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.”


  1. Hi Ron; your decision to run the current blogs on the child advocate's report seems to be a good call, which has drawn much comment. I would like to respond to one or two of them. Some people are cynical about anyone in a position of authority. I think scepticism is healthy, but nihilism is not constructive.
    I have mentioned before that in my advocacy work, I have found that in two cases out of three the ministry was being abusive, but in one case out of three, the parent was receiving fair, professional sound advice, but could not accept responsibility. I am glad that Ms.Turpel-Lafond shows appreciation for front line workers who do their best in difficult circumstances. Regarding CBC. The CBC is not an agency free to conduct a campaign or to do unlimited investigative journalism.. It is in competition with many networks and must try to maintain viewership while entertaining, informing and making advertising revenue. Individual reporters are not free to follow any story, but are under editorial supervision. You know how television works. Viewers must be given titillating sound bites.
    Two people mentioned Ross Dawson. One says the ministry has gone downhill since he left, while another mentions he was run out of office. To save people looking it up, I will tell you what happened. The Draayer (Much named in the news) foster home had cared for some siblings for years. They were getting older and they asked for a meeting with the social worker to say that they wanted a plan in place to care for the children in case they got too old to manage. They specifically proposed their own adult children, who were willing to take the responsibility. The social workers response was to contact the childrens' father, who had taken no interest for years. They took the children away from the Draayer home without consulting them and placed them with the father. The Draayers told the ministry that if it did not work out they stood ready to resume care of the kids.
    Well the placement did not last long and the kids were moved to another foster home far from the Draayers. Children's commissioner, Paul Paulen investigated and recommended to head bureaucrat, Ross Dawson that he return the children to the Draayer home. Ross Dawson refused to budge and Paulen put his whole investigation on his website. I personally downloaded it along with members of the media. A public scandal erupted. Premier Dosanjh did not have the power to overrule Dawson, so he passed an order in council removing him as director for that case only and appointing former Gove transition commissioner, Cynthia Morton as director in that case only. She returned the kids, while avoiding criticism of Dawson. Dawson quit to take a higher paid job in the USA.
    Ross Dawson was also the provincial child welfare director in the case of Mr. and Mrs. G,whom I covered in a previous blog. They had three children kept in care for nearly a year with no evidence to present and two kids were exposed to drugs in the group home. He ignored all the facts and tried to have the audit team whitewash the ministry staff.

  2. Ross Dawson is also the author of a still-active August 2000 internal policy on now allowing parents (or "clients) to record meetings, recommending social workers leave such meetings immediately.

    If you use Google to search only this blog, there is a comment that includes the entirety of this particular policy.

  3. The Lafonde report is a curious document in its length and what it does not say.

    The question I am left with is, so what if the recommendations are not implemented, because how do you enforce this? Other Provinces don't have Gove reports, so why should MCFD be obligated to do something 'extra?' All BC has to say is they are better than Quebec and Ontario.

    I would have expected such a large information acquisition and examination exercise to include conversations with people concerned only with orchestrating the Gove Report implementation. I don't see any evidence of this.

    Talking with high level MCFD sources is the fastest way to get the lay of the land. Perhaps Lafond is an unwelcome guest in the halls of MCFD?

    I was also looking for mention of any central section or prime contact that would head Gove receommendation implementations. Nada.

    Someone who would at least say "yep, half the Gove items are not yet done, so sue me." Then you could at least replace that person.

    Such a person must exist, and be higher in the chain of command than any of the five regional Directors, as I can't see them drafting any Ministry-wide procedures for each other to follow.

    If a project item is not completed, there is always a reason, a critical path where something is blocking progress. Lack of funding, resources, or motivation on someone's part -- SOME explanation.

    Since I am not seeing specific explanations, then, as one commenter put it, "MCFD puts this scathing report on the big pile with all the other scathing reports" and life goes on.

    Is it not as if you can punish MCFD or reduce their funding or staff for non-compliance. Firing the Minister or Deputy will simply make the minions jump up and down to enjoy the ensuing chaos.

    The impression I am left with is the reason for MCFD collectively NOT implementing the remaining recommendations is this would expose the Ministry's freewheeling nature and begin a trend to lock out incompetencies.

    What makes a concept such as a wiki-leaks website so attractive is it is the ultimate whistle-blower idea that exposes high-level gossip by people, paid by taxpayers in their respective countries, who firmly believe what they say can never be published and they will never be held accountable for what they say.

    Someone needs to publish a government mail exchange database and backups. That would be good reading, I'm sure.

    These days, more and more people should simply assume that what they say and do, record, photograph and videotape will eventually be published and potentially be used against them so should act accordingly.

    I think we need to get to the point where every syllable and text a publicly-paid employee utters should be recorded and transcripts made text searchable. The implication is that if these public servants don't do their job, the entirety of their job function is open to public examination and they can be replaced. No longer would "the system' be blamed for personal failings. Any parent who has dealt with a social worker who authored a false risk assessment or intake report and removed their children would likely agree with me.

