Tuesday, November 30, 2010

MCFD abandoned the Hughes' Recommendations/ Part 384 / For Love and For Justice / Zabeth and Paul Bayne

Our BC government endorsed all of the Hughes Review recommendations. Then on Nov. 27, 2006, the Legislature appointed the first Representative for Children and Youth. Monday's report is the third report that has come from the Representative's office since Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond was appointed the Representative for Children and Youth. Her charge with this report was to examine whether the government has actually been improving the system by addressing the issues raised in the Hughes Review?

Oh brother! It's what many of you have been saying for a very long time. Many of you are the ones who speak from experience. Ms. Turpel-Lafond writes and speaks from investigative research and a listening ear to you and others.

So from page three of her report she indicates that the purpose of these reports is:
• to determine what has been accomplished in repairing the system
• to compare what the Hughes Review recommended, with the reality of what has been achieved
• to look at “what is and what can be.”

In this thorough 60 page report Ms. Turpel-Lafond describes her monitoring of the progress on Hughes recommendations “looking closely to see if actual change is taking place – change that responds to the key areas identified in the Hughes Review. In other words, is government actually improving the system by addressing the issues raised in the Hughes Review?

The Representative's report points out that Mr. Hughes himself described his review as a blueprint,“to allow for full repair of a system that has in recent times been battered on stormy seas.” It is obvious that the seas have not subsided. Back in 2006 when Hughes delivered his 62 recommendations for change, both government and opposition enthusiastically endorsed the Review viewing it for what it is, as the Representative describes it, “an incisive, accurate and thoughtful look at the challenges facing B.C.’s child welfare system, with the identification of practical, clear means to improve it.”

This next observation should speak volumes to every reader, and it should to the entire Legislature. The Representative said this third report will be the last one that she delivers with respect to measuring the progress of MCFD to comply with Hughes' recommendations because there is a very obvious movement away from those recommendations. Therefore the Representative will have to conduct future reviews based on criteria of her own selection, and that may mean paying close attention to what and how MCFD acts with the many parents who have strong allegations against the MCFD and how parents, families and children are handled.

In her own words, “A new way of assessing progress is necessary because MCFD has now moved on to using other frameworks for change. To address this reality, a new approach to measuring progress is required in order to provide the public with an independent assessment of whether B.C.’s children and youth are better served today than when Mr. Hughes tabled his report.”

Monday, November 29, 2010

MCFD JUST GOT SLAMMED/ Part 383 / For Love and For Justice / Zabeth and Paul Bayne

Here is today's Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond's 60 page report.
 GRAND SLAM, SLAM DUNK, call it what you will, the head honchos of the Ministry of Children and Family Development had it done to them. The Directors, team leaders and social workers in the various regions have earned this failing grade but the top bureaucrats own the responsibility for it. Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond delivered it on Monday in Victoria. She is the Representative for Children and Youth. While she has given scathing reports in the past today was the most recent and perhaps the most stinging assessment of the province's child welfare system.

I have written blog posts for the next couple of days but these must be shelved for the moment to focus on Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond's report. I cannot even wait until tomorrow. You need to engage with this now. If you didn't hear her speak during news hours today, then you will want to read this. If you are one of those who feel she is just a headline grabber, then I disagree with you. I see her as our best ally. She is seeing what we have been seeing and expressing. She has the weight of office to say it in a manner that will be heard. If she gets increasing news coverage we had better be thankful because it means that the public is going to be informed and concerned and demanding of answers. She was hired to be a watchdog and she has been growling in the past and today we heard that she has a big bark as well.

Listen to her as CBC recounts her report. http://www.cbc.ca/canada/british-columbia/story/2010/11/29/bc-childrens-watchdog-report.html?ref=rss

She says that the Liberal “government has only fully implemented less than half the recommendations in the 2006 landmark report on the child welfare system by retired judge Ted Hughes.” She is “deeply disappointed with the government's progress and is particularly critical of what she sees as a lack of accountability and oversight in the child welfare system.” She said that “the changes made in public reporting have met neither the letter nor intent of the Hughes report and the information posted publicly now is less useful than in the past.” She described the government's action “as vague promises that make high-level references to the Hughes review yet offer no detailed information, and at other times outright government dismissal." She feels that the “Ministry of Children and Family Development has failed to meet the targets in its service plans, and that means troubles ahead. Difficult economics times can mean harsher realities for many of B.C.'s families.... Poverty will deepen for some, unemployment rates will climb, and previously successful families may struggle. Social services may be required more often, and community supports may disappear. Stagnant or decreasing budgets will not be able to address the need of additional children and families," she said.”

American Family Rights is the Voice of America's Families and its slogan is 'Until Every Child Comes Home.' It published this CBC story in a hurry today. Believe me, this is news around the world where similar issues exist. http://afrafrontpagenews.blogspot.com/2010/11/bc-childrens-watchdog-slams-government.html


Turpell-Lafond slams MCFD

THE EARLY INTERVENTION CONCENTRATION / Part 382 / For Love and For Justice / Zabeth and Paul Bayne

Do you see what is going on here?

Victoria, you have to pay attention here! THE CITIZENRY DO NOT WANT THIS.
Header from Autism Association of Western Australia
It is discreetly profiled in MCFD literature. The Ministry of Children in B.C. is practicing a policy of early intervention as well as the often criticized reactive services to serious problems, albeit under the umbrella of the Child and Family Community Services Act. Yes I understand that the term 'early intervention' applies to a diverse range of assistance situations, many of which I would certainly affirm. A true early intervention program provides services. Early Intervention is appealing. It clearly decreases the harm and suffering that can be experienced by children. To address concerns early proves to be very helpful in assisting a child's development and less complicated than arresting developmental concerns for older children later. Costs can also be reduced when good responses are made early rather than when troubled children become disturbed youth and adults. However, I speak of the emphasis with respect to child protection cases in which Early Intervention is also being practiced, and this is where I have problems. Not early involvement of services but early involvement of government and professionals in your family life creates some significant and perhaps enduring issues.

This emergent child welfare theme that promotes prevention and early intervention services appears attractively altruistic but it is creating an ethical dilemma. Even conscientious social workers find this emphasis a challenge if they are thoughtful. How are they to balance respect for service users with concern for social justice. You see the great issue is that an early intervention emphasis is effectively shifting the balance of power away from families towards the BC government and toward professionals making the decisions about the lives of children. That's right, and that is what a great many of you commentators have been telling me long before I thought about it. Those of you who feel that you have been shafted by this MCFD have caught on much sooner than some of the rest of us. Who decides what is in your child’s best interests? Many of you will attest that the government is making the decision, that is, someone employed by the government. Someone who goes home at night and can ignore until tomorrow, or next month, or next year, that a specific child is not at home while this process grinds.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

WORLDWIDE CONCERN/ Part 381 / For Love and For Justice / Zabeth and Paul Bayne

If you were in any doubt about the clamouring international interest there is in the concerns about families and children and parental rights and freedoms involved with child welfare and child protection and removal and deaths while in care, Google any of the above but let me also tell you who it is who is reading this GPS blog. Even recently, people log on from Darmstadt, Hessen, Germany; Reading, United Kingdom; Lincoln, New Hampshire, United States; Ottawa, Ontario, Canada; Huntsville, Missouri, United States; Oaxaca, Mexico; Brisbane, Queensland, Australia; Edison, New Jersey, United States; Forest Hills, New York, United States; Twickenham, Richmond Upon Thames, United Kingdom; Algiers, Alger, Algeria; Bonaventure, Quebec, Canada; Indonesia; Sherwood Park, Alberta, Canada; Strasbourg, Alsace, France; Mumbai, Maharashtra, India; Sidney, British Columbia; Puerto La Cruz, Vargas, Venezuela; and of course in cities and towns across Canada and throughout British Columbia. Over 143,000 hits have registered and this is not a busy blog. It is however, an intelligible, rational approach and it acquires readers who want to be informed and who appreciate an opportunity to respond with a supportive, informative or corrective viewpoint.

