Friday, June 25, 2010

The Quality of Questioning Everything / Part 231 / For Love and For Justice / Zabeth and Paul Bayne/

Each time a major independent review has been done on a government ministry and the Ministry of Children in particular, the report has come as unwelcome news to the Premier, the Minister, other elected officers, Directors and Supervisors, and as a disappointing revelation to the public, but with respect to MCFD no surprise at all to affected parents and some children and some conscientious social workers.

Internal performance reviews and self assessments have simply overlooked or ignored issues that matter in policy practice and service delivery. So, the kind of reporting that occurs with a formal review is precisely what is needed in order to root out inconsistencies, biases, contradictions, and falsities prepackaged and presented to the public on a regular basis. It is sad to see concerns about such an important ministry as that pertaining to children and families, played out only on a small stage such as an inside page of a few newspapers, or a blog like this. Why not in the national media? Certainly the provincial media and with regularity.

It should not be viewed as insulting but rather reasonable, for high ranking officials and directors, who are public servants, to be consistently faced with direct and probing questions in order to identify truth and to prevent “spin.” When the media deals softly and sporadically with the factors that are tearing apart the lives of families as we noticing in this blog's comment section, it suggests a wrong impression that the factors are unimportant or bear upon matters about which we should not speak publicly. They aren't truly newsworthy. Wrong! We are the people. We have every right and responsibility to question everything. Those who work on behalf of the people have a responsibility to provide answers that satisfy the people or to affect the changes that eventually do satisfy the people.
If the Government of B.C. wants us all to become supporters of the Ministry of Children and Family Development in our society, our province, our communities, then we all need to question everything, because True Supporters Question Everything. An MCFD that is truly working for the people, needs to know that the staunchest allies inside and outside its agency will be those who question everything and who know that their questions are received and processed with sincerity.


  1. To: Ron (June 24, 2010 8:33 AM)

    You are wrong if you think that Mr. Ferris and I are on the same side. From what I see so far, the only common view we have is corruption. Nothing more. I find it informative to hear what SW, especially turncoat SW, say about their activities. That's why I welcome their inputs.

    Strong statements and radical remarks will turn people away. It is a natural human response that critics of "child protection" often fail to respect and suffer the opposite effect of pushing people to believe the other side. It does not necessarily mean that these statements are not true.

    Of course, there are good and principled people in government and in MCFD. This is an issue that damage control often explores and uses to induce division of opinion. Sharp criticism does not necessarily refute the presence of some good service providers. However, I am of the opinion that their presence is insufficient to stop the structural corruption in the "child protection" industry.

    I respect your views and your desire to be objective. I am not trying to convince you.
    But I would like to better understand your standpoint. With due respect, what will it take for an intelligent man like you to believe that this whole problem is created by the quest of money, power and fame under the pretext of "child protection"?

  2. Ray:

    Thank you for continuing your story. So what's the point? Who is the first class of prime evil causing the problem? How should we deal with them?

  3. Anon 8:33 AM, your last question caught my attention because as I briefly reflected upon it, I didn't have an immediate answer. What would it take to convince me that the whole problem with MCFD is created by “the quest of money, power and fame” under the pretext of "child protection"? I do believe however, that you are trying to convince me even though you say you are not. Otherwise why write, or why ask me the question. If you are correct, then if I were you, I would want to try to correct other people's limited understanding. So, I have no issue with that. My answer begins with this. I need evidence. Simply looking at your fundamental cause as a statement doesn't convince me. I need proof that the ruptured families, the discourtesies, the insults, etc., are all generated by money, power and fame. I can accept that these three are contributing factors but not primary. And I don't know how you will ever provide evidence for that. You won't uncover a document or manifesto that states “Our primary objectives within the Child Protection Network of Agencies is to achieve money, power and fame.” I suppose that what might convince me is communicating with more social workers who have either defected or become critics of MCFD to learn where they place this triad of motives in their criticism. I will begin by asking Ray Ferris since you say that you and he at least agree on 'corruption,' whatever you meant by that. This is something perhaps I can get back to you about when and if I learn more by questioning sources.