    The general public should retain their privacy, the employees of the public don't need such privacy outside of wartime.

  4. Interesting comment by anon 2.21 PM
    The closest you get to a wickileak is getting a file under freedom of information. It is interesting in many ways, because of what is included and what is whited out.
    In the case of Rosanah Haldorson, which I covered a few weeks ago, I read about 1,000 pages of FOI release. Many of the documents were duplicated, because they came from different sections of the ministry. The whited out pages were not consistent, so by diligent combing and comparing duplicate documents, we could find out what had been omitted. It was no surprise to find that most of the deletions were illegal. A lot of the communications were bent towards covering butts and warning off dissenting staff.
    In the G case,which I mentioned above, the parents got their file under freedom of iformation. Lots of white-outs. Then the son got his copy after he was discharged from care. It was from this that we found in the so-called audit report (under Ross Dawson) that they discussed how to get revenge on me for sticking up for the family.
    I suggest that some of you folk who report having been abused on the pages of this blog,should think about requesting your files under FOI. It may take a very long time to get it, but after what you have suffered,it is well worth the wait. The ministry will fight tooth and nail to keep things concealed, but it is your right to have it. And guess what? Once you have it, it is your property and if you want to put juicy sections on this blog, you can do it.

  5. Many have commented that the report damning MCFD does not go far enough. On some levels this may be true, but this is the way of politics. Even while insulting someone the appearance of doing it in a courteous manner must be maintained. That the Hughes recommendations have not been implemented is hardly newsworthy as this has been reported time after time. The question most people want answered is -- Why? Since we have no definitive answers, we are left with examining the next best thing, the actions of the MCFD elite. Clearly things do not change when the Minister is replaced and of course a change in Premier is useless. Many of the failings can be traced to the highest level non-political appointee at MCFD, the very sturdy Lesley du Toit. Many articles are available online that relate the fact that she has her own agenda and does not intend to implement the Hughes recommendations. A commentator asked for internal correspondence from the MCFD. Some of this does already exist and can be characterized as do as she says or pay the consequences. Threats have also been made to attempt to keep this information private. One can only guess that there must be something to hide.

    Another suggestion was that Turpel-lafond should have met with MCFD brass. Lesley du Toit has refused to meet her.

    On another topic from a few days ago, a reader said that she did not have access to the medical records of her children previously in care. This is a curios example of government agencies interpreting regulations to their own needs or wants. In order to obtain these records, rightfully, once she has care of her children, the records should be given to her. Unfortunately, in many cases, roadblocks will be placed in your path. To best negate the objections, one must obtain a letter from a lawyer indicating that you have complete and full custody. Take note that a supervision order has no bearing on custody. If health agencies still object then means are available to punish them starting with complaints to regulatory agencies and associations and going all the way to criminal charges. One must start at the bottom and work up if they intend to succeed at the criminal level. Most health agencies will cave before this happens.

  6. November 30, 2010 2:21 PM by Anon:

    "I think we need to get to the point where every syllable and text a publicly-paid employee utters should be recorded and transcripts made text searchable.

    The implication is that if these public servants don't do their job, the entirety of their job function is open to public examination and they can be replaced. No longer would "the system' be blamed for personal failings. Any parent who has dealt with a social worker who authored a false risk assessment or intake report and removed their children would likely agree with me."

    What an elegantly brilliant idea. You made my day, just for uttering such a just proposition.

    (I wish I knew who these anons were sometimes!)

  7. My Responses to Commentators:
    1. Ray I am glad that you mentioned that Turpel-Lafond's praise of good social workers is justified and acceptable. Quite a few commentators think otherwise. Thanks as well for the insider scoop on the Ross Dawson/Draayer/Paul Paulen/Cynthia Morton story. It is despicable when people play politics with children's lives.
    2. Nov 30, 2:21 PM YOU MENTIONED The Gove inquiry and report and I believe you may have been referring to the Hughes Review. The Representative's duty is to assess the progress of MCFD in fulfilling the 62 recommendations from the Hughes' Review. YOU ALSO QUESTION why the Rep has not conferred with the bureaucrats of MCFD and I wonder too why there aren't references to conversations which would be the most advisable approach to solutions.
    3. Ray Ferris 3:10 PM YOU SAID, “I suggest that some of you folk who report having been abused on the pages of this blog,should think about requesting your files under FOI.” and I SAY, do what Ray advises.
    4. Child Protection Exposed YOU ASK Why MCFD has not implemented all of the Hughes recommendations and the Representative's report should have already dug to the bottom of that question, and should have mentioned Lesley du Toit's personal agenda for transformation to which I SAY, I believe that the report does do this while not mentioned du Toit's name.
    5. Anon 9:15 PM YOU SAID that every word uttered by MCFD employees and social workers should be recorded and transcribed, and although I believe you were stretching the point beyond what is realistic you did make the valid point that accountability is appallingly missing.


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