Saturday, June 12, 2010

Let the Child Advocate be Heard / Part 218 / For Love and For Justice / Zabeth and Paul Bayne/

My involvement with Paul's and Zabeth's campaign for justice has alerted me to related news from across the country. I am still amazed at the issue parallels in all provinces. I am not a news network so I am a day late, yet BC-rs, where have you heard something like this before?

From Winnipeg CBC news sources on Thursday came this information. Manitoba has a Children's advocate position just as British Columbia does. Billie Schibler is the current children's advocate who has been an outspoken critic of the government with regard to issues facing children in care. In April she left her post on indefinite leave due to personal family reasons. Hers is to be an office independent of government, dealing directly with the Manitoba legislative assembly – an office similar to our B.C. Advocate Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond. Ms. Schibler's term in office is scheduled to expire in April 2011. she left very early. Without an advocate in place, Bonnie Kocsis is the acting children's advocate, and an acting officer is not viewed as healthy because of the reluctance to affect necessary changes. An all-party committee will convene soon to discuss potential candidates to replace Schibler. Her office is in the news now because on Wednesday a private Advocate's report was leaked. It declared that provincial child welfare system is in a state of crisis. Manitoba has an NDP government. Although it was intended to be private, Liberal MLA Kevin Lamoureux who had access to the report because he is a member of the budget committee, forwarded it to the media. Lamoureux's defence of his action stated, "our children are much more important than something that happens beyond closed doors." The report stated that children in care have increased from 6600 to 8600 over a five year span. It claims that social workers are quitting due to overwhelming caseloads that are two-and-a-half times larger than is reasonable. It referenced critically the government policy of placing aboriginal children in non aboriginal foster homes. When this report was leaked, the Opposition requested that the Advocate appear to answer questions about the report but the government would not grant this and came under immediate heavy pressure. Then on Thursday, news broke that the NDP government will introduce a bill requiring the Children's advocate to appear annually before a legislative committee to answer questions about child welfare in Manitoba. Ostensibly the intention of this government action to create an interactive forum with the Advocate is to provide greater insight to the government and to Manitobans regarding the challenges as well as the accomplishments of child welfare. One is compelled to trust the government's motive integrity. Yet Family Services Minister Gord Mackintosh was quick to defend the government's past responses to the Advocate's concerns.
What do you think about that?

Read more: CBC children's advocate story

Advocate warns of state of chaos

Children's advocate website

AM 1150

Advocate on indefinite leave

Brandon Sun – social workers leave

Winnipeg Free Press – backlog a challenge for agency

Chaos

What is Advocacy

18 comments:

  1. Since the Representative of Children and Youth was appointed in BC, no great changes have occurred for children in care. I was hoping that having an advocate for children in care would change things for foster children but it hasn't. Although I quite often hear things about Mary Ellen Turpel Lafond in the news, it does not impress me in any way. I have sat in on one of her lectures and was still not impressed by her answers to the questions asked by the public. Mary Ellen Turpel Lafond's work is very important and is bringing quite a few things to light but has done nothing for the immediate needs of foster children. I don't personally think it will make any difference whether the appointed advocate of a province reports to the government or not. Government officials are well aware of what is going on within child protection agencies and they must either support it or choose to turn a blind eye to it for whatever reason. Reports are written, reviews are submitted and nothing ever changes except for maybe a few words on paper that never get put into practice.
    In general, front line social workers have poor assessment and evaluation skills, poor communication techniques, they don't abide by any sort set of practice standards and they don't have to answer to anyone especially considering the fact that they do not have to register with their governing body. Their lack of regulation leads to poor outcomes for children in care. Social workers are able to use personal opinion to make decisions. Instead of assisting families to stay together, they pass judgment and make decisions based on these judgments.
    From front line social workers to government officials, they are all responsible for what is happening to children in care.
    21 percent of children who left care in the last ten years killed themselves. Was it because the bond between them and their families was slowly destroyed over a period of time by supervised access or false information being passed down from social worker to child about the parent? Was it because they had nowhere to go once they were released from foster care due to the broken down family ties?

