Tuesday, November 23, 2010

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.


  1. Are they allowed to enter even if you are not at home?

  2. Would someone with current information please answer the question above?

  3. I am going to give you another case history from my book, but first a quick response. If a child is alone and at risk, one can certainly enter the home in the absence of a parent. For instance, mother in the drunk tank tells police a three month baby is alone at home etc. Read the act, it will be in the fine print somewhere, you can acess it on line.Now for a story in two parts


    This was one of my cases when I still worked in Smithers. As his name was very similar to that of a famous Dickensian character, the above title will suffice. Mr. Nickleby presented himself one day at the office bearing a sealed letter from his doctor. The letter verified that the patient suffered from tuberculosis of the urinary tract and should be off work from three to six months. This sort of illness was still fairly common at that time. I took an application for social assistance from the man, which verified that he was sufficiently unencumbered by worldly possessions as to qualify for financial help.
    I explained to Mr. Nickleby that I would issue a cheque to him retroactively to the first of the month and that he would receive further payments on the first of the following three months, subject to his returning a completed form each time which verified the state of his income. He was also informed that he would receive a medical card, which would entitle him to a comprehensive range of medical services. I told him that he would need a new medical certificate after three months and that the fourth cheque would be the last unless he took further action. He expressed his appreciation for the help and assured me that he was suitably ashamed to accept welfare and that he would get back to work as quickly as he could. Such was the stigma in the public mind in those days, that it was common to encounter such self-condemnation from applicants who had fallen ill, or who had met with some other misfortune.
    I processed the paper work to issue the cheques and the medical card and signalled the file forwarding system to bring the matter to my attention after the fourth cheque was issued. The file came back to my attention before the due date, because Mr. Nickleby returned the fourth cheque and the medical card to us, with a short letter, thanking us for the help and stating that he had now returned to work as he was feeling much better. I cancelled the cheque and the medical card and closed the file. It was never re-opened.
    About three years later, when I had moved to Prince Rupert B.C., it was my custom on Saturdays to go to town to attend to various pieces of business and I used to take my two small girls with me, in order to give my wife a break from them. A frequent destination was the local coin laundry, because our rented house was not plumbed for an automatic washing machine. While the washing was being done, I used to try to entertain the children and we would walk around outside the laundromat. A friendly man in a business across the street got to know us by sight and he used to wave to us enthusiastically. After a few weeks, he crossed the street and approached me. "Mr. Ferris, do you remember me? My name is Nicholas Nickleby and you helped me out in Smithers." "Ah yes," I replied, "I remember. You had T.B. of the urinary tract. I hope that your health has remained good and that you are feeling well."

  4. Part two
    Mr.Nickleby seemed to need to unburden himself and went on at some length. "My health problems were mainly my own fault and I had become a real bum at the time. My problem was mainly the booze. Even if I had got sick, I was making enough money to have saved enough for a rainy day. Anyway, I want you to know that I have been sober for three years now and I got my third birthday cake at A.A. just last week. My life has really turned around and I want you to know that it is because of you." I was very surprised and I started to protest that all I had done was ensure that he got what was his entitlement, but he would not be put off. "When I came to you," he continued, "I was nothing but a bum. My life was falling apart because of alcohol and I didn't deserve nothing. But you treated me like I was a gentleman and I said to myself that if this man can show you respect, you had better start to deserve it and show yourself a little respect. From that day on I decided to turn my life around and live up to the respect you had shown me. Anyway, I want you to know that it all started in your office that day and I shall always be grateful to you." I started to protest that I had not done anything for him that he had not done for himself, but he would hear none of it and returned to his work, after repeating his expressions of gratitude.

    Case analysis

    Although this is not a child welfare case, I have included it because there is a valuable basic lesson to be learned here. Needless to say, although the episode was very gratifying, in reality it was as much a matter of the perception of the client, as much as due to any objective reality. However, it is the perception of the client that is a very personal possession and the client is the most qualified person to make subjective judgements about the influences in his life. In my view, I had merely performed a routine function of my job in a courteous manner and gone on to the next task. The lesson to be learned is how important it is to do our jobs in an efficient and neutral manner and if we are efficient and courteous, so much the better. We can never do harm in this way and we can be quite unaware of how much good we may be doing. I have always been glad that I did not suspect that Mr. Nickleby had a problem with alcohol dependence, because I might have mishandled the interview! As it was, I could not have hoped for a better outcome. This is also another case that shows how good practice can so often be appropriately defined as the absence of bad practice.
    Ron; I think this case is about dignity myself. We all have to find our own dignity and nobody can do it for us.
    I would like to add a footnote to my history on Mrs.K who was accused of satanic ritual abuse. The City of Vancouver police department used to employ an officer full time just to go round speaking to groups and debunking satanic ritual abuse as non-existent. I contacted this officer and asked if he would appear as a defence witness for Mrs. K. First he could not believe that the protection staff were still involved with such nonesense. He was on vacation and wanted $2,000 to testify. The money could not be found. Any comments?