People want to understand how a ministry intended at the start for such selfless and humane purposes can become so wrong-headed no matter where in the world it is practiced.

There is no question in my mind that those who are commissioned and employed to protect a district's children when parents or guardians are failing, are faced with distressing situations that can make them sick and angry. I would respond similarly. There are parents and step parents and grandparents and live-in partners who are prisoners of addictions or behavioural issues that lead them to be negligent custodians of children. And there are parents and others who are cruel and malicious by nature and intent. All of these people forfeit temporarily or forever any right to have children in their care. It is the way it should be. Do you think I have stated this too strongly? These children need a chance to live and to be all for which they have potential. Yet, terrible things happen to children in care too. What must virtuous social workers think and do in such situations? If a child protection agency will remove children for their safety, their alternate living condition must be close to a guaranteed perfect life situation. Such guarantees are not universally pursued - not in every district or region. I am convinced of that when foster parents can actually refuse to be registered yet be given children. Protection agencies informed of a risk situation but which do not act in time to save a child or, having acted to protect a child when a risk was suspected, they refuse to return the child even when no evidence of risk exists and when other evidence points to a return being in the child's best interest.

There is only one word that befits the realities – INCOMPETENCE. It is a universal child protection malaise.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Public Trust, Power and Corruption / Part 380 / For Love and For Justice / Zabeth and Paul Bayne

Public Trust, Power and Corruption

A fundamental theme of democracy is the concept of the public trust which asserts that within the public there lies the true power and future of a society and therefore the trust that the public invests in its officials must be respected.

A young person was speaking with me about the seeds of cynicism that have germinated and developed into full grown pessimism. At first one surmises this is cynicism about government but closer inspection reveals it is cynicism about persons, people, humanity. So few people come to power without becoming tainted or even derailed. The reality was captured in a phrase. “Power corrupts: absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

There is more to this adage which derives from a quotation by Lord Acton, who was actually John Emerich Edward Dalberg Acton, in fact Baron Acton (1834–1902). As an historian and moralist he summed his thought in a letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton in 1887 with these words: "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men." What chance had public trust if that revelation becomes our starting point? Another ancient, William Pitt, the Elder, The Earl of Chatham and British Prime Minister from 1766 to 1778 is recorded as having made an equally profound and disturbing statement in a speech to the UK House of Lords in 1770. "Unlimited power is apt to corrupt the minds of those who possess it."

If the Liberal caucus is comprised of many who have already compromised their respect and the opposition NDP has nothing better to show, where are we to look for leadership and guileless aid when we want something as simple as mercy or compassion?

Employees within the B.C. Ministry of Children and Family Development are not elected officers yet to them has been invested a responsibility that in some circumstances has not unlimited power but immense power which when employed can shroud its actions under a legislatively sewn cover of confidentiality and privacy. That without question has generated a pattern of conduct and job performance that has not been in the best interests of children and families for countless thousands of British Columbians. Public trust has been lost for all of these in their elected officials and others employed within governmental ministries. I mentioned to that young person with whom I spoke that he had articulated his eroded trust issues much sooner than I have. I have waited until my senior years to realize how awful things are. Now, I am almost overcome by the avalanche of disappointments. The few untainted MCFD employees whom I earlier mentioned must be as much or more discomfited by what they see around them each day.

Will the true champions please stand up? Will the honourable call for accountability? Will the untarnished stand out as attractive leaders?

Friday, November 26, 2010

A BRIEF REPRISE/ Part 379 / For Love and For Justice / Zabeth and Paul Bayne

Yes of course issues of abuse and neglect affect children from every social and economic societal strata. The majority of families involved with MCFD however, are socially marginalized and economically disadvantaged. In 2005, 2006, and 2007 Paul and Zabeth Bayne did not fit that social classification. They were employed and had purchased a new home with property. They were beginning to fulfill a shared dream of family in a family home where children grow up well and happy and motivated to aspire to develop and to achieve. Paul experienced job layoff that many others do and then an on the job injury but they were okay and they would have been fine. They had a community of friends and family who responded kindly with help.

Their third child's injury sustained in the home in 2007 and the indicators which obligated the investigative pediatrician to base her diagnosis on her conviction and training turned their idyllic world on its ear. You who are familiar with this case hardly require a reminder of the precipitant diagnosis. In this physician's mind, the child's observed medical conditions corresponded unambiguously with non accidental causation. The injury(ies) had to be inflicted by someone. That was the assumption, not the evidence. That led to the understandable involvement of the RCMP and then MCFD. When the investigative dust settled, RCMP withdrew and MCFD based its opposition to the fitness of the Baynes to parent that injured child, on that first doctor's diagnosis. MCFD action can only be countered legally and the costs of that now marginalized the Baynes in this sense, that they forfeited their home and Zabeth's grand piano to cover legal costs. So they too could have been called economically disadvantaged I suppose. They needed to be available during day hours to attend meetings, court dates, and visitation dates with their children. Did they seek social assistance? Listen, they took night custodial jobs and have lived in rental facilities. But you need to know that they have an attractive, warm, clean, roomy house with a yard and ample space to which their children can return. They have food and security and friends and family. They have everything that is required materially and socially and emotionally and morally to manage this family.

And they didn't hurt their youngest child.
They provided the only explanation they could, and it was reasonable in the opinions of many experts who were asked to review the same medical evidence that the original pediatrician discovered. A playful running sibling fell on the baby. That much the Baynes knew. Neither child at the time appeared to be more than temporarily affected so the event was dismissed. When their infant newborn began to be distressed over a period of days and no medical professional in any of several medical facilities was able to accurately assess what was going on, they were desperate. They did mention the children's collision during one medical visit but that data was noted and ignored. Only when the serious findings were disclosed in Children's Hospital did they realize the impact of that earlier domestic accident. What else were they to deduce? Faced with an accusation that one of them had willfully harmed the child, that childish tumble now offered the only explanation. An explanation which was not accepted by the medical professionals at Children's Hospital or by the caseworkers assigned by the Fraser Valley MCFD. So it has come to this. We wait now for a judge to come to a judicial opinion. We may have eight or nine weeks to wait.

