Tuesday, July 13, 2010

PERFORMANCE MEASURES / Part 248 / For Love and For Justice / Zabeth and Paul Bayne/

At its website page entitled PERFORMANCE MEASURES, MCFD has placed a couple of paragraphs informing us of the performance measures in place within the ministry. I admit that my difficulty is to suppress my cynical filter sufficiently to read these words without a bias for children safely nurtured within the homes of biological parents. So, even as my mind processes this MCFD webpage I view its content as a protection, preservation and promotional piece.
“Performance Measures”
“The Ministry of Children and Family Development is accountable to our clients and the public. We continually monitor our performance to track our progress and use the information to improve outcomes for the children, youth and families we serve and our programs and services. Improved performance and enhanced quality assurance are at the centre of our commitment to ensure children and families are strong, safe and supported to reach their full potential.”
“This report documents, in one place, seventeen measures that the Ministry of Children and Family Development has committed to report publicly. This is a first step in implementing a commitment made by the Ministry in the 2010/11 – 2012/13 Service Plan. We will add additional performance measures each year that will monitor our progress and help us along the path of continual improvement.”
Public Reporting of Performance Measures – March 2010
This public reporting contains much that may be of interest to you. Here are a couple observations.
  1. Of all the calls received by the Ministry each year regarding protection concerns, approximately 30,000 will lead to a protection report. Information about protection reports is available on the ministry’s website.
  2. The percentage of children in ministry care under a Continuing Care Order that are expected to remain in Foster Care until age 19 rather than being adopted or living with relatives is 34.9 %.
  3. The percentage of children who “aged-out” from Ministry care, (turned nineteen years of age), that applied for income assistance within six months is 44.1%.
  4. The percentage of children in the long term care of the Ministry who are in the expected school grade for their age is 78.9%.
  5. The percentage of children under a continuing custody order during their grade eight year who go on to complete the requirements for high school graduation within six years is an appalling 28.2% in 2009.
  6. In 2009, of the 8908 children in care, seven children or youth died.
We are still waiting for August 8-13, 2010 when the hearing under Judge Crabtree resumes in Chilliwack Court House, for final presentations by MCFD and by Paul and Zabeth Bayne's counsel, Mr. Doug Christie. The Baynes are naturally contesting a Continuing Care Order application by MCFD. The outcome we hope for is the return of three children to Paul and Zabeth after this almost three year separation.


  1. I have had 'help' from MCFD for quite awhile. I find it interesting that they do make mistakes yet have no avenue for complaints. If you eat a meal at a restaurant and do not like it, you can send it back. MCFD is very confused as to whether they are a touchy feely service 'provider' or a police force with their own lawyers. They are allowed to be police officer, lawyer, judge and service provider and doctor too. If you get their brochure about laying a complaint you will find that there are about 30 exemptions of circumstances where no complaint is legally allowed to be laid.

  2. Hey Ron,

    Read the fine print re: #4 - The percentage of children in the long term care of the Ministry who are in the expected school grade for their age is 78.9%.

    This actually counts kids +/- w/in 5 years of their actual age....which means a kid who is 16 is considered in its expected school grade even if they are with 11 year olds!

    Numbers can get skewed for better or for worse in any area, I guess is the point. This one is just plain silly though.

  3. I can tell you first hand why children simply do not thrive in foster care, and it is because for the most part, foster parents do not have the same level of attachment and connection to children from birth that biological parents - they don't care, and they get paid for the 'troubles' not to care. Generally speaking. (Obviously some foster parents truly do care and put their hearts into it, I just have not yet come across one in the past 10 years.)

    Kids are separated from their community and church, and such activities that would otherwise go far to maintain their self esteem are instead subordinate to the whims of the foster parent's schedule and their own primary associations with their own friends and family.

    My kids were conscious they were to stay 'separate'. Eating separately. Eating cheap foods while the foster parents ate better. All this deprecates a child's self worth and their hope for the future.

    If to a child, their future, and hope for that future is not clear, then school becomes 'what's the point'. Foster parents do not, and cannot make long term goals for the children that might be removed from them on a moment's notice.

    My kids grades dropped from A's to low C's in just the space of one year. Their work ethic to be motivated to finish projects and homework at home evaporated. They were left to play video games and watch TV.

    When the kids are in my home, there was simply no time to watch much TV as the kids are busy with reading, outside activities, and interactions with friends that are far more interesting that TV.

    In two short months after return, the kids grades started climbing back up. Each up a grade point in several subjects. One jumped from C to A in Math, a big surprise.

    I was forbidden to encourge my own children to read daily and make reports for me at visitation times, as I was concerned with their change in attitude towards school.

    The foster parent and social worker said to the kids it was more important to "let kids be kids" and playtime was more important. My efforts were turned into a visitation restriction no to ask about school or review school planners.

    They alluded to the children that I did not want them to have fun, and it was a form of punishment. Shades of Pinnochio's Pleasure Island! It appeared the Ministry wished to turn my children into mindless donkeys! For the BSW-degree'd social worker Schooltime was the only place education activities belonged.

    I helped one child with homework by text messages on a cell phone. The ministry took away the cell phone.

    I gave the kids ipods and gave them pictures, games (including educational), the foster parents and social workers put in psychological reports I was buying expensive toys for the kids in order to undermine the Ministry, and to secretly communicate with my children over the internet.

    The notebooks the children brought back from school each day that were supposed to be signed by the foster people, but were never signed. Even when the kids didn't do homework and identified the lack of communication between foster parents and teachers exists, there was still no improvement.

    Teachers targeted the children as worth less than other students because they were in care, and therefore there must be something wrong with them. The slightest problem, the school would be phoning the social worker complaining. the social worker would happily report 'troubled kids' and allude it all had to do with the parents undermining ministry efforts.

