Wednesday, March 31, 2010

SOCIAL WORK AND A CASE LIKE THE BAYNES / Part 153 / For Love and For Justice / Zabeth and Paul Bayne/


How does a social worker convince himself/herself to continue to work toward separating children from parents when it becomes increasingly clear that the evidence for separation is worse than confused? It’s faulty.

First, as a preface to this piece, I worked for over forty years as a pastor and a church denominational executive officer, and I am qualified first hand with stories of human hurt, personal pain, mental illness, anger, profound grief, domestic violence, family dysfunction, restoration, redemption, task frustration and job satisfaction. I considered it a high calling and I believe that I helped people.

In our society, there are so many professions into which people have entered with a sincere desire and intention to make a difference. A social worker is one of those occupations. I am convinced that social workers do enrich individual lives and families by assisting them to achieve solutions to physical, social and emotional impasses.

The British Columbia Association of Social Workers is an association that supports and promotes the profession of social work and advocates for social justice.

Here in the Fraser Valley, The University of the Fraser Valley offers degree and diploma programs in social work and human services.

It is an honourable and valuable vocation. Social workers find employment in various societal practices. Some social workers find their place within the Ministry of Children and Family Development as directors, supervisors, and case workers. Since the safety of the child is the paramount concentration of this Ministry, social workers understand that protecting children means coming into some conflict with parents. Every parent who perceives himself/herself as impacted negatively by an MCFD action is going to be distraught, angered, in dispute, perhaps hostile. A social worker is trained to deal with personal emotions as well as those of the affected parties. Some detachment is required to survive.

So, this morning I question how a social worker convinces oneself that placing these three children for adoption is the very best course of action? How does a SW do that when the child repeatedly asks daddy on a regular weekly visit, “Can I come home yet?” And the child has asked that question for two and a half years.

Perhaps initially the data on this case convinced the social workers involved that Paul and Zabeth were responsible for their youngest child’s injuries in autumn 2007. Why would they not be convinced by the data when the medical records by respected colleagues at Children’s Hospital implied that liability via diagnosis of non accidental injury? That was then. Since that time, it has become evident in court and out of court that the injuries are attributable to other causes and that the accidental injury reported by parents is valid. There is at least sufficient reason to question the initial diagnosis and injury cause. How can a social worker continue to view Paul and Zabeth as uncooperative, manipulative and troublesome when they are doing precisely what any zealous and committed parent will do to recover a family? How do a director and the social worker’s supervisors continue to see continued custody and possible eventual adoption as in the best interests of three children when nothing remains to point toward risk in returning them to their parents?

The high road here is to inform the Ministry lawyer that the case for the order is being set aside and the children will be returned to Paul and Zabeth immediately.


  1. Section 4 2 (a)(v) of the Social Workers Regulation (a regulation supplementing Social Workers Act, not well known to the public) stipulates that MCFD's SW are exempt person. Hence, they are not required to register with the British Columbia Association of Social Workers and are not abide by any code of ethics or professional standard. These dogs are not leashed. Owner of these dogs will turn a blind eye when they bite.

    Removing children and getting continuing custody so that children can be adopted is SW's most fearsome power and will generate the maximum amount of business and job security to service providers in this industry.

    To SW, the Bayne's children are nothing more than pawns used to beat their parents into submission and targets for financial exploitation.

    Furthermore, SW are paid to take care of removed children. Taking them to see doctor is their duty. There is nothing serving praise.

  2. I have been a social worker for over fifty years and I must say that Ron has a much higher opinion of social workers than I have. To start with there is little real rigor in their education or their training. Social work schools chase after all the latest gurus and family theorists. Practices taught should be based on a sound evidence and not just on theory of the month. As a result social work becomes a belief based occupation and not one based on proven facts. There is nothing wrong with having a belief in a social value system and in striving to bring it into being. However, the methods used should be empirically tested. Process without useful outcomes is a dish frequently served. This is especially true in child protection. It is always vital that child protection is based on good evidence. There are important guidelines, which provide protection for children and fairness towards parents. The management of the children's ministry is ignorant of such guidelines. Not only are they ignorant, but they have no concept that there could and should be guidelines. To them filling in forms is what child protection is all about. Fill in the blanks you must.Never mind if you fill them in with nonsense like the risk assessment in the Baynes case. Lots of fine people go to work for the ministry for children. They have commitment and ethics. That is why few of them stay and staff turnover is scandalous. The obedient plodders are left to perpetuate the chaos. Of course children must be protected. I have personally removed hundreds of them and I believe they had better lives as a result. However, if I had done what the social workers did in the Bayne case, I would hang my head in shame.


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