  5. If they enter when you are not home, they better have a very good reason.

    And you do not ever have to let them in, not unless they have a warrant (and make sure it isn't some piece of paper that a social worker has signed).

    Social workers and MCFD don't follow the law, but that doesn't mean they are bound by the law. They may have a crooked judge rule in their favour, or an honest judge rule in their favour because he or she believes their lies, but the fact remains, it's still illegal to commit perjury or to take a child from someone and then invent excuses afterwards.

  6. Thank you once again Ray for this story of a life and a family changed and successful because of a social worker's capable handling of a case. I know that there are others who similarly today do their jobs with sincerity and integrity. You have been a good model. May there be many others.

  7. Ray Ferris brings up an excellent point.

    It seems that when he was a public servant, he understood that he was a public servant. So many today act exactly the opposite, like bullies and tyrants. Some may say that the job is so hard, and that clients or customers or the public are so difficult, but the fact is, if you can't treat people with consideration, you shouldn't be serving the public, and having them pay your salary.

  8. When social parasites seek entry of residence without warrant, they usually do it with the threat that they will scoop up children if parents refuse to allow entry. Most parents will bend.

    Likewise, many "consent" on supervision order and custody are obtained using children as pawns. Putting parents on duress is like pointing a gun at one's head to sign a legal contract. Of course, such consent is valid in the kangaroo "child protection" court.

  9. The Nickleby story does illustrate an example of a positive effect, and a decision by one person that could have gone either way.

    The story these days would more likely be that someone would report the man as a drunk to MCFD and his children would be taken away, at far greater cost than welfare and medical for a few months.

  10. The matter of warrants is an interesting one.

    The majority of child protection cases I hear about do not involve use of warrants. The Baynes case would have required a warrant had the removal decision been made while Bethany was at home. I'm not sure where the boys were, I think they were with the grandparents and they were designated as the caregivers for several months.

    There are too many ways for a social worker to accomplish their task without a warrant, it really is pointless.

    If one of these people show up at your door unannounced, without first phoning to arrange a meeting, you know it is for the purposes of intimidation and to get the advantage of surprise.

    Social workers avoid police and warrants for the most part by NOT going to the parent's home to remove or interview children. They wait until the child is out of the parents hands, then interview or perform the removal from a school, babysitter's, hospital, sports activity - anywhere but from the parent's home.

  11. Anon 7:46 AM Nov 24
    Thanks. An info note: Bethany was removed to care from hospital. The boys were taken from the family home. Later the next year, after the boys had been allowed to stay with grandparents, they were again taken by MCFD, during one of the boy's birthday party. The trauma is incredible.

  12. I asked a long-time parenting advocate about warrants, and the response was that not once in the many hundreds of parents helped in the past decade has a warrant been used.

    The advocate goes on to say, "Parents have the right to deny social workers entry into their home or permission to speak with their children, but are usually too afraid of the consequences. In most cases social workers use such flimsy evidence that they probably could not obtain a warrant."

  13. For information on warrants in CFCSA, refer to:

    It does not take a rocket scientist to disbelieve that in 100% of CFCSA cases, the conditions for NOT using a warrant are satisfied.

    I believe somewhere in the U.S. a class action lawsuit suceeded in compelling child protection to be more careful with warrantless removals. Perhaps someone can locate that.

  14. Check out this website, it has a ton of information, and probably has the case / publication you refer to (above).


  15. The Connecticut DCF Watch site has a useful handbook noting how child protection violates the US constitution. There isn't much on court judgments.

  16. I think the publication entitled something to the effect of "Child Protective Services and Your Constitutional Rights" has all the pertinent case law (or what was relevant case law at the time of publication).

  17. My social worker forced my husband and I to not see our children all summer. Our son was in hospital in Vancouver, we were first not allowed to see him for 35 days, days he stated were the lonliest in his entire life. THen we were required to see him so they could take notes and see if we would be appropriate parents for him. (MCFD took guardianship even thought the second doctor said that his illnes was not a child protection issue, they kept referring back to what the first doctor said, which insinuated I had caused his illness, although no information as to how).
    FOur of our children were required to stay away from us, not by court order, but by bullying.


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