I painted this scene once in acrylic and it didn't work, so I conceived it again in oil, and well, it works.
For the past fifteen years people more informed than me have been offering systems corrections but when the concept itself is flawed – well give it up. Oh no, this outfit needs to be re-conceived. Did you hear me. This province needs an entirely new concept.
On this blog I have appreciated the challenge of delving into the B.C. MCFD policies, practices, structure and leadership yet it is not my first priority and besides it's disillusioning. What prompted me to become involved is well known by now. It was one family's struggle to be restored as a family. The more I learned about Paul and Zabeth Bayne's specific case, the more concerned I became that they were not the only B.C. residents whose lives have been consumed to regain status as a family not to mention to restore stability, happiness and peace.
I have openly acknowledged the benefits of social workers who deliver services that truly protect children and resource families. But the overriding concern that owns me is the potential for wrongful accusation of abuse and neglect on hotlines to the MCFD. Anyone can make a confidential if not anonymous phone call to report the suspicion of neglect or abuse. In fact it is the law in B.C. that a person must place such a phone call when there is a suspicion of either abuse or neglect. The gravity of the suspicion is not the caller's concern. That is the social worker's job. By law, social workers must then investigate the family that is reported.
While it may not seem likely that someone would do this, the potential exists for someone to fabricate a story that results in investigation and at the worst might result in charges being laid mistakenly. There is a greater likelihood that some neighbour will misread apparent indicators in an innocent family and begin an avalanche of trouble for a family. The Baynes were victimized by a phone call with what I assume was authentic concern but was soaked with inauthentic foundation. Regular family medical exams and reports validate that. Those children were never pale or thin because they were unfed, neglected or unloved. Those children were living with the challenges of all premature children and they were healthy as far as their doctors were concerned - doctors who were actually trained to make those judgments. Did the local MCFD SW care enough to get it straight, to actually record evidence. Evidence, not suspicion. Evidence, not hearsay. Without a balance between evidence and reported suspicion, written lines later on are incriminating.
A report of a suspicion or a concern is not the equivalent of probable cause but it is treated that way by social workers until they have proven to themselves that there is no factual basis for the suspicion. I would like to see a statical percentage for the number of children who are removed by MCFD workers without probable cause of abuse. I was astounded to read in one U.S. study that 60% of the removed children were taken without probable cause. Further, 50% of the call ins were found unsubstantiated. It appears to be a system that is without the due process of law in the sense that innocent families can feel as though they are being harassed. Is that the way it is in British Columbia?
Social workers usually want to enter the family home to observe and to interrogate caregivers/ parents and children if possible. To allow this to happen always exposes the family to risk. Parents need to become alert to ways to protect themselves from fishing expeditions by social workers. This is why I believe child welfare laws need to be reformed. Legislation, while protecting children should also protect families. Social workers should be compelled to abide by the same regulations that guide law enforcement officers. As long as social workers continue to operate with the level of power granted by the ACT then the privacy and parental rights of all BC'rs will be jeopardized.
So what would your new Concept include?
I'm going back to my easel.
Painting image "Pacific Coastal Lake" is copyright of Ron Unruh and not to be downloaded without permission