THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN COMPLIANCE AND ASSESSMENT
A child unwell. Many medical opinions sought. Indecisive. One doctor. A diagnosis. A liability implied and assumed. Alleged abuse. A necessary call to MCFD and RCMP. A nightmare begun. An apprehension of three children. Investigation. Insufficient evidence RCMP conclude. A parental explanation rejected. MCFD suspicion continues. Risk assessment. Compliance refused. MCFD case closed. The Bayne Saga. The Bayne Campaign for Justice.
Assessment is a core methodology in child protection. Assessment is fundamental to the child protection model practiced in British Columbia. Assessment is at the heart of intake and investigation processes. The dominance of assessment within the MCFD child protection model is very significant because the way in which it is implemented places the compliance of parents at centre stage, eg. my Bayne illustration above. Child protection agencies need to identify which families require investigation and how quickly and then determine whether children are at risk. Risk assessment is a means to prioritize which cases will receive attention. Assessment defines which issues should be addressed with the parents in order to determine whether the level of risk is acceptable or not. Assessment provides the defense for workers' actions.
A key function of assessment is the evaluation of parents' willingness to cooperate with professionals. Therefore protection social workers form judgements about risk by requiring parents/families to submit to several processes such as interviews, observations, assessment by specialists and participating in specific programs. The theory is that compliance or non compliance will enable the worker to form a judgment about the level of risk that is posed to a child. Children who are considered at risk can only remain in the home of parents who are suspected of abusing the children, if the parents are willing to accept intervention, surveillance and help. This is never explicitly stated but both MCFD and parents know this.
Compliance is central to the development of that risk assessment. In fact, whether child protection is sought and when it is introduced into the life of a child and the duration of it will rest upon compliance. MCFD is preoccupied with the administration and management of compliance. Compliance is integral to MCFD's assessment process. It can rightly be labelled 'assessment compliance'. At a minimum the MCFD desires a compliance from parents that is an admission of at least partial responsibility for the issue(s) that prompted the child protection alert. In all of the meetings between the Baynes and MCFD personnel during the first two years, the recurring agenda was MCFD's pressure for Baynes to admit abuse of their child. Discussions never moved past that. Assessment is strongly influenced by the cooperativeness of parents. Because the Baynes insisted upon their innocence they were deemed uncooperative and therefore always a risk to their child – oh no, to their children, all three. That's how compliance and assessment relate in the MCFD. You didn't comply. You are guilty.