Thursday, November 25, 2010


Paul Daly/Canadian Press
Danny Williams, First elected premier of Newfoundland and Labrador in 2003, announced Thursday he is leaving politics, AND DOING IT RIGHT, leaving within two weeks.

PROUD MARY KEEPS ON BURNING/ Part 378 / For Love and For Justice / Zabeth and Paul Bayne

Mary Polak has been treated fairly on my blog. I report what is to be reported. I have not taken unkind shots at her. Perhaps I am like one hundred other journalists who are politically polite. Not so Alex G. Tsakumis, an insider, politically savvy writer, whose blog is easily the most straight-shooting prose you will find in cyberspace. So if you want another good way to fill five minutes of every day, check out his Rebel with a Cause site.

Some days ago, when Bill Bennet was getting axed by his Liberal Caucus amigos, Alex wrote a post. Mary Polak had been tiptoeing to explain the Cultus Lake incident in which for nine days a disabled girl was stuck with her dead mother's body. Straight-shooting means that sometimes the target gets wounded or dead. Tsakumis' target was proud Mary and the article was entitled, 'Bill Bennett Booted but Mary Polak Rewarded?! Democracy in B.C. Politics–Non-Existent.'.

I have pasted the article in its entirety here because I am very concerned about the governance of our province, and particularly now as it relates to the welfare of children and their families.
“Think about this. On all the news programs and in the papers this morning, and for the last week, we are consumed with the story of a 14 year-old Down syndrome girl, who for nine days, soaked in her own urine and excrement, was trying to nurse back to life her mother’s rotting corpse.

But this is apparently of no interest to presumptive Premier Kevin Falcon, or contender Rich Coleman, or dreamer George Abbott and the deeply delusional, ‘Basi-Virk’ excuse pinch-hitter Mike DeJong. NOT ONE of them stood up in Cabinet today and demanded Children and Families Minister Mary Polak be immediately fired.

Why should Proud Mary, Gordon Campbell’s chief loyalist in caucus be fired?

Read on.

After the young girl’s two courageous brothers begged the Ministry of Children and Families to intervene two months ago and extract the girl from her alcoholic and drug addicted mother, the Ministry, in turn, left the child in a definitively at-risk position, where if she had not been discovered when she was, within two days, she too would have perished.

In subsequent interviews, Minister Polak, in what I can charitably describe as a woman suffering from the most severe case of PMS in the history of the menstrual cycle, mouth frothing with indignation, high-gloss manicured claws growing, proceeded to provide the most disgusting display of media deflection and excuse-peddling I’ve seen in years–angry, defiant and nasty. Sound familiar?

But Polak’s Campbell-fueled fib factory is rewarded with the crown for winning ‘Survivor of the Dimmest’. Not a single Cabinet member went after her for such a despicable display. Not one of them cares about the fact that Judge Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, MCFD watchdog, has written a letter to the Minister complaining that the incident with the Prentice family was not only NOT reported to her, but never even booked by the Ministry.

That was a week ago.

No response from Deputy Minister Lesley DuToit (a hand-picked Campbellite) or Minister Polak herself whose is content to gloriously writhe under the cover of the Campbell tartan.

She doesn’t care. She fabricates conditions upon which this near double tragedy unfurled. She takes a position most offside of an honest word.

And yet Bill Bennett is jettisoned by his Cabinet colleagues for telling the truth. Mind, if Bennett felt the throne was occupied by the wrong royal, what was he doing sitting at the round table for as long as he did?

Only in Gordon Campbell’s universe do you survive for being a rube or a charlatan. If you tell the truth, they rip the phone from your hands and send a disgraced Cabinet member to display your head on a stick.

While Mary sits, laughing…”
Clearly Alex doesn't want to sit with her to fix things. He merely thinks she and others deserve to be gone.
Post title suggested by the song Proud Mary, written by John Fogerty and made famous by Credence Clearwater Revival and by Tina Turner, and the Post theme derived from Mary Polak, Minister of Children, B.C.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

TRANQUILITY BASE / Part 377 / For Love and For Justice / Zabeth and Paul Bayne

My mind thinks like this. When finally Judge Crabtree publicly discloses his ruling in this case, how will the family mark the occasion? In this case of MCFD versus Paul and Zabeth Bayne for the continuing custody of their children, when the judge awards the three children to the Baynes unconditionally, what will be a fitting memorial? Of course that will be the Baynes' decision but I can't help but offer a suggestion. I have no idea why this theme comes to mind other than an emphasis upon danger, risks and cost.

I was a young man and it was one of those events in history that is so indelibly etched on the mind you remember where you were and what you were doing. It was 1:17 pm PDT on July 20th, 1969 and American astronaut Neil Armstrong announced to NASA's Houston headquarters, "Houston, Tranquillity Base here. The Eagle has landed." Tranquility Base was the name given by American astronaut Neil Armstrong to the landing site on the moon where the Apollo 11 Lunar Module Eagle made the first moon landing. It took seven years and $150 billion in today's dollars to get there. Armstrong apparently named the site himself and it surprised NASA Mission Control personnel but the International Astronomical Union honoured the men by recognizing the designation 'Tranquility Base' and listed on lunar maps today, is Statio Tranquillitatis, to correspond with other lunar Latin names.

So when the children come home, perhaps the Bayne home can be dubbed “Tranquility.” After the years of trouble, heartache, personal losses, fears, hardships and costs, their family home can be for all five, well, six, the base of tranquility. Perhaps wherever they move, the home can bear that name. Other words speak similarly to the comfort that will be resident in this home, such as serenity and placidity. I like the sound of the word serenity. If I can be so bold as to suggest a name for the new baby, what if this is a girl? Do you think a name like Serena is out of the question? The name means "serene, calm, composed, peaceful, cheerful ". It was apparently a name used by Roman Christians.

That's my most presumptuous post so far.
BULLETIN, BULLETIN: This news arrived this morning. Baynes don't need my help. They are having another little boy and have chosen the name 'Josiah', which means 'God heals'. It's fitting they are praying that God will heal their family physically and emotionally and in restoring their family that God will continue to allow them to help others in need of restoration and healing in their families. Josiah will be given "Idar" as a middle name in honour of the baby's Bumpa, Zabeth's father, because he has suffered a great deal through the tragic removal of his grandchildren and this news has brought joy to his spirit even while tears are in his eyes.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A Photo Collage

Take a Look... Another visual indicator that the Bayne family must be together now and forever. A collection of images from a recent supervised visitation in their own family home.  
Courtesy of Zabeth Bayne Facebook page.

PAINT IT IN DARK SHADES / Part 376 / For Love and For Justice / Zabeth and Paul Bayne

Social workers with the Ministry of Children are programmed with authority to enter your premises without warrant when they suspect abuse or neglect. This corresponds with our democratic script for the mandated agencies that superintend our lives with law enforcement and social welfare. Within that fabric is child welfare and protection. When actual abuse or neglect occurs in a home, parents may be compelled to submit to court ordered supervision by MCFD. While this will be temporary and could be ongoing, the MCFD may seek to permanently remove children from parental care as they have done with the Baynes and the Continuing Care Order application upon which Judge Crabtree is presently deliberating. First they have removed the Bayne children to long-term care yet with regular contact with parents, but MCFD (Fraser Valley Region) hopes that the Judge will award permanent custody to MCFD with the intent of having these children adopted.