  4. Money may not be the initial motivation for removing children from families, but it certainly is incentive to take self-protective actions when a client lodges a complaint against them.
    A desire to keep their job and avoid liability lawsuits compels workers within the MCFD to be secretive, conniving and manipulative when they have made serious errors in judgement. They hide behind the bureaucratic "complaints resolution" process and use the court system to beat clients into submission.
    At the end of it, the SW keeps their job and are not held to account for the damage they do to the family they've traumatised.
    MCFD must have greater accountability to its client families and clients must be provided with an avenue to ensure disciplinary actions are taken against incompetant social workers.
    If they must 'put your money where your mouth is' perhaps they will make decisions to benefit their clients instead of themselves.
    Just saying.

  5. Yesterday I started to examine how the G family case and the Bayne case show that many people aid and abet directors who abuse authority. I started with looking at lawyers and judges.The act may have many fine sounding principles, but without a means of enforcement, it becomes irrelevant.The act itself becomes part of the problem, but that is a topic for another day.
    Suffice it to say that the court system is seriously broken and does nothing to protect children like the Bayne children from damaging limbo. No judge in the Bayne case took a grip on things and insured timely resolution. It was not until halfway through the hearing that Judge Crabtree started to control things a bit more. I can understand his concern about possible appeal, but should this be the determinant? The culture of the law and the courts is developed in criminal cases and these drag on as long as there is money to be made. This culture does not serve the best interests of children. Indeed the director has lots of help in abusing his authority-some by omission and some by commission.
    In answer to one questioner. Yes, I do have ideas about how the system could be made quicker and cheaper. The public defender system has been quite a successful model in many courts. Just as the ministry contracts counsel to represent the director in protection cases, counsel could be contracted to represent parents. The two counsels would both have expertise in protection matters and could negotiate many cases. I suggest that Ms. Turpel-Lafonde should be given a budget to provide such counsel,in order to avoid a conflict of interest. Of course there would be reduction in revenue for other lawyers and they might complain.
    Was someone referring to me as "a turncoat social worker"? I believe in the rule of law, practising within a code of ethics, in being open and honest and kind to clients, without tolerating child abuse and neglect. If this makes me a turncoat, so be it.
    Fellow bloggers, please share your observations of defense lawyers and judges. Tomorrow I want to look at the external and internal review systems and why they are largely ineffective in protection cases.

  6. To: Ron (June 25, 2010 6:40 AM)

    Convincing you does not make or break me. Since you rejected mine, I asked because I want to see whether you have a better, more plausible answer. I also want to understand why something so obvious is considered unbelievable by someone who witnessed this corruption second hand for at least 5 months.

    I do appreciate your effort in seeking truth, your enthusiasm to fight injustice and above all your persistence. You asked before why this problem remains unsolved given that this is not a new discovery. Your belief and attitude and the apathy of most Canadians explain it. Be mindful that about 50% of British Columbians do not have children. To them, this problem, if it exists, is of no concern to them. Of course, this problem is well covered up by the effort of special interests you see here.

    The evidence you demand are equivalent to those who demand a tangible and scientific proof of the existence of God before they will believe. I am sure you have come across those.

    "For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse." (Romans 1:20)

    The Baynes and many other parents who wrote on your blog speak to the effect that there is corruption, abuse of authority, abuse of process, destruction of families, ... etc. Their fate is the result of a corruption driven by quest of money, power and fame. Perhaps you have a better answer.

  7. One needs to ask very simple and precise questions in succession in order to get some sort of picture as to what is going on first.

    The problem might possibly be that people are not bothering, or are not submitting their questions in the right manner. The only way I would know how is to submit a freedom of information request.

    I for one, would like to know for all parents that have had their children removed and subsequently returned, what is the total costs involved (Legal, Health, Services, foster care, social worker hours, supervision), the length of time the child is in care.

    The next question one might ask next, if there is a declaration that MCFD "services" are exclusivey responsible for the return of children to parents, how this correlates to costs expended in other areas due to the length of time children are kept in care. The next question would be why weren't services offerred first without removing children.

    Through this process one can continue to drill down and discover motive. Is, as one commenter is saying, the primary purpose of removals financially based? Anything connected to numbers rather than abstract concepts is considerably easier to collect data on and report.

    I know one parent who has file a freedom of information request for costs on their case, and the FOI response was they would get back within 30 days, and there might possibly be a cost associated with retrieving the information.