    Having a child advocate is not going to change the system. All these little tiny bandaid the government keeps putting in place aren't going to save the 100,000 children in care in Canada.
    I have almost given up on the public. After seven years of listening to parents and children tell me their stories, seven years of sitting through trials and hearings, seven years of watching lawyers convince parents to sign consents for MCFD, seven years of social workers talking to parents like they are five years old, seven years of reading through risk assessments that say almost exactly the same thing about every family....seven years of losing faith that the public will ever care about the most precious thing Canada has: children.

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  2. Anon 5.05, it seems to me that you make living as some public servant. My sincere and deepest apology if I am mistaken! However, if you are one of them and at the same time you really care about the most precious, get out of anonymity and start truly serving children instead of serving their abusers! For example, share our knowledge and experiences with the public on internet, instead of anonymously losing faith in the systematically deceived, please!
    Every person should be prepared for jail and economic ruin, for the sacrifice of his personal welfare, in the interest of his country. Every person has a duty in refusal to cooperate in any undertaking that violates the Constitutional Rights of the individual, said A. Einstein. I wish
    GOOD LUCK TO ALL WITH CLEAR CONSCIENCE!!

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  3. Anonymous above obviously has knowledge and skills and insider information. I agree with most of the comments and they show the sad lack of knowledge and skills in the managerial ranks of the ministry.If they had the knowledge and skills they would ensure in depth training so that the social workers could practice with discipline and confidence. If the field staff are lacking in knowledge and skills, there is nothing to be achieved by adding more staff to make the same mistakes. There are many more staff per population than thirty years ago and caseloads are actually smaller. In spite of this practice standards have plummeted, As long as 30% of cases are under-investigated and 30% are over-investigated, time wastage and abuse of clients will continue. Too bad anonymous above has to write incognito. I am sure that he/she/it could be of great help.

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  4. In response to comments posted by Ray Ferris and Josef Fisher: I am not a public servant (not in the social work profession) and I do not have insider information. I am posting my comments anonymously only because I was asked to stay anonymous and not because I am ashamed of who I am or what I do. The last seven years of my life have been devoted to child protection and that has included many activities that have formed my beliefs and opinions about child protection. I know we need it, I know there are children who suffer at the hands of their parents. I have done my homework, spent endless hours in courtrooms or reading or talking with parents, social workers, lawyers, people in government, professors, media people. I have literally devoted my life to doing my best to make change happen for our children, the children of BC, Canada, North America. I would love to share all the stories that I have heard and I do on a regular basis. The problem is that child protection needs so much more than just a little media attention for one or two isolated cases. Until the public is aware of what the stats really mean, until the public sees how society is damaged by such alarming numbers of apprehended children, they will continue to live in ignorance and child protection will remain the same.
    If a person does not believe society is being affected, all they have to do is spend a couple of weeks volunteering at a foodbank or shelter talking to the clients.
    A mother is told by MCFD that she must take a course in order to keep her child living with her. The course requires her attendance everyday from 9a.m. until 3pm. If she doesn't attend, she will be in breech of the supervision order and the child will be apprehended so she quits her job. She applies for welfare but they tell her there is a three month waiting period before she can collect assistance because she did have an income. Her hydro gets cut off. A social worker comes and removes her child because there is no power and she has no job or food in the house.
    MCFD asked this mother to consent to a supervision order after receiving complaints from her ex-spouse about her ability to parent. They did not assist this mother and child in staying together after the father left. Instead they made it almost impossible for the single mother to succeed.
    Parents have no reason to lie to me. They tell me there stories, let me read over any or all documentation. Most parents even give written consent for their social workers to share all information with me. I hear it all and have based my opinions on what I have learned from all of my experiences and other people's experiences combined.
    I am educated but not in social work. I have read a great deal on the subject, but it is not my line of work. I spend all of my spare time on the subject but not for pay of any sort. I do it for the children that are suffering and so should every Canadian until this is resolved because everyday that passes is wasted time in the eyes of a child that is being abused or harmed or neglected or taken away without good reason.
    I have met the Baynes, I have read over several of their expert medical reports, I believe their story and feel they should have their children but I have met hundreds of parents in similar situations to them and I grieve for every one of them.

    PAC

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  5. Whenever there is an uproar about child protection - and there are often uproars - the solution proposed always involves throwing more money at the system (e.g., in the form of reports, studies, social workers, etc.). We continually hear about how social worker's caseloads are too high, but we rarely, if ever, hear about how easy it is for anyone to make a false allegation of child abuse, and we rarely if ever hear about anyone getting prosecuted for the same. We also rarely if ever hear about wrongful removals.