Lily Marneffee, 'Yellow Splash'
people's perception of MCFD
In this specific case, the wretched nature of this design and all of the decisions and actions to achieve the goal, paint child protection in British Columbia with dark shades of silence, concealment, fear, antagonism, chaos and bereavement. It's all about perception. The finished landscape of MCFD may not be accurately portrayed in greys and blacks because there may be actual promising bursts of cheerful orange and hopeful greens but I can't see them at the moment. Nor, I suspect, will an entire BC population see anything but black when the media dip their brushes into the red pot of frustration and anger and come up painting the clear blue of truth as this chapter concludes. May the Baynes' children be returned to them, and may that same good future be the experience of the countless other moms and dads whose children would be far better off in their family home than in a foster home but are caught in a bureaucratic trap.

Monday, November 22, 2010

A SOCIAL WORKER'S CHALLENGE / Part 375 / For Love and For Justice / Zabeth and Paul Bayne

Identifying abuse and assessing risk is a complex process. Seldom can social workers establish child abuse based upon a single call-in or information item. Serious injuries to a child do arouse suspicion yet the injuries may be the result of accident or illness. Further even when injuries are non accidental, the offender may not be clearly identifiable. Typically social workers must assemble a picture of the family as well as an account of the incident by fitting together conversations and information from many sources such as relatives, friends and neighbours and professionals. The information with which they deal possesses variable degrees of reliability but social workers must act and make judgements concerning the safety of children in a case. Moreover they must act quickly.

Michael Taylor, leather mask

There is a need for haste if danger is real and also because the governing act has time constraints. So social workers form rapid opinions about parents and often upon limited evidence. It would be reasonable and wise therefore that such opinions would be considered provisional and open to revision. There should always be a willingness to consider many sources of new information that may challenge the initial opinions. In this difficult area of child protection work, social workers are fallible. They cannot make the 'right' decision in any absolute sense. Judgements and decisions can only be deemed the 'best' based on the available evidence. As the case progresses and new information and ideas are received, judgements have to be reviewed and sometimes changed. Social workers therefore often have to recognize, that although their former views were reasonable at the time they were made, they were nonetheless, wrong. They were mistaken. One might even safely say that mistakes are an inevitable part of practice and a preparedness to recognize them as mistakes is an essential element of good practice.

The tension created for social workers is constantly reflected on this blog because on one hand we, the public, want to insure the protection of children against parental abuse and on the other hand we want to champion the family as the citadel of democratic freedom with which no one, including governments should interfere.

Therefore, it is imperative that initial information be checked thoroughly for accuracy of reliability since child abuse is so emotive and reports can be exaggerated or false. Certainly the social workers must make rapid judgements about the character of people, parents and informants but all these should be checked and rechecked for a thorough investigation. Properly following investigative procedure can result in further details that revise the initial case assessment and there must be a willingness to change the opinion. Further, a social worker may find that given some reflective time away from the child and the parents, and in collaboration with others such as a supervisor, the facts produce a different picture of the case.

I have listened to the divergent opinions of a Ministry lawyer and a parent/defendant lawyer, one arguing that the investigation was thorough and all pieces of the puzzle fit together to portray the truth that one or both parents injured an infant, and the other counselor arguing that the investigation was a cursory, inferior narrative to substantiate a medical report and placement of blame to which the social workers had committed themselves early, and that the truth lies in their innocence and in a mistaken diagnosis and blame assessment. I accept the latter position and I am confident so will Judge Thomas Crabtree.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

DEMOCRACY AND CHILD PROTECTION / Part 374 / For Love and For Justice / Zabeth and Paul Bayne

We can knock the involvement of the Ministry of Children in the lives of families and parents but we had better understand the philosophy that drives it.

We appreciate and applaud the democracy in which we live. We therefore need to understand it. As democracy pertains to the welfare of children, parents possess substantial rights as well as responsibilities with regard to the care of their children. Yet we have opted within our democratic society to provide a safeguard to children whose parents cannot or will not provide them adequate care. The government also owns responsibility to insure that children's needs are met.

Autonomy does characterize parental rights to decide for their children with regard to educational opportunities, religious heritage, discipline, cultural and recreational activities. Yet within this freedom lies an awareness that when concerns arise about physical, sexual, emotional abuse or neglect, then the government by way of a mandated child protection agency may become involved with the family. Sometimes this involvement is voluntary, which is to say that the agency upon request offers parents support and counsel to more effectively care for their children, and this may include monitoring and accountability. Other times the agency's involvement with a family is involuntary and even unwelcome. Of course a child protection agency must protect children from parents whose conduct constitutes physical abuse or neglect, sexual abuse, emotional abuse or neglect, or failure to provide adequate care. It is never justifiable to interfere with a family merely because the agency believes it can do a better job of care or provide more developmental opportunities. Justification of involvement occurs only when the level of care received by children has fallen below a standard which no child in the country should experience.

The social worker's struggle and the parent's conflict arises from the vagueness of definitions for child abuse and neglect because this requires assessment by a particular worker as to what that minimal standard for care should be and whether or not these parents have missed it.

This is certainly one of the dilemmas of our child protection system.
What is occurring presently with Paul and Zabeth Bayne and the repeated attempts by MCFD SWs to schedule a meeting to discuss the support and care of Paul and Zabeth Bayne's fourth and unborn child and Zabeth herself may be viewed technically as fulfilling the MCFD mandate. In light of the years of pain that MCFD involvement has delivered to the Baynes, these recent overtures might be interpreted as tantamount to harassment. Paul and Zabeth have always been trustworthy people. As young parents, they were responsibly caring for their three children before they were removed and under the gloomy forecast of the past three years have conducted themselves admirably well. While they wait now for news from Judge Crabtree as to whether they will be awarded custody of their three, they have characteristically prepared for their newborn. They are employed, have excellent medical support through family doctor and obstetrician, are registered at a hospital that is equipped with a special care nursery to handle deliveries 24 weeks and over, and they have the great benefit of incredible support from family and friends. Rather than playing by the book now, it would be advisable for MCFD to desist. It should be clear that confidence in MCFD motive and conduct is expended.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

TV REALITY SHOW / Part 373 / For Love and For Justice / Zabeth and Paul Bayne

This would make a great reality TV show. I'm serious. Think about it.

It's a popular format. Numerous celebrities are having a second-wind career from reality shows filmed around the true life scenarios of their own lives, and when it involves whole families, they create appeal to a wider age spectrum of viewers.

The Gene Simmons Family Jewels show is a great example. It features former KISS rocker, Gene Simmons, and his girlfriend, actress Shannon Tweed, whom he proudly never married but has lived with since 1985 and is utterly devoted to her. Also integral to the show are their two children, Nicolas born in 1989, and Sophie in 1992. Occasionally Shannon's sister, Tracy Tweed also appears.

