Friday, April 16, 2010
CHILD REMOVAL & BEST INTERESTS / Part 169 / For Love and For Justice / Zabeth and Paul Bayne/
Removal practices in British Columbia are unfavorable to children.
Social workers experience a decision making predicament because not only must they achieve the mandate of protecting children but must also seek to keep families intact. These two are conflicting values or, at least they appear to be in B.C.
Here is what I mean. When social workers leave the child in the parental home to preserve the family unit, the child is not fully protected because of the risk factor – the possibility that an abuse may occur. If the child is removed from the home to provide protection for the child, then social workers are not preserving the family together with all that is familiar to the child. This is clear evidence that an option to remove children is unsatisfactory if the “best interests” of the child are the objective. Through the 1990’s and the early 2000’s the child’s best interests and the preservation of the family were a diminished priority in preference for the focus upon the physical safety of children.
Our Ministry of Children and Family Development must develop policy that states unambiguously and transparently what is of greatest importance, which is, the safety of children, the promotion of best interests of children, or the preservation of the family. Is that possible?
I will say this. The MCFD should be diligent right now about upgrading alternatives to child removal – alternatives that satisfy more completely the Ministry mandate while being less disruptive of the child’s life and home life. I can tell you now that irrespective of conscientious foster parenting in some cases, the MCFD is not and can never be an ideal parent for children. I simply have to cite the three Bayne children as examples – examples mind you, because there are many, many other children passing through this hard passage. Care from foster parents and only occasional access to biological parents, awareness of the impermanence of the foster relationship, deep longing for home and stability, acute sense of loss, inexplicable childhood grief, little opportunity to express personal feelings or ability to process feelings to the point of expression, longing for home that is met with delay after delay, diminishing trust, inability to understand why. How can a child thrive?
There are situations where a parent or parents are unable or incapable of caring for their children or a danger to their children. The Bayne family is not one of these and has never been. The Fraser Valley MCFD botched this badly. And now, twooooooooooooo years and twenty-six months have been the burden borne by three children who have parents who have been misjudged, mistreated, maligned and were in October 2007 and are today in April 2010, capable, willing, deserving and desirous of caring for their three children - heart broken yet respectfully soldiering on every day, waiting for the normalcy of a family in one home to be restored to them.