    I find it most interesting MCFD breaks down statistics by aboriginals, and the 'other' category, all other races are lumped together. How about breaking this down by family income or other categories? Perhaps, even, such reports already exist but maybe they are difficult to find.

    Another good question might be, with respect to the Judicial process, is why parents do not get sufficient notice and time to look at their own disclosures before entering a court room?

    This again is an example that such information is collectable that can be supplied to the public.

    It is my thought that small bits of relevant information supplied to larger groups (or media) will trigger a larger scale examination of the Minstry.

    If one family such as the Baynes experiences this level of treatment, you can rest assured all other families are treated the same or worse.

    Conversely, if another family gets treated wonderfully, then this has to be made known so we can then ask why the Baynes are not being similarly treated.

  8. I don't really like putting in my oar twice in one day, but I feel I must comment on some of today's input. It is getting far too polemic and speculative. Point A. The MCF does not keep the kind of research informaion that could be easily retrieved. One would have to employ someone to do a case-by-case study. The sort of information suggested could be asked by members of the assembly at question time, but they would not get answers.
    Point B. There is no conspiracy in the ministry, driven by money and power. There is a much simpler answer. As I have said many times, good child protection demands that there is a clear concept in the organisation about the knowledge and skills needed for this demanding occupation. There have to be clear concepts about how to train and mentor such skills. The management of the ministry is far too incompetent to follow this path and as a result we find a lot of ill-trained people running around making a mess of things. It is not their fault and half the time they are under great stress, because they do not have the confidence that good skills bring with them. Why should the brightest and best stay in such a working milieu? The culture of secrecy in the ministry has become a necessary survival strategy. You get a peek behind the curtain in testmony in cases like the Bayne case.
    In the last 50 years I have seen plenty of dumb decisions made by people in the system and just as many were made by people with their masters degrees. I have never found that people with good scholarship were necessarily good at focus, analysis and decision making. No indeed. There ain't no conspiracy. Just good old fashioned muddling along and then trying to keep the lid on.

  9. Nothing is stronger than the truth, knowledge, personal experience. This is From Amiablyme – Knowledge Is Power
    "Unfortunately, for many people who haven't learned first hand it is hard to conceive that the very agency entrusted with protecting children would ever turn into the abuser. When my children were taken a long time acquaintance of my father stated "They must have found 'something'. CPS don't take kids away for no reason.". Until they've experienced it themselves, many people don't understand 'the whim complex'." -Rev. Dr. William W. Joslin

    Mr. Ferris, RE share your observations of defense lawyers and judges.
    In my case, eight different judges participated at nine hearings at the FC. Our 1st lawyer offered social workers to function as a buffer between us and them. 1st judge adjourned the case for 2 weeks, because our lawyer was not present. She scolded me for wasting the court time with my attempt to prove that the accusations are utterly false. Our 2nd lawyer has a good heart, thus nobody takes him seriously. His points of argumentation were either with some absurdity dismissed, or completely ignored. None of eight judges found necessary to ask my always present son at least one question. One ordered the Family Conference, but her order was later without any explanation ignored by both the Ministry and the Court itself. SW told to the eight and last judge that, if my child will be returned home, the Ministry will have no choice but apprehend my daughter. Our Family Doctor spent two afternoons at FC ready to testify about our parental knowledge, skills, experience, never called. In the middle of FC hearings, SWs already proceeded, in cooperation with police and crown, with a plan to prosecute me because they "reasonably, in all the circumstances, fear for their safety or the safety of anyone known to them". My complaints and reports of public servants' crimes became exhibits of my repeated crime Criminal harassment. From Criminal Court, Judge B: "I am not deciding whether or not the actions of the Ministry through its agents were appropriate or inappropriate". Judge W: [public officers] "prepared a number of reports which are required", and "were doing the best they could do". Her Ladyship Chief Judge of the BC Provincial Courts Baird Ellan: "I acknowledge receipt of your emails of September 4, 2002. I am unable to assist you with your concerns."

    And the cost of lying because nothing about us was fit to fill the CF&CSA law S.13 WHEN PROTECTION IS NEEDED? I lost everything worth living for. Who cares, I know, but taxpayers lost millions in financing frauds in this one case.