A host of others like the Ozzie Osborne Family Album and Hulk Hogan and his family and action film superstar Stephen Seagal now turned Lawman and Paris Hilton and M.C. Hammer all have tried or are trying their hands at this medium for making cash. And that is precisely my reason for mentioning this possibility in the context of British Columbia's Ministry of Children and specifically the child protection arm. MCFD and the public are constantly carping about the government budget cuts, the consequent staff shortages and large case loads. Critics of child removals and foster parenting are always putting forth arguments that allege monetary agendas. I just think we should meet these issues head on by considering a sure-fire solution for everyone.

I already write reams of posts that suggest that MCFD is a side show so why not capitalize upon this with a proposal to Canada's Global Reality Channel which specializes in such shows. It's a natural. A persuasive producer or two could persuade Mary Polak and Leslie du Toit and the cast of Regional Directors to agree to this enterprise. It holds the possibility of generating millions in revenue for the Ministry. The next BC Premier should be pleased because it reduces the headache of funding this behemoth of child care. Some of the begotten money could be dedicated to parents who have lost almost everything on legal fees. A couple of good writers could pull out true stories from all the regions, subscribe the participation of the principals, the clients, i.e. parents. A world class director could have his videographers and sound people in MCFD offices, family homes, at visitation sites, in the court rooms, wherever good authentic dialogue can be obtained to dramatize the contention between the Ministry of Children and broken-hearted parents and disillusioned children. Court observers and friends could be interviewed for their reactions and opinions. Can't you see it already! A Fantastic journalistic coup, a hit! And imagine being on site when a judge rules against parents, or when social workers high five each other in the hallway after a decision in their favour. The range of emotions make this a winner. Oh, and if good parents got their children back and a great musical score plays in the background – how great would that be! The spin off revenues from sales to the UK, USA, New Zealand and Australia would be astronomical.

The show could be called one of the following, Big Money, High Risk, Flight or Fight, MCFD, Saddest Loser, or House-Broken.

Friday, November 19, 2010

IMPOSSIBLE TO PLEASE US / Part 372 / For Love and For Justice / Zabeth and Paul Bayne

Child Protection workers and administrators would like us all to understand what an almost impossible task they have. Well, impossible in the sense of making all citizens happy with the results of their work. They will tell us that a perfect balance is unachievable between not protecting children from abusive parents and not making unfounded accusations against innocent parents. Stated differently and more positively, it is difficult both to protect children and to correctly assess risk by parents. To which I and others will quickly declare, “Then become more proficient at the latter in a hurry.” What kind of nonsense is that anyway. CPS or MCFD should not even have the authority to do the one if they do not possess the skills to do the other upon which the first must be based. How stupid is this logic? “We can't always be right about whether there is a legitimate risk with these parents but we must protect the children at any cost so we are removing them anyway.” It is irresponsible for a government to condone and to empower an agency to be this frivolous with the lives of its citizens and with their human rights. We are not Hasbro, Nintendo or Mattel games to be played.

'Sunset Under Clouds' panorama of Vancouver BC by Thom Quine
When they are deciding whether a child should be removed from parental care, child protection workers and court judges must have a panoramic scope of inquiry. They must be able to see retrospectively as well as prospectively and I am concerned that we are not witnessing this kind of comprehensive welfare expertise. As in the case of the Baynes, the Ministry of Children would determine the future care of children based upon an uncertain historical understanding of whether the parents are truly guilty of harming one of their children or whether their conduct with their children  for these past three years  proves that they could never harm any of their children in the future. The thinking seems to be that the truth doesn't really matter when the safest possible social action is to remove the children from the parents about whom the Ministry is apprehensive.

There has been what I suppose is a predictable tendency that has occurred over several decades. In the past it may have been that many cases of parental abuse or neglect were overlooked or ignored or possibly unrecognized. Society and children were poorer for this unfortunate neglect. In recent years substantial modifications have occurred in social attitudes, knowledge, legislation, and policies regarding child abuse and neglect. Then health-care professionals, police, the courts and child welfare professionals began better to understand and to respond to child abuse and neglect. With increased numbers of intakes, almost inevitably it became known that misdiagnoses of parental abuse or neglect had occurred. There were relatively few such cases perhaps but nonetheless, each unfounded allegation had profound adverse effects on parents and children. It is simply not acceptable to conclude, well, that can't be helped. It's the cost of being safe.

Quite possibly a case like the Bayne case will prompt yet another independent inquiry into Child Protection in British Columbia and yield recommendations which can protect children while also perfecting trustworthy risk assessments and which can develop a new paradigm of child protection and workers who bump up the compassion quotient and reduce the antagonism.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

THE URGENCY OF THE RULING / Part 371 / For Love and For Justice / Zabeth and Paul Bayne

 Judge Thomas Crabtree is an active gentleman with more than enough responsibility. He has cases pending upon which he must adjudicate and he has his new duties as Chief Justice of British Columbia. Somewhere during his work days over these next several weeks he is allocating hours to read through the 237 pages of transcript generated over the twenty-two days in court when the case between the Director of Family and Child Services and Zabeth and Paul Bayne was heard. He has himself expressed his cognizance of the urgency of this outcome for all who are involved and that means he will deliver his ruling as soon as he can. He did provide an estimated window of eight to twelve weeks. That puts us into 2011.

Paul and Zabeth outside Chilliwack Courthouse
The Director's application for a Continuing Care Order for all three of the Bayne children is the causative legal action that finally brought this family to the Provincial Court. The application should be denied. The Baynes' three children were born October 18, 2004; June 12, 2005; and August 3, 2007 respectively and they have not lived with their parents for over three years because the Director removed them and kept them. This application should be denied because the quality of its supportive evidence is deficient. That deficiency is articulated for the Judge in the Baynes' Final Submission in refutation of the Finn Jensen closing summary. It should serve to underscore the impressions his Honour himself deduced as he listened in court hour after hour. Impressions that the Baynes are not baby abusers, that circumstantially incriminating information should no longer be used to punish these parents in the name of protecting the children, that the disparity between Ministry and Bayne resources to argue this case has not resulted in a conclusive victory for MCFD.

And yes, this case is crucial. The urgency of the ruling and the outcome to which Judge Crabtree alluded, for all who are involved, is not something we have thought much about. Its importance for Paul and Zabeth is patently obvious. Each day that they wake they face yet again the reality of their loss and the Director and his cast want to see this continue as a life sentence. The urgency of the outcome for the Ministry is not customarily considered but it should be. The Director can ill afford to lose another judgement because the publicity depreciates his reputation and this case has already garnered national and local televised news coverage and it will again. Reputation is invaluable and notoriety is to be shunned. What mystifies me is the modulation from sincere conscientious concern for the safety of children to the aggressive anti-Bayne/parent commitment that characterizes the evidence put forward during this hearing. Further, Minister of Children Mary Polak doesn't want to face media questions about the case handling of one of her regional offices. It is not an enviable aspect of her job. She was already stick handling her way at a news conference yesterday with regard to the young girl left with her dead mother's body at a Cultus Lake home. Her Ministry has not been forthcoming with information about that case, at least not nearly soon enough to satisfy Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, the Children's and Youth Advocate who already went public with her disapproval and this week subpoena'd the information. Thanks to a reader today for supplying this Times Colonist link to Turpel-Lafond's statements.