    Even though a false allegation has the potential to completely destroy a family, nothing is done about false allegations. The answer to this criticism will be: "Oh, but if we prosecute false allegations, no one will ever make a claim of child abuse, they will be too afraid."

    The Child Protection industry is so big and powerful and crafty it is very difficult to get through to people how corrupt it is. No matter what you say, they always have an answer that sounds perfectly legitimate unless you know that it is all lies.

    Meanwhile, children rot in foster care, on the streets, prisons and graveyards.

    The only politician I've ever really been impressed with in terms of sincerity and motivation and action was Nancy Schaefer. Many believe she and her husband were murdered, because of Ms. Schaefer's powerful work exposing the corruption of child protection services. But if you even claim that this might have been the case, people call you some crazy conspiracy freak, so I won't even bother suggesting that.

    Nancy Schaefer was a great woman, who did a lot to expose the horrific cruelty and corruption of the system. If only we had more politicians like her - ones who truly were ready to risk everything in order to truly protect children.

    "On November 16, 2007, Senator Nancy Schaefer published a report entitled, “THE CORRUPT BUSINESS OF CHILD PROTECTIVE SERVICES.” The report exposes that there are many people being ignored or prohibited from protecting children who are begging for protection, and also children who are wrongfully taken from their families who want to be with them. We need to put an end to these corrupt practices. The last line of this report said, “Please forward to anyone interested.” So please forward this information to your lawmakers and ask them to carry on her work."

    http://parentingnewsnetwork.com/files/2010/03/Nancy-Schaefer-CPS-report.pdf

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  6. It is too bad that all the anonymous writers cannot take a number or something. Then one would no who is writing and who is responding to whom. How about anon 29, of anon blue eyes, or anon poet and so on. I not that anon wise one, does not have a degree in social work, that is why she has a good grasp of things.

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  7. My apology for my suspicion, Anon! I am not smart like you, yet I fight for justice 12,5 years, since social worker who initiated cruel and inhuman persecution of my child carelessly confessed in writing that she lied "due to lack of more appropriate categories" among 18 reasons listed in the Child, Family and Community Service Act decreeing "when protection is needed".
    If true what I read, then Paul and Zabeth are, like my wife and I, 100% innocent of any wrongdoing, whole family senselessly tortured by fraudsters without a shred of compassion and conscience. There goes an excerpt of that reading:
    On Sept 26, 2007, their
    baby vomited after feeding and
    started to gasp for air. She became
    listless and was not breathing. The
    parents rushed her to the emergency,
    but then she was sent home.
    This process continued for three
    weeks. Their baby’s head grew six
    centimeters during this time before
    a CT was finally done and she consequently
    received treatment. The
    parents struggled for treatment for
    their baby for three weeks only to
    have a misdiagnosis (Shaken Baby
    Syndrome) occur and lose their
    three children.

    Thank you.

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  8. I was impressed with the quality of the commentary in todays blog. Clearly there are a number of folks who have been observing the problem for years and are actively doing something about it, either personally or posting in a blog.

    I did some simple number crunching on the Manitoba situation, and was astounded at the 85% figure of aboriginal removals, compared with BC's 51%. By count, even though Manitoba's population approaches only a quarter of BC's population (1,213,815 for MB v. 4,494,232 for BC) by number Manitoba has about the same number of removed aboriginals in BC at 7,344 and 7,310 in MB. As a percentage of total population, BC removes more white children of the total population than Manitoba at .16% versus Manitoba's 0.11%.

    I see it as cultural genocide. As I understand it, there are federal funds given to the province for each aboriginal removed. All children in a family are removed, so the family would have all their benefits associated with children cut. This includes subsidized housing, child tax benefits. These funds then goes to the foster parents, who are paid perhaps ten times that of the birth parents.

    I found it particular funny that there was an observation that foster parents threatened to "quit" if "their" children were taken away.

    The Manitoba aboriginal issue is essentially a transfer of funds from the aboriginal culture to the white culture. The culture of the aboriginal cannot possibly be expected to survive in this arrangement.

