Serious Occurrence reports in the custody of these agencies and the Ministry of Children and Youth Services? These are reports which provide evidence of abuse and neglect of children under their care. They won't even allow current or former foster kids to access them. They claim it is to protect them from emotional harm since they might read something about themselves which might upset them -- something that these victims remember all too well.



John Dunn
Former Crown Ward
Executive Director
The Foster Care Council of Canada
http://www.afterfostercare.ca

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Ombudsman Act

According to section 14(5) of the Ombudsman Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. O.6, the Ombudsman, if he has any question as to whether he/his office has jurisdiction over any case or class of cases (CAS cases or the entire MUSH SECTOR) he can apply to Divisional Court for a declaratory order to determine the question.

If the Ombudsman were to hire lawyers, the main issue for the lawyers to keep in mind is that under "Administrative Law", no governmental body can absolve itself of responsibility 100% by sub-delegating its duty to someone else. Ultimately the Government is still responsible.

IE: The Ministry of Children and Youth Services is responsible for the decisions of a CAS because the Ministry can not wash its hands of its own responsibility or duty by sub-delegating its work to another body.

The principal I am talking about is evidenced or demonstrated in the Terms of Reference of the Legislative Assembly's Standing Committee on Social Policy. The Terms of Reference clearly state that it "is empowered to study and report on all matters relating to the mandate, management, organization or operation of the ministries and offices which are assigned to it as well as the agencies, boards and commissions reporting to such ministries and offices. These studies are conducted according to either Standing Order 110 or 125"

Those two standing orders -- 110 and 125 read as follows:


Standing Order 110:


Under Standing Order 110, the policy field committees may conduct relatively unlimited studies. The only restriction is that the study must relate to a ministry assigned to that committee. The subject-matter and duration of the study are left to the committee to decide. This Standing Order is usually used when the committee agrees on what it wishes to study.

Standing Order 125:


Once in each Session, each member (including the Chair), of the Standing Committee on General Government, the Standing Committee on Justice Policy and the Standing Committee on Social Policy is entitled to propose a matter to be considered by their particular committee. The matter must relate to the mandate, management, organization or operation of the ministries and offices assigned to the committee as well as the agencies, boards and commissions reporting to such ministries and offices (this list is found as an appendix to the Standing Orders).

The proposal of a member under this Standing Order must be adopted by at least two-thirds of the members of the committee, excluding the Chair.

A study by the committee under the terms of this Standing Order cannot take precedence over consideration of a government public bill.

The committee may present a substantive report to the House and may adopt the text of a draft bill on the subject matter.

At least one Sessional day, or three hours, of debate, will be allowed on the bill in the House at a time decided upon by the House Leaders of the recognized Parties.

Friday, August 08, 2008

CFSRB Affirms Decision - CAS Memberships Not a Child - Welfare Service

The Child and Family Services Review Board has affirmed its decision that memberships within a Children's Aid Society are not a "service" or a "child welfare service" under the Child and Family Services Act and therefore are not elligible for review by the Board. Yet another level of accountability thwarted.

Original Appeal letter to CFSRB:
here

CAS Executive Director says youth should protest in a Gymnasium

Youth in the community protested outside of the Children's Aid Society because of their concern about a freind of theirs.

The Executive Director of the Sudbury Manatoulin Children's Aid Society, Colette Provost, said she would have preferred to see the demonstration held in a venue such as a school gymnasium. "My concern is that this process really flirts with the danger of children being exploited by other people for their own purposes," she said. "I would have preferred to see this take place in a more child-friendly forum."

So much for our Rights to public protest. Imagine that, an Executive Director of a Children's Aid Society saying that youth should protest in a venue where their voices will not be heard and where they will not be seen. Very disturbing.

Article from http://www.manitoulin.ca

Peaceful protestors ask for change

in demonstration at Island CAS_office

by Michael Erskine

LITTLE CURRENT-Mason Dugas and his young friends picked up placards and marched chanting back and forth outside the Manitoulin offices of the Children's Aid Society (CAS) in Little Current for about an hour last Friday.

Mr. Dugas and his friends were joined by around 30 fellow protestors of all ages, although some admitted to being there to support the young man's right to express his concerns in a peaceful and democratic way. Others clearly had their own agendas with the Children's Aid Society, although for the most part Mr. Dugas's message remained coherently his.

The protest proceeded despite a meeting held between the children and CAS executive director Colette PrŽvost on Tuesday. Perspectives on how that meeting went were decidedly different.

Ms. PrŽvost said that while she met with the young protestor, it was difficult to answer many of his questions because they were very specific to one particular case-thereby being interdicted by the requirements of protecting the privacy rights of a ward of the CAS.