So very much depends upon a Judge's discernment right now. 
An earlier blog post, Part 238 July 3, 2010 entitled 'The Importance of the Bayne Ruling' also spoke to the significance of the outcome but anticipated it much sooner than it will come. The delays of the court case have been lengthy. 

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

VIRTUAL VISITATION / Part 370 / For Love and For Justice / Zabeth and Paul Bayne

This is something which perhaps in a short time will become actual in divorce settlements, and I see no reason why parents embroiled with the Ministry of Children and Family Development should not already move forward to gain this privilege as well. I think that every parent whose child has been removed should consider making this request to the judge, not only for scheduled visitation but for scheduled 'virtual visitation'.

I am using the information provided in an article written by Misty Harris of Postmedia News November 16, 2010 at 9:15 AM and published in the Ottawa Citizen and Vancouver Sun and a host of other news sources.

Photograph by: File photo, Postmedia News

Today, parents whose children have been removed into care by the government are often awarded visitation privileges consisting of a number of hours per week. Perhaps in the near future, parents may request a judge's order to the Child Protective unit to include 'virtual visitation' each night before bedtime, so that mommy and or daddy may say goodnight to their child or children. It can be a virtual tuck them into bed at night. MCFD and CPS will hate and oppose this innovation since an aspect of the removal agenda must necessarily be to reduce the child's reliance upon and affection for the biological parent(s). Foster parents will find this troublesome to a degree. But it will come.

Ms. Harris' story calls this a “digital leap in parental rights.” She writes about it in the context of divorce settlements and video chatting may soon become the right and not merely a privilege for some Canadian parents. Six American states already include virtual visitation in their legislation and in Canada, courts are routinely ordering this plugged-in parenting option on a case-by-case basis across our country when a divorced parent lives some distance from the child's residence. It is anticipated that 'virtual visitation' will become enshrined in the language of divorce settlements so that broken families will be subject to court orders that facilitate parent-child Skype calls and instant messaging at scheduled times. It will become a fixture in custodial agreements.

As we hear so often, the compelling factor is the best interest of the child. The visual immediacy of a web-cam chat is very beneficial to a child. Clearly, if a parent has abused a child and a child is fearful, a judge is not going to order a regular web-cam visit. But where the contest is clearly between a protection agency and the parents and a child thrives by actual visits with parents, a virtual visit will be viewed as constructive for the relationship and the future of the family. Shouldn't that be what MCFD and any CPS agency is concerned to achieve?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

REASONING PROCESSES OF SOCIAL WORKERS Part 369 / For Love and For Justice / Zabeth and Paul Bayne

There must be better decision-making in our child care system. I wonder whether social workers who have the responsibility for deciding the child's best interests are willing to evaluate that approach to decision-making and possibly to develop their capacity for critical thinking.

Periodic public inquiries into child abuse tragedies in British Columbia have demonstrated a level of public concern about the services that are designed by our Legislature to protect children. These inquiries have identified faults in the practice by professionals but the findings of such inquiries although spaced years apart from one another reveal similarities which is indicative of recommendations having had little impact upon improving practice. Quite possibly the most effective systemic transformation will come from self-improvement by social workers themselves.

This is but one example of a problem area. Professionals typically base assessments of risk on a narrow range of evidence. What has become apparent is that such assessments are biased toward the information that is readily available. Workers consistently overlook or ignore important data that is known to other professionals. The range of evidence relied upon is also biased towards more memorable data, expressly the evidence that may be graphic, concrete and that which arouses emotion. Moreover, it will be evidence that is either the first or last information that was received. Much of the evidence is often inaccurate, primarily because it is derives from biased or dishonest reporting or from errors during communication.

Of great concern is the observation of a pattern that new evidence is accepted if it is supportive of the existing MCFD view of the family. It is a significant issue that professionals are reticent to revise their opinions even in the face of a growing body of evidence pitted against the existing view.

It is unfortunate and absolutely dangerous to families that the errors in professional reasoning in the course of child protection work are not rare and random but predictable because people intuitively try to simplify reasoning processes when making complex judgments. Granted, such errors can be reduced and avoided entirely when social workers are aware of them and endeavor consciously to confront them. There is a great need for a balanced relationship between intuition and formal analytic thinking in decision-making and practice. Effective child protection practice requires both.

Monday, November 15, 2010

FREEDOM TO SPEAK / Part 368 / For Love and For Justice / Zabeth and Paul Bayne

Freedom of expression is a foundation of a functioning democracy. Section 2(b) of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms states that "Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms: ... freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication." Freedom of speech is a Canadian constitutional commitment that is predicated upon the belief that a free society is unable to function when there is coercive legal censorship motivated by those with power and an ideology that will not permit opposing viewpoints. Freedom of speech is maintained in Canada so that truth may be attained, people may be assured of self-fulfillment, people may participate as members of the society and as a means whereby both stability and change may be addressed.

Photo: (Soe Zeya Tun/Reuters)
The country of Myanmar is a member of the United Nations and is ruled by a military junta which has stifled free speech. Recently the international press has made much of the release on Saturday of 1991 Nobel Peace prize recipient pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi. She is now 65 years of age. She has spent 15 of the past 21 years in detention without trial. Her latest period of house arrest spanned 7½ years. Such oppression by the military regime explains why governments of Australia, Canada, France, the United Kingdom and the United States still refer to the country as "Burma", refusing to recognize the validity of the name change imposed by the Junta.

Photograph: Sipa Press/Rex Features
Canada granted Aung San Suu Kyi honourary Canadian citizenship in 2007 and Prime Minister Stephen Harper on Saturday called her a Champion of Peace. That speaks to the peaceful means by which she has always advocated her push for democratic rule in Burma, much in the character of Martin Luther King Jr., and Mahatma Gandhi. (Photo right: Aung San Suu Kyi's husband, the late Michael Aris and sons Alexander and Kim receiving Nobel Peace Prize on her behalf in 1991.) 

In Canada, there are limits to free speech and free press guarantees, as the Canadian Supreme Court is quite ready to point out. Yet those limits most certainly do not apply to speaking out about what is perceived to be injustice caused by a government agency and its employees. In British Columbia, numerous personal and media websites and blog sites have been chronicling stories about the way child welfare is conducted, particularly the administration of child protection. Some of those sites, like this one, are designed not merely to tell a story but to advocate for substantial and constructive changes in policy and practice that will ultimately result in benefits for Ministry of Children administrators and social workers as well as for children, parents and families. It is my position that the action steps for Ministry transformation in B.C. have not yet come close to the local administration of service delivery where all of the heart-breaking issues occur. Until Victoria begins to listen to the grassroots, to social workers and to parents, MCFD will fail to understand what must change.