    On a BC page, I found a chart where the government seems to be intent on not making the removals of aboriginal children stand out quite so much, as there is a steady decrease in removals as seen on this chart: http://www.bcbudget.gov.bc.ca/2007/sp/cfd/default.aspx?hash=4

    ---

    Now, I found my head nodding in agreement when reading through the one poster where the parent was encountering MCFD's application of "services" forcing the parent to essentially quit a job in order to meet MCFD requirements.

    The strategy appears to be slightly different for each family, but the end objective is the same, to put obstacles and hoops in front of the parents in hopes the "rules" will be violated, which further strengthens the Ministry's position, and then they use this drag out the process for as long as possible, to prepare for court, postpone court, increase the number of court days required, or raise the stakes to a CCO.

    Allegations don't need to be false at all. If the house is dirty, this is reason enough to file a report and initiate an investigation.

    In contrast to a normal police call where one officer will come to a home and file a one page report, the social worker equivalent is a two-person minimum, notes are compiled and entered into the computer. Visits to parents and children, perhaps teachers and collateral "witnesses" will also take place.

    For far fewer resources, child protection social workers perform far more "work." The motivation behind allegations is important, but in practice, is ignored in court, even if it is possible to suggest such a motive to the judge. After all, MCFD operates "in good faith" assuming all caller's motives are pure.

    Anonymity allows the social workers to re-word and enhance the original allegations to make them sound more ominous. Witness the social worker in the Baynes case who thought it prudent to collect information that originate before one parent was even born and put it into a risk assessment report, while leaving out any positive attributes and strengths of the family.

    Child protection worker's eagerness to "substantiate" allegations and collect more, reveals their witch-hunt mentality. This is clearly what the Baynes family is experiencing.

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  9. Universal hypocrisy (world-famous Canadian "politeness") and incomprehensible cowardice (equally famous "peacefulness") to condemn cruel crimes against poor children and families, committed by reputable pillars of this morally sick,racist,unjust society unless it is advantageous, or at least safe, is the real CANADIAN TRAGEDY.

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  10. Child Advocacy, of Representative for Children and Youth (RCY), Ombudsman, Complaint and Resolution are totally useless to parents seeking justice. These bureaucracies and mechanism are mere decoration of fairness and openness. None of them has binding authority on MCFD. If you disagree with SW, they are quick to give you a brochure stating all complaint avenues available. They know before parents begin the process that they will get absolutely nowhere. They are designed to wear and tear distressed parents.

    CFCSA is so lopsided that even decisions of a provincial court judge can be overturned by SW. For example, Section 36(1) allows SW to re-remove a child, with or without fresh evidence, if a judge ordered a custody in favor of parents. This raises the issue of res judicata (relitigation of settled matters). Does it amount to contempt of court? Yes. But no judge could punish them because this is their statutory authority.

    Case law is also frighteningly lopsided. Most court decisions are in favor of MCFD. For instance, in the decision Director v. M.P., 2005 BCPC 651,

    http://www.canlii.org/eliisa/highlight.do?text=director+&language=en&searchTitle=Search+all+CanLII+Databases&path=/en/bc/bcpc/doc/2005/2005bcpc651/2005bcpc651.html

    the following are no defence to parents in temporary custody order application:

    * when there is no complaint from anyone at all;
    * the child is not in immediate danger when in care of parents;
    * MCFD fail to show that removal is in the best interests of the child.

    This literally supports arbitrary child removal. Most Canadians do not known how vulnerable they are until it is too late.

    The legal process is also parent unfriendly. MCFD can use various tactics to delay hearing for an extended period of time. The Baynes case is a good example.

    The Baynes case proves beyond doubt that there are serious problems not only in MCFD but also in the judiciary and legislation. CFCSA betrays the legislative intent of protecting children and fails society's expectation of fairness and cost efficient adjudication. It has brought the administration of justice into disrepute.

    CFCSA allows SW to circumvent due process and deliver severe punishment to parents as they please. That's why SW could get medical records (fishing for drugs, mental disorder, depression history to justify removal), enter and search home without warrant, blackmail parents to admit guilt, force parents to divorce, indoctrinate removed children to hate their parents, just to name a few.

    The root problem is the absolute authority to remove children from their parents. Authorities already have sufficient power to separate abusive parents and vulnerable children from other statutes based on due process and good evidence. CFCSA is totally redundant, oppressive and counter productive.

