Ideally Blue stands for Parent, yellow stands for Social Worker, and red stands for Director. Information freely flows between them as they work to solution. But there is something wrong with that picture. It isn't accurate to the Baynes story, and to many others as well. Quite apart from Paul and Zabeth Bayne, what I hear parents saying is that at every stage that their child is in the protection process with MCFD, the parents are repeatedly deprived of basic information. That is certainly contradictory to the CFCSA intention and prescription because it is essential that the concerns of the Ministry be communicated in order for the parents to improve their situation so they can get their child back home. It is the duty of social workers to keep parents informed about the status of their file and the plan for their child. In spite of that, parents claim they are uninformed or even misinformed. Parents should be apprised of the steps in a plan by which they can have their children returned. Parents also should be notified of any changes of their child’s placement, or health or medical appointments or procedures and it should disturb us all that parents can give evidence of how often their input is not requested and they are left in the dark or at best informed at the last minute. Rather than clear communication a more apt term for what parents should be able to expect is ‘transparent communication.’ Nothing concealed or disguised. It’s preposterous that I even need to describe these distortions of appropriate practice.
Alright now to the Bayne Case. The purpose for Integrated Care Meetings between MCFD social workers and parents is to establish understandings and expectations. During one of the infrequent ICMs with the Baynes, MCFD signed to the effect that the Baynes would be informed and given opportunity to attend all medical related appointments with their children. Before their children were taken, Paul and Zabeth certainly were dutifully diligent about the health care of their children. Just days ago the Baynes were informed that their middle son Baden was scheduled to have an MRI yet they had not been included in either discussing the need for this or invited to attend the procedure. This is their son after all. And had they been invited to the discussion they would certainly want to know why this procedure was being done now when they were the ones with the prior knowledge of his medical care. In fact, when he was very young they recognized Baden’s head was developing an unusual shape so they sought medical advice at Vancouver Children’s Hospital. Baden was given an initial MRI followed by another and then the news that they had no cause for alarm. They were even given professional advice about surgery to reopen the plates of his skull and then wear a helmet twenty-three hours of every day until a normal shape was restored. Further counsel informed them that the treatment was not worth the trauma and the risk and that the boy’s hair covered the slight abnormality. So, here is a case where even while a court hearing is in process, MCFD does something that compels the Baynes to have their lawyer pursue this matter legally. The Baynes also learned that Baden has been registered by MCFD in a mental health program. If this is a necessity, the Baynes should have been informed about the nature of the mental or emotional condition MCFD is seeking to address. What the Baynes have seen is a small boy’s occasional frustration or depression you might call it because of not being able to come home and giving evidence of being hurt and troubled by this ongoing, far too long and insecure living arrangement. If others recognize this, the question once again is why were the Baynes not involved in the decision to register him or given the option of seeking a counsellor or program of their choice, albeit with MCFD approval? Probably, it is fair to ask why MCFD has protracted this process of retaining custody for so long now (thirty months) that a small boy’s need for his parents has produced this result. Let’s be real here. The Ministry has orchestrated care of this child longer than the boy was with the parents and his issues are the result of what the Ministry has done or failed to do.
These past few days have been difficult for them, being able to see Baden for just three hours this week and they know that he needs the parental connection so much just as they need him particularly since the MRI was done Thursday, and as of Saturday, they have not been informed about how this went, what are the results or how Baden felt during this procedure. Would it not have been a generous and proactive gesture to invite the Baynes to be there with their son? But a consideration like that is not in keeping with the MCFD's current court action to remove the children forever.