A Basis for Discussion, Part 323, Sept 29 from this GPS site
CBC Story: Aung San Suu Kyi released
Video of Her Release: 
A Wonderful Collection of Personal Photos of her life with her late husband, British Academic Michael Aris 
Gallery of Her Life

Sunday, November 14, 2010

AN APPEAL TO PRAY / Part 367 / For Love and For Justice / Zabeth and Paul Bayne

Paul and Zabeth Bayne have now done all that they can in order to recover their three children and reconstitute their family identity. The identity is visible only on visitation days twice each week. On one afternoon they have three hours together with a supervisor who is contracted by the Ministry of Children regional branch to monitor the visit according to whatever guidelines and rules are prescribed by MCFD. Then presently because of a Judge's order, each Saturday for six hours the Bayne family may be together in the Bayne home or anywhere else. Access to the family home and familiar objects inside, means that the two oldest children, six and four years of age have been reminded of their time as a family three years ago. It has been that long. It was October 22, 2007 that the children were removed from the Baynes. The history of reasons and contests is in all of the previous posts and I won't revisit that here.

My point today is to say again that the Baynes have done all that they can reasonably do.

Some readers may still reserve judgement about their innocence of any harm to their youngest child. I understand that reservation. The facts are complex. I am grateful for the sake of the Baynes for the many who have believed the Baynes and been supportive. Many of you have expressed your support to them personally or by writing comments here or by standing outside the Premier's Office or at the Chilliwack Court House. Many of you have donated funds to help them cope with legal costs. A few have gone over the top with kindness, like Legal Counsel Doug Christie, and Advisor Mr. Ray Ferris and Director of Canadian Alliance for Social Justice and Family Values Association, Mr. K-John Chueng. There are others as well.

The Baynes have done all that they can do. They now wait for Judge Thomas Crabtree to process with a judicial, humanitarian filter all of the material that has been submitted by both MCFD and by Baynes.

I don't write to a church crowd on this blog site and I respect that not all of you believe in the effectiveness of prayer or believe in the one to whom prayer is directed. Since you know my spiritual commitment through the years as well as now, you won't disapprove of my appeal for people who do pray, to pray. For that reason I prepared a short appeal statement that has been sent to many people via email and which I present in a general fashion here. It is an appeal that is effective for the next many weeks until we hear from Judge Crabtree. Continue to pray.

Would you please pray for Paul and Zabeth Bayne and their three children, Kent (6), Baden (4) and Bethany (3).
Pray for Zabeth, pregnant with their fourth child and now in her sixth month.
And pray for Judge Thomas Crabtree who in the next 8-12 weeks is reviewing all court documents to prepare his ruling.
It has been three years that they have been apart. The family visits together twice per week, 3 hours one afternoon and six hours on Saturdays. You can see that they desire so much to be together permanently. The judge's decision will either be to award custody to Paul and Zabeth or to the province of B.C. I am convinced that this family must be rescued and restored. Thank you for praying.
I will let you know the outcome. Meanwhile you can follow the discussion at http://www.ronunruhGPS.blogspot.com

Saturday, November 13, 2010

9 DAYS WITH MOTHER'S CORPSE / Part 366 / For Love and For Justice / Zabeth and Paul Bayne

CBC's photo was public info but not her name

A neighbour found the 15 year old Down's Syndrome female surviving in the Cultus Lake mobile home of her mother who had died days before. That neighbour, Lawrence Jewett, Trailer Park Manager, was quoted by the Canadian Press writer as saying, “I'm just glad we found her when we did because it could have been one hell of a lot of worse.” He and another neighbour broke into the trailer to find the girl emaciated and filthy. This was back in September.

Well yes it could have been worse and then what might the Ministry of Children and Family Development said in defence of its conduct in this matter. As it is, what does the MCFD have to say? That's actually what Children's Advocate Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond wants to know. At the end of yesterday's work day she addressed the media with some consternation. In speaking to the CBC she said, "The ministry hadn't reported it to me....Any time a child has been left alone, with a parent who has died, for a number of days, I consider that to be an injury to the child, especially when the child has special needs." The injudicious action to which she made reference was the failure of MCFD to notify her of this incident before she learned it like everyone else through the media. That's right. The perception is that this is another instance of the Ministry failing to take Ms. Turpel-Lafond's role and authority seriously enough to inform her. Was that intentional? The public is left to surmise. Whatever MCFD was thinking, the decision comes down now with double the weight. Turpel-Lafond will conduct an independent investigation and we will hear about this once more.

The fifteen year old girl was dehydrated and hungry after being alone for nine days, nine days with her mother's body on the floor, and she was compelled to fend for herself. Yet she is entirely dependent upon adult care. The girl's brother learned that paramedics deduced that his sister would also have been dead within two days.

Oh but that is only the tip of the proverbial berg. We are told that multiple complaints about the child's care are on file with MCFD, Fraser Valley Region. Have you heard of their involvement in other cases? Yes, neighbours and family members, specifically the girl's older brother had expressed concerns about the mother's deteriorating state, her depression, her addictions to alcoholism and drugs and her inability to properly care for the girl. Ms. Turpel-Lafond mentioned this in her remarks yesterday. This maternal caregiver was unable to manage any longer. It might be argued that MCFD should have intervened here but the mother threatened a lawsuit for kidnapping. The CBC online story said that government welfare funding for the family care had been cut off, and asked how this woman was going to get by? We are never satisfied with what seems the predictable response of the Ministry. Children's Minister Mary Polak while acknowledging the tragic nature of this event, said that a full review has been done and she points out that we do not have all the facts so we should not jump to conclusions and she was prevented from speaking further to the public about this case because of privacy laws. And I say that those privacy restraints were not the reason why her Ministry failed to divulge this information to the Child Advocate. Apparently here again is a point of contention between these two departments.  No, no, that was merely an oversight by Ms. Polak's department, a lapse of judgement. Please! When will Victoria start leaning on the regional leadership? We would not tend to jump to conclusions if at least the Children's Advocate had been better informed. Because listen to this...

Ms. Turpel-Lafond said that MCFD supervisory staff had instructed social workers not to intervene in this case because they had enough cases already and enough children in expensive care. Oh really? Then how does one account for the aggressive behaviour of a region to remove three children from Paul and Zabeth Bayne, parents who are more than capable of caring effectively for their children. Behaviour that forced the parents into court after waiting for three years with those children in foster care? The erosion of public confidence in  the decision making of the area MCFD continues because of what appears a breakdown of timely information and accountability.

Kurt Petrovich CBC Video Story, interview with the girl's brother

CBC Video Story  interview of the Jewetts who made the discovery

Friday, November 12, 2010

GLORIOUS AND FREE/ Part 365 / For Love and For Justice / Zabeth and Paul Bayne

Gov. Gen. David Johnston greets
Silver Cross Mother Mabel Girouard,
mother of Chief Warrant Officer 
Robert Girouard,
who was killed by a suicide bomb
in Afghanistan in 2006.
(Pawel Dwulit/Canadian Press)
I, like thousands across this glorious land and free, watched the CBC televised broadcast of ceremonies in Ottawa to commemorate our heroes, the fallen, who loved enough this country and all for which it stands, to fight in the face of danger and ultimately to surrender their lives. Multilingual dignitaries found the words with which to express what this sacrifice has meant to all of us who survive and cherish our lives in this country. CBC again admirably portrayed the event. Cameras permitted us repeatedly to look directly into the faces of soldiers and spectators. We looked into their eyes. The eyes of veterans who were far away and came back. Soldiers whose eyes reflect the loss of comrades. Children's tear-filled eyes as mothers caress small heads in comfort because fathers could not come home alive. Women's eyes, dry now after all these years without their sweethearts who were lost in a distant battle. And CBC captured the music of choirs and bagpipes and bugles against these vivid visuals and cannon volleys punctuated the solemnity with a reminder of the sound of war. 