Mr. Dugas, in turn, was adamant that from his perspective the meeting was a complete wash. "They couldn't answer any of my questions," he said. He said that he could not recall receiving answers to his questions even in general terms. "I asked the questions expecting answers," he said. "They said, 'We can't tell you that.'"

Mr. Dugas said that the CAS had sent out a letter (a copy of which was provided to the Expositor) warning foster parents that the demonstration might be an inappropriate place to bring children. "They said they were afraid bad people might come by," said Mr. Dugas. When asked if he had seen any 'bad people' at the protest, Mr. Dugas shook his head in the negative.

Mr. Dugas maintains that his primary concern is ensuring that the Children's Aid Society investigates where they place children thoroughly to ensure they are not putting the child at risk. His particular concern was about a young friend of his who was placed in a home where he understands there were drugs and alcohol being used. He maintains that the CAS did not act in a timely enough fashion to protect his friend and to remove the friend from that environment.

"I asked them why they won't ever admit they were wrong," said Mr. Dugas. "Their answer was 'I know I do, but I can't speak for other people.'"

In her interview with the Expositor, Ms. PrŽvost said that the decision processes under which the CAS operates are very complex, and difficult even for more experienced adults to understand. "There are very many levels of sophistication in our system," she said. "Even adults have a difficult time."

Ms. PrŽvost noted that the requirements of protecting and respecting the privacy of children can make communication in situations like these very frustrating for all parties involved. But she stressed that, contrary to the impression being given by the protesting children and their supporters, there does exist a very stringent system of accountability for the CAS.

While claims have been made that the CAS does not have a system of independent oversight, Ms. PrŽvost said that nothing could be further from the truth. The CAS internal complaint process provides a first level in an attempt to deal with a complainant's concerns. When that process does not solve the issue, Child and Family Services will review the matter in a provincially-mandated legal process.

"There is a third-party review whereby an agency with no connection to the CAS will come and hear the matter," said Ms. PrŽvost.

In addition, every year a number of cases of the CAS receive a random audit to ensure that legal standards are being met by the CAS. "We have no control over which cases are reviewed," noted Ms. PrŽvost.

Ms. PrŽvost clarified that the CAS concerns with the demonstration were more to do with the appropriateness of the venue as a means of communication. "The information picket, as I understand it to be, is about kids having something to say," she said. "I am not sure they have said it in a way that they feel confident they have been heard."

Ms. PrŽvost said she would have preferred to see the demonstration held in a venue such as a school gymnasium. "My concern is that this process really flirts with the danger of children being exploited by other people for their own purposes," she said. "I would have preferred to see this take place in a more child-friendly forum."

Larry Killens, a Providence Bay resident and Rainbow School Board trustee, joined the children on the picket line.

"I support these kids," he said. "I am proud of these kids, not only just our Island kids, for standing up and speaking out about things that concern them in a peaceful way."

Mr. Killens went on to say that he is in support of an initiative to have the CAS placed under the purview of the Ontario Ombudsman's Office. "Basically, every province in Canada has a process of oversight for child and family services," he said. Ontario, he claims, does not.

Ms. PrŽvost was adamant that that point of view is not reflective of reality. The CAS, she maintained, is very closely monitored and reviewed. "We are looking after the welfare of children," she said. "That is how it must and should be."

Mr. Killens, in his capacity as school trustee, is currently working on a protocol for interaction between the CAS and the Rainbow board. He said he had been concerned over liability issues as there was no formal policy in place. He praised the school board administration for their diligence in getting the policy in place. "My compliments to the director of education for confronting this huge concern," he said. "Without this commitment by the board we would not now have it."

Mr. Killens expressed his disappointment at Algoma-Manitoulin MPP Mike Brown and the premier of Ontario, suggesting that the region's member of the Ontario legislature should have been at the protest and that the province needs to step in to ensure proper care is being given to the province's youth.

Off-Island media attended the event. With television cameras whirring, a TV journalist interviewed the young protestor and others on the scene.

Although a police cruiser drove past the demonstration twice during the hour, there was no overt police presence at the demonstration. Occupants of other offices at the building complex which houses the CAS were requested by the agency to park their cars at the far end of the parking lot to help ensure the children's safety.

Another group of young people was holding a demonstration at the corner of Highway 6 and Meredith Street-where they continued to wave their placards long after the central picket had closed down and everyone had gone home.

Mr. Dugas said he was pleased with the turnout for the demonstration he had organized. He expressed some confusion over the online petition to have the CAS overseen by the Ontario Ombudsman. "I just want them to be more careful about where they are putting kids," he said. "I don't want anymore kids being put in places that aren't safe."