    Killing CFCSA and outlaw child removal except under several limited conditions is the only solution. If our MLA do not have the political will to do so, we will elect those who have. For our children and our nation, all costs are worthy.

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  11. MCFD has seven days to report to court when a child is removed. In the case of re-removal, a judge can do nothing for that seven day period. And it is true that it doesn't matter if the allegations are true or false. Parents hardly get a chance to defend themselves and when they do, it's much harder to prove something IS NOT true than to prove something IS true.
    The one most important thing about family court that must be stopped is hearsay evidence.
    A man threatened to kill his step-daughter's father if he continued to make sexual comments towards her. The man was in a courtroom when he did it. The sheriff later testified IN COURT that the man had no weapons at the time. A social worker to the stand at the protection hearing and said, 'the stepfather threatened the bio dad with a knife'. No questions were asked. No proof was provided. It was obvious she knew there was no knife because she was present at the previous trial when the sheriff testified. It didn't matter. The impression was left on the courtroom and access to the children was denied for the mother based on her new partners actions.
    Social workers can quote doctors and specialists without ever providing documentation. They can quote children too. They can quote anyone they want and very rarely are questions asked.
    PAC

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  12. Anon 5:05: Was it for a myriad of other reasons with nothing to do with foster care? Not least of which the persons mental health, or due to the abuse they suffered from their parents thus causing the removal?

    Too many folks believe all children should be with families, yet if a child dies by parental abuse/neglect everyone wonders why CPS did nothing to help the kid?

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  13. Anon Long WeekendJune 13, 2010 at 9:02 PM

    PAC - somewhat semantics, but CPS court hearings are not held in "family court." And don't think for a second fathers and mothers don't provide false testimony without proof in these very same courts. A SW should very much be held to a far higher standard though, considering their station in life, which I agree with you on whole heartedly.

    "Social workers can quote doctors and specialists without ever providing documentation. They can quote children too."

    Partially true. Would a good defense lawyer not ask for proof of the physicians statement, thus requiring the SW to back-up what they've said? If the defense lawyer doesn't ask that question doesn't that make him/her just as liable?

    Of course children can be quoted - do we not value our children's words, minds, opinions, and feelings in this country? Again, a good defense lawyer could poke holes in the reliability of the child's quoted statement as provided by the SW.

    No child, youth, or adult wants to be taken away from the one thing they know. Despite suffering massive abuse from parents, children can still remain extremely loyal to that same parent.

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  14. To: Anon Long Weekend (June 13, 2010 9:02 PM)

    You know better than anyone that MCFD often uses up most of the court time allocated for a hearing, as evident in the Baynes and many other cases, leaving little time for parents to present their case and force them to extend the hearing far down in the future. Moreover, refuting SW's allegations with expert evidence is an expensive endeavour. Few oppressed parents can outgun MCFD in financial resources. As in the Baynes case, one could easily go bankrupt in trying to do so.

    Speaking of valuing our children's words, minds, opinions, and feelings in this country, how often are removed children allowed to speak inside and outside courtroom? I have seen a 12-year old child kicked out of a courtroom in a hearing that determines her custody. In most cases, they are not allowed to hear the trial, let alone voicing their opinion as required by law.

    Frankly, if MCFD truly listens and respects a child's view, your foster parenting business will go bankrupt as most children would like to go home.

    Loyalty to one's parents is called family bond. This is a natural human behavior that perhaps only "child protection" SW would try to change.

    Real child abuse is a crime and must be prosecuted criminally. If you have good evidence, convict abusive parents in court and put them in jail. SW will then have the chance to do what they have been trained to do, ie. helping families in need, not to play god and harm families under the pretext of "child protection".

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  15. To Anonymous (June 13, 2010 7:28 PM)

    "Too many folks believe all children should be with families, yet if a child dies by parental abuse/neglect everyone wonders why CPS did nothing to help the kid?"

    Good argument it seems. Ironically, this is one of the reasons that MCFD should surrender its child removal authority, hence relieving your burden from your noble mission impossible.