We are so fortunate. I ask why in this chartered land of freedoms are the freedoms of some withheld? When you commit a violation of law, you justly forfeit certain freedoms. In the defense of people's freedoms, such as children's rights to health and safety, governments must at times confiscate the freedom of those who are under suspicion. That is as it should be and it is understood. But governments or ministries within governments contravene their mandates when suspicion is equated with evidence, when the suspicion is not investigated expeditiously, when rights are withheld indefinitely, and when legal authority is abused at the expense of Canada's citizens.

This is what is observed within the child protection corridors of BC's Ministry of Children and hundreds of B.C.'s law abiding and decent citizens will bear witness to this. While social workers within MCFD at every level may see things differently than me and may even feel an obligation to defend all MCFD action, there must be some SWs who concur that there are frequent trespasses of protocol and propriety. It is important that some of you speak up. The necessary improvements to interactions with family and delivery of services cannot happen without such admissions and admonitions from within.

Thursday, November 11, 2010


Insignia of WWII Royal Canadian Air Force


Edward Richard Unruh, my dad was among the millions who fought to preserve us from outside oppression. We salute them all today.

SWs LEARNING FROM MISTAKES / Part 364 / For Love and For Justice / Zabeth and Paul Bayne

Eileen Munro wrote a 2006 volume called "Effective Child Protection.”
One of her most poignant lines quoted from page 141 is, "The single most important factor in minimizing errors is to admit that you may be wrong." This is fundamental to turning MCFD around. I explore that premise today.

Among the hard realities of child protective work is that we do not live in a perfect world and there are no perfect parents. Good parents sometimes make mistakes. All parents may not meet the arbitrary standards that a social worker has developed as a model. These parents can nonetheless function capably as loving caregivers and have a right to do so. They might benefit from services offered with no attached strings and provisos. Another hard reality is that child protection workers do make mistakes, yet if there is a willingness the same workers can learn from those mistakes and improvements can be made to practice. Reluctance to learn informs superiors that these workers may not be made of the right stuff for this work.

We would begin to minimize the mistakes that are being made in child protection if we employed the right people. Hiring and retaining the right people for child protection in British Columbia is a difficult science. I don't believe that the Ministry of Children and Family Development has yet mastered it. It's easy to be critical and I must sound like that often. If employing the right people for child protection is a priority for us, then what must be understood at the top of the stuctural chart is that there has to be a balance between acquiring people with an academic ability to meet the job demands and the emotional intelligence to work with families, colleagues and other professionals.

Did you catch that? Emotional intelligence is not to be shunned but valued. Child protection is not merely an academic exercise whereby one follows the letter of the law. This is human welfare with which we are dealing. These parents are fellow humans of the same stuff as you are social workers, and these parents are not antagonists by nature. Their adversarial buttons have been pushed sometimes by the mistaken actions of social workers who have failed to, or been unable to use emotional intelligence.
The skills and knowledge Eileen Munro thinks are needed to do the job properly include:
  • using comprehensive and rational frameworks to make decisions
  • using both current and historical information in relation to making judgements about families
  • being prepared to change their beliefs about a family based on new information i.e. not clinging to old beliefs whilst ignoring new information
  • workers testing their hypothesis about a particular judgement.
  • having a critical approach to the work they are undertaking
  • refraining from letting first impressions of the family shape case direction
These skills should be the common framework or language between the team leader and worker. A common ground that is used to measure and monitor what is happening in a family.
Mistakes will continue to be made in the helping professions. Child Protection is not immune from this. The challenge is to be proactive in developing systems that enable practitioner's to make the best decisions possible. Where mistakes are made, it is important that processes are put in place to salvage whatever lessons are possible.”

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

COMPARATIVES BETWEEN RCMP & MCFD / Part 363 / For Love and For Justice / Zabeth and Paul Bayne

Let's Compare the investigative practices of MCFD and RCMP

None of this affords me pleasure. I have all of my life held our governments and their agencies and law enforcement in high esteem. I have had little reason to question their integrity and uprightness. This past year because of my introduction to the injustice suffered by one family I have been exposed to the scores of other stories close to home and I have grown apprehensive and dismayed. My research suggests that child protection has lost its way in every province and if that was not startling enough in every civilized society. What is equably written here in this blog is blasted out with vehement rhetoric in newspapers, magazines, online websites and blogs all over the world. I have developed a unpleasant case of cynicism over these months. I am unsure whether it is a treatable condition. For the short term, I know I will have relief when the Baynes get their children back. But what about the thousands of other children who must stay in care away from the parents with whom they desire to live and who love them.

RCMP Coat of Arms

Similarities between MCFD operations and the deficiencies in RCMP investigations

A pattern of deficiencies in RCMP investigative processes have been uncovered in recent well publicized cases and we recognize some parallels in the way MCFD is processing child protection cases. These are deficiencies have been mentioned:

a. A preset mentality that someone is guilty - MCFD is similarly inclined to form an attitude that the parent(s) is guilty of some kind of abuse or neglect and so does all in their power to produce evidence however insubstantial.
b. Ignoring available evidence or actual evidence that contradicts the preset - Similarly MCFD predictably filters acquired evidence in order to promote that evidence which supports its view of the situation and it has failed to interview available and potential witnesses who would not support the preset mindset.
c. Pressing forward with the prosecution process by laying charges anyway – Similarly MCFD in the Family Court will continue their prosecution or persecution of parents involved to deny them justice and convince the Court of the charges they have against the family. I have witnessed this myself.

Factors in MCFD investigations of families:

a) MCFD says that it takes a forensic approach. This is acceptable provided that a balanced and thorough investigation is conducted in response to allegations, but often allegations have little substance.
b) Typically MCFD looks only for that which is wrong or deficient in a family scenario and places the parenting in the worst possible light ignoring all their admirable points.
c) Often investigators accept the views of those who support allegations while ignoring the advocacy of those who support the family.
d) Interviewing children who are considered at risk often is inferior, while parents may not be interviewed at all prior to the removal of children.
e) Many notifications of concern about children and false allegations against parents are found by MCFD investigation to require no further action.
f) Nevertheless, many investigations are pursued with a purpose to find something significantly wrong in order to justify the previous over-reactive removal of a child or to justify a subsequent removal.
g) The agenda may involve a vindictive attitude against a parent or social engineering bent designed to put the children with more suitable caregivers, (as with the removal of aboriginal children in BC and other provinces).
h) If the initial allegation of abuse proves empty, MCFD will stretch other matters in order to come up with other problematic suggestions like neglect or lack of control.
This is inevitable and healthy