He also wanted to share the credit for the demonstration's success. "I want to thank my friend Zack," he said. "He has been with me every step of the way-and my brother."

Many of the cars passing in front of the demonstration slowed to a crawl, their drivers craning to see what the signs were saying, and then honking support before driving away. Other vehicles simply honked in support as they drove past.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Lennox and Addington Family and Children's Services places child in abusive home

Child made Crown Ward abused in care by adoptive parents

http://www.canlii.org/en/on/onscdc/doc/2007/2007canlii38120/2007canlii38120.html

Former CAS Workers Speaks Out

A former CAS worker is in the process of starting an online discussion forum to expose information about CAS's and promote better understanding of the system. The discussion forum can be found online at http://talkcas.forumotion.net/forum.htm

Saturday, August 02, 2008

A Case for Ombudsman Jurisdiction over Children's Aid Societies

DRAFTING NOTES

Lack of Accountability:
Jeffrey Baldwin - Judge ordered CCAS to disclose information - Frustrated with CCAS - was worker who supposedly supervised child held accountable?

CFSRB - quotes from decisions on Canlii - CAS's always fight jurisdiction

Board meeting of CASOTT discussing too many levels of accountability

OACAS Letter to me by Merv Bernstein (now child advocate in alberta) - discussing too many levels of accountability

Social Workers sworn to secrecy under oath not to discuss anything to do with the Societies during or after they leave / fired / quit

Introduction
This document has been written to impress upon Ontario's Legislators the extreme importance of voting in favour of providing Ontario's Ombudsman the ability to oversee Children's Aid Societies.

Regardless of which political party introduces such legislation, voting in favour of it is ultimately in the best interests of Ontario's children and youth who deserve your vote for the protection of their rights and well-being.

Keeping this in mind, it is more important than ever to put partisanship aside when considering such legislation because of the fact that approximately 30,000 children and youth under the authority of the province's Children's Aid Societies are legally -- and without choice -- the Government of the day's children.

Having said that, depending on which party you are a member of -- these children and youth may be your children today, or they will become your children tomorrow.


BACKGROUND

Internal Oversight Mechanisms of Children's Aid Societies
In Ontario, there are 53 non-profit corporations which have been granted licences under the Child and Family Services Act and approved as "Children's Aid Societies" by the Ministry of Children and Youth Services -- a subdelegate of the Ontario Government -- to provide child-welfare services to Ontario's children and youth and their families.

The governing By-Laws of Ontario's 53 Children's Aid Societies have been drafted by the founding Directors of each of the Societies between 75 and 130 years ago. The By-Laws allow members of the local community to apply for and become "Regular Members" of the Societies so that they can provide oversight of the Board of Directors of each Society, vote on the decisions which have been made by the Directors during the Annual General Meeting of the Regular Members each year, and generally hold the Directors accountable for their actions and decisions or lack thereof.

The By-Laws of a Society afford the Regular Members certain rights and priviliges that non-members are not privy to such as the ability to review certain books of the corporation, meeting minutes, and financial records, and according to the By-Laws of the Socities if any of the Regular Members have a concern about an issue connected with the Corporation they can request from their Society a list of their fellow members so that they can contact them by mail and explain the issue of concern to the general membership in the hope of drumming up enough support among them -- usually 1/10th of the Regular Members -- to call a meeting of the members for the purpose of dealing with the matter by discussing and voting on a By-Law change or some other resolution to the satisfaction of the membership.

In order for the Regular Members to call a meeting of the members, 1/10th (10%) of the members are required to file with the Society at their head office a requisition letter stating thier desire to call a meeting regarding the issue of concern to them. Once 10% of the Regular Members have submitted such a requisition, the Board of Directors are required by law to call a meeting of the Regular Members so that they may deal with the matter however the Regular Members see fit.

External Oversight

Modernization of the By-Laws

In keeping with the spirit and intent of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, John Dunn, a former foster child who now advocates for increased quality and accountability of child-welfare services attempted on February 05, 2007 to advocate for children and youth in foster care to have

a) stronger voices concerning; and
b) oversight of;

the services they receive from their respective Children's Aid Societies across Ontario.



The By-Laws and the Corporations Act require
the Board of Directors of each Children's Aid Society could add a section to the "Membership" articles of its By-Laws creating a special class of "members" defining all Society Wards or Crown Wards

Beginning with the Children's Aid Society of Ottawa, Dunn filed a request for a list of people who vote for changes in a Children's Aid Society called "Regular Members".