    The reason for this should be made clear. Children are witnesss against the parents.

    Most parents natually have a powerful hold on their children due to bonds and attachments. And, assuming parents have truly abused their children, given the choice, I suspect a lot of kids would still choose to return home and 'forget' the abuse.

    The Ministry has a vested interest in preserving the original intensity of the reason for removal.

  4. Ron; I was going to carry on writing about assessment, but I might risk boring some of your readers if I do. So today I thought I would write about something that is of more immediate interest to most of your bloggers. The ministries risk assessment device in general and how it was applied to the Baynes in particular.
    First of all, I call it a device because it is simply a process with no reliable outcome.
    What the ministry has always failed to grasp is that the most important tool it can use is the social workers themselves. If the tool is chipped, rusty, blunt, or has a broken handle it will not do a good job. The ministry has a long history of trying to compensate for having inexperienced and badly trained staff by devising forms to fill in. Checklists are the bureaucrats' delight. If all else fails, devise a new form. Checklists can have a use. For instance when making a list of basic clothing for foster home placement, or for going to summer camp, or for making sure all the necessary paperwork for court is complete. Although the ministry "risk assessment" form was introduced several years ago with great fanfare, because it was the latest great thing to come out of New York, it is still just another checklist and only as good as the staff that use it. All it meant to me was that the child welfare authorities in New York are just as dumb as anywhere else in the world. If anyone thinks that filling in checklists is good social work, then he probably thinks that painting by numbers is great art. (Maybe that is how the Systine Chapel was painted?)
    Why is the ministry risk assessment such a flawed device? To start with the very title shows bias. An assessment is an assessment and should be balanced information on strengths and weaknesses. A risk assessment already biases staff only to seek the negative. They may feel the must find some fault somewhere and then they can be blind to positives. Secondly the risk assessment is a very subjective document and requires staff to state some sort of opinion. The fact that it is organised into headings and sub-headings and that a rating scale is required, simply means that the subjective view is more organised in an objective way. This does not make the opnions any more objective. Bear in mind that a worker is required to state an opinon with no rigour required about demonstrating any facts-hard facts to support that opinion. What is the glaring flaw here? It is quite obvious that if this opinion is given by someone who is in an adversarial position to the parents there can be little validity in it. If that person is in a hostile position, it is even worse. If an assessment or a "risk assessment" is to have even a whiff of validity, it must be done before there is an adversarial position. If it is done after an apprehension and court presentation, then it has no vailidity whatsoever.If a CCO is sought,it is plain stupid to let the executioner be the write the assessment. The risk assessment simply becomes the axe to be wielded by the headsman. I will continue by showing how all this applied in the Bayne case.

  5. A Comment was sent in Chinese this morning. I earlier indicated that I can only publish English comments due to the difficulty of confirming the content.

  6. I'm curious as to why MCFD would need to do three assessments.

    The first and second was done without my input, before and after the removal. The second I have not yet seen. The third done after MCFD lost the trial and returned the children.

    I understand there are internal guidelines to help social workers fill this out. Where might I get ahold of such documentation?

  7. Seems like pablum for the public.

    I divide out the 30,000 protection reports by the number of social workers (about 1300) and get 23 per worker.

    I personally like to see my data sliced and diced so that it has more meaning.

    How many reports come from schools, daycare, hospitals and doctors? How many from individuals?

    There are people who leave care when they turn 19 and children who are returned, what is the average, high and low amount of time in care. How many require mental health assistance? How many kids apply for welfare from non-MCFD families? How many were diagnosed as fetal alcohol children? It appears the stock of children is continually replenished so the total number of children in care stays the same.

    Child who died but were not in care at the time is an interesting figure. Again more context is needed, such as how they died, by abuse? Accident?

    Deaths in care, did they result in lawsuits? I believe in the 2008 year the Minstry claims they spent one million dollars in legal costs associated with such lawsuits with a payout that was very low, I think 6,000 to 7,000.

    How many children go into care voluntarily?

    Education outcomes should measure grades of children before they entered care, and after -- increase or decline?

    Daycare and subsidies are interesting also. MCFD can tell the income of parent on the latter, and number of children that attend daycare. Obviously several of these children would be in care of the Ministry, how about those numbers?

    Number of foster homes that send children in care to daycare? ie. those who have full time jobs and can't care for kids during the day, and also get their daycare paid for.

    The high percentage of kids leaving care who immeditely apply for income assistance is interesting too. Are any of these kids sent to college or University so they can eventually become contributing taxpayers?

    How may kids exiting care become foster parents?

    There are no financially related metrics. What financial cost is involved for various outcomes?

    What are the numbers of removed children returned to care and how long was their stint in care? How about the total costs for this 'rehabilitation.'

    The relatively consistent numbers over multiple years beg the question, why is there so little fluctuation?

    The number of families with children 'in need of protection' how many children total are we talking, what is the economic breakdown of the families, of this number how many were removed, how many had supervision orders first, how many escalated to CCO? etc. etc. etc.

    How about reports by region to identify hot spots of high or low removals?

    The public needs to be taught how to ask questions in order to better reveal whether or not children in care are truly benefitting from services.

    Those TV commercials "for a dollar a day, you can sponsor a child and that will feed, clothe and educate a young child in Africa" -- what is the equivalent cost for the same underprivileged child in BC to be cared for?

  8. It is just heartbreaking to see what this so-called Ministry of Children and Family "Development" does to children and families.

  9. Quite accurate: "I can tell you first hand why children simply do not thrive in foster care, and it is because for the most part, foster parents do not have the same level of attachment and connection to children from birth that biological parents."

    Not fair to say they "don't care" and to say they are just in it for a pay cheque though. Some probably/surely....but not all. That's not a fair comment.


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