    Be mindful that no law can prevent child abuse. As long as children exist, child abuse will continue. Our Criminal Code, a due process based on good evidence, has already provided sufficient protection. It is safe to contend that child removal authority, as stated in CFCSA, creates more problems than it solves. It opens the entire "child protection" apparatus to corruption, abuse of authority and creates too many wrongfully accused cases. This is completely unacceptable.

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  16. To Anon long weekend: Most parents who have their children removed cannot afford a 'good defense laywer'. Legal aid provides enough funding for a lawyer to provide about ten hours of work per case. In BC, MCFD, under the CFCSA does hold hearings in family court and yes, I do think a child's views should be heard but it's a difficult subject. It is not in a child's best interest to take the stand but social workers do not always quote a child correctly in the courtroom. As well, the way social workers interview children is atrocious. They use suggestive and leading forms of questions.
    Anon long weekend, you said if a defense lawyer doesn't ask for proof, then he is just as liable. The burdon of proof should be 100 per cent the responsibility of MCFD. If MCFD feels so strongly that a child must be removed, they should have proof and I don't mean a few phone calls from 'community people' who hardly know the family. Anon long weekend, you also state that children suffer massive abuse from parents...it is statements like this that make me advocate so strongly. It is the children that suffer because the public is ignorant of the facts. More children are taken away needlessly than because they are abused. 90 per cent of children removed are not removed because of physical/sexual/emotional abuse. If MCFD and other agencies played fair in the courtroom, less children would be separated needlessly from their parents. Anon long weekend, I do not think children are drugged in care at such a high rate because of mental illness and/or home life because I have seen hundreds of cases where the child was fine until taken into care. There are cases where mental health is this issue but not 12 times more than when children are left at home. Being removed is an extremely traumatic experience, especially if it was not necessary.
    PAC

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  17. Anon at June 13, 2010 7:28 PM stated:

    "Too many folks believe all children should be with families, yet if a child dies by parental abuse/neglect everyone wonders why CPS did nothing to help the kid?"

    ===================================

    That's because CPS usually if not always had very good knowledge that there was abuse occuring and yet they did nothing (as in the Baby P case), yet even though CPS seems inordinately blind to truly abusive situations, they are, so often, ferociously eager to remove children from good families. Then, when they don't rescue a child they could easily have rescued, they say "Poor us, we're damned if we do, and damned if we don't."

    Actually, the only ones who are damned if they do, and damned if they don't are parents. CPS almost never loses.

    Even when CPS screws up big time it generates more business for them. This phenomenon is so prevalent a term was coined - "the Baby P Effect." Meaning that whenever there is a horrific case of child abuse, it generates a spike in the number of applications for children to be taken into "care." Which is always good for business, as every proud CPS worker knows.

    If you are cynical about CPS you might be led to conclude that their tendency to ignore real abuse is willful. After all, it certainly generates a ton of business, and good PR, for them.

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/baby-p-effect-causes-sharp-rise-in-care-applications-1031221.html


    You'll also notice when investigating how CPS deals with biological abuse versus foster care abuse that when foster care abuse is reported they always have an excuse and will continually harp about how foster care abuse is so rare. Yet when it is a biological parent, they use it to "educate" the public to the so-called prevalence of abuse, and widely publicize child abuse phone numbers and websites.

    I have also seen absolutely irrefutable evidence of the media describing an abusive foster worker as a "mother" so that the public is led to believe the abuse was inflicted by a biological parent. How often this occurs is impossible to say. Parents and families are under attack like never before in history, but CPS wants you to believe that they are suffering under enormous case loads, short-staffed, underfunded, hampered by legislation, and just in general fighting a David and Goliath battle against child abuse, where they are the poor victims of bad publicity and monstrously parents who are getting away with murder.

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  18. Anon Long WeekendJune 14, 2010 at 5:16 PM

    "Loyalty to one's parents is called family bond. This is a natural human behavior that perhaps only "child protection" SW would try to change."

    So you are saying if a child is being severely (note the use of the word "severe") they should be left in their home?

    You folks are missing the point - there are at least two sides to every story. Too many posters on this web page see just one.

    "Our Criminal Code, a due process based on good evidence, has already provided sufficient protection."

    Based on?

    A good comparison would be to study Quebec's child protection - all child abuse reports must go to Quebec Police. I have not studied how effective/efficient/appropriate etc this pathway/organization has addressed child abuse. Anyone?

    ReplyDelete

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