  10. Nice post, Ron! Cheers. Accountability is so very critical.

  11. Conspiracy is not the correct term to use to describe child protection social workers. Calling workers universally dumb or unorganized is equally unbelievable.

    In my experience, child protection is more akin to a brand-name business franchise that follows a clear forumula for success. That success I define is removal of tens of thousands of children from their parents without suffering a significant lawsuit.

    Starbucks, Tim Hortons, McDonalds -- all these successful businesses operate by a formula. They have a definable and easily publicly recognizable culture. These organizations do not need highly paid individuals to run any portion of the business. The employees are interchangeable and disposable.

    I don't find social worker and manager salaries excessively low or high either, so financial incentive is not there. At Provincial levels, federal transfer payments for aboriginal children is a tangible incentive.

    Looking at that online public servants database, the Community Service Manager's salary ranges from a very reasonable and average sounding $75,000 to $85,000. One must assume the rank and file gets something between $40,000 and $65,000, which is likely on par with the salaries of teachers. Not much in the way of financial motive there, so it must be a certain personality type is drawn to child protection work.

    One has to admire any such entity that needs only about 1300 social workers to manage the expenditure of a 1.4 billion budget - about one million dollars per worker. Keep in mind legal and health care expenses are additional, and outside this budget.

    The veil of secrecy is but one part of the forumula that makes Child Protection a successful business and part of their culture. Children and families are like raw coffee beans, products to be squeezed, ground up, percolated and used as fertilizer for the next batch of coffee plants.

    The people I have met, social workers, service providers, I do not find these people in the least bit dumb, incompetent, misdirected or unfocused. Secretive, yes. Arrogant, yes. Knowing they are unnaccountable, yes. On a power trip, yes. I find decisions of social workers entirely consistent, logical and predictable.


    With respect to asking questions and generating reports that answer these questions, the type of information is readily available, as all the necessary data is entered into computerized intake reports. As such, this data may be extracted, aggregated and assembed in any manner the report designer wishes.

    One example of reports that already exist is the length of time reports are held open before being closed. If these reports are further sliced and diced by region and by office, one can quickly pinpoint compliant and non-compliant offices and individual employees through monthly generated reports. Public reports are published only in a very high level format to convince people "most" of the time, work is compliant

    If, as Ray says, some judges abide by the 45-day limit for a protection hearing, it is relatively easy to identify those cases, because each court date is again entered into an MCFD computer database. Courts, that are also public entities can also be queried for such information. A single court file number marks each stage of progress with time spent in minutes and what dates, names of lawyers, clients and judges.

    MCFD issues all child benefit cheques to parents in BC, and cancels such benefits when children are removed. Household income and number of children in every family in the Province is known this way, and I rather suspect can be easily looked up by any social workers. A name and birthday is all that is needed. Children of poor families can easily be listed by MCFD are targeted as those least financially able to put up a fight.

    This is all reportable information, all one needs to do is ask for it, and wait.

  12. Ray Ferris said:

    "There is no conspiracy in the ministry, driven by money and power..... The management of the ministry is far too incompetent to follow this path and as a result we find a lot of ill-trained people running around making a mess of things. It is not their fault and half the time they are under great stress, because they do not have the confidence that good skills bring with them."


    Sorry, Ray, but you just lost a ton of credibility in my books. There is no way this is just a matter of incompetence. Incompetence suggests that the social workers (never mind those in charge) are marked by lack of ability, skill, etc. While it is undoubtedly true that incompetence exists, the stories we keep reading indicate that the behaviour of those who are causing such damage to children and families is downright cruel. You will see this behaviour where ever there are child protection agencies - bullying, disregard for familial bonds, blatant disregard for the law, and just a general mean spiritness. To call this "incompetence" is very misleading, as it suggests that this is all just a mistake. It takes away, largely, the mens rea element. Too convenient.

  13. And those who claim that there is no real money in the child protection industry haven't seen what "expert witnesses" are charging, nor have they seen the money that adoption agencies are making.

  14. "The government of Guatemala recently enacted a series of new laws intended to curb corruption within the country's $100 million adoption industry. Guatemala is one of the world's top "sender" countries for children adopted by US families, second only to China. Babies are big business there."

    One hundred million dollars. And that's in one relatively small country.


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