Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Does it need Reform you Ask? / Part 415 / For Love and For Justice / Zabeth and Paul Bayne

I know that I rarely write about positive achievements of the child protection sector of the Ministry of Children and Family Development. Of course there are children that are secured from neglect and abuse. Sadly some parents are immature, reckless, substance addicted, or maladjusted and they are not properly caring for their children. MCFD steps in. Surely it is understandable if I do not mention these cases. That is after all what MCFD is mandated to do. When it is well done it doesn't need applause here. MCFD congratulates itself enough. Look at its web pages. This blog has focused upon that which is not working effectively in MCFD because that is what requires attention. That's what needs to be fixed so that is where I concentrate. Do I hit it right? I make no claim to thorough journalistic research. I am a listener. A host of similar stories inform me that MCFD is in trouble.

Much abuse goes unnoticed yet we are spending millions of dollars to keep children safe. Each year Ministry workers falsely accuse some parents and none of the money stems that transgression. Poverty is frequently and unjustifably equated with neglect, yet as one late night commenter stated yesterday, poor families do not equate to a higher incidence of child protection. The stories of how families are treated once they have come within the sweep of MCFD's radar are never happy. Some of the innocent families that have been victimized have hit the public news channels and front pages but not enough, because there are so many others.

A shift occurred in the 1960's when child abuse and neglect which were once treated as crimes began to be viewed as a treatable illness for which therapists, doctors and social workers were prepared to provide advice and to order help and resources. In conjunction with this diagnostic shift,  cases of abuse and neglect were no longer prosecuted but rather sent to family court which orders treatment. What I believe is forfeited is fairness and timeliness. So many of you readers have already told me that. Criminals are fully informed of their rights. They have an attorney to represent them even when they cannot afford one. The same is not true for accused parents. They do not get a jury of peers. They do not have the opportunity to face and to cross-examine their accusers. They do not even receive the right to insist that any evidence that is employed against them should meet the highest of standards. And we have underscored before the absence of presumption of innocence and the insistence of guilt being beyond all reasonable doubt? Or, what about not being subjected to cruel and unusual punishment, because that is precisely what some clinical dispassionate MCFD operations look like. There is no protection for parents accused of maltreatment of a child. Oh, but here is the disparity. If the Baynes had been formally criminally charged and tried, they would have been afforded all sorts of protections and provisions. Oh, so that imbalance and disparity is not MCFD's responsibility? No, but MCFD certainly works it.
This Blog has been advocating the return of three children to their biological parents, Paul and Zabeth Bayne, for which a ruling is expected from Judge Crabtree within the next eight days. Stay posted.


  1. Saanich Trauma part one.
    On Saturday I mentioned the case of a four year old boy in Saanich, Greater Victoria. He was admitted to hospital with head trauma and the medical staff reported to police that it looked as if he had been beaten. He had been taken early from an addicted mother and was still without a permanent life plan at the age of four. He had experienced several placements, including with relatives. He had been in his current foster home for about three months and it was hoped they would adopt him. The maternal grandmother is quoted as saying that she had complained to the social workers that the home was unsafe, but had gone unheeded. All the natural children in the home had been taken into care. The situation looked like a bad MCF goof and I mentioned that once more it looked as though the timelines in the act had been violated and that there was no coherent planning.
    On Sunday the Times Colonist printed further information,which put a different perspective on things. The picture painted was quite different, but still added up to poor social work. This time a new informant came forward, who of course could not be named etc.
    She was described as the former foster mother of the woman who had been caring for the boy. We learned the following. The mother in the placement had herself been a child in care. The home was described as low income. They had four of their own children, the youngest of whom was a nursing infant and was now six months of age. The informant said that she was in regular touch with her former charge and she thought that they were a normal family and very good parents who would never hurt a child. She also said that the boy in question had a history of disturbed and self-destructive behaviour and when frustrated would bang his head violently against walls.
    This raises many more questions. 1. Mother was an addict. Addictions are usually multiple, with cigarette smoking and alcohol abuse nearly always accompanying other drug usage. The strong probability is that the boy received multiple assaults in the womb and most likely suffers from foetal alcohol syndrome.
    2.He is stated to be on the waiting list for a psychological assessment. Foetal alcohol syndrome is a form of brain damage. It cannot be cured. Depending on the severity, one can sometimes successfully teach behaviour change, but for severe cases one can only use behaviour management. One would need to seek a psychologist who is skilled at teaching behaviour management for damaged children.
    3.If the boy is severely limited, it may be realistically impossible to find an adoption home for him and he may need a long term placement as a special needs child. His management might be demanding and his care would not be cheap.
    4.The placement was not congruent. The social workers must have known about the boy's uncontrolled and self-destructive behaviour. This is probably why other placements had failed. The placement showed incredibly bad judgement. A low income family with four of their own children and the youngest three months at time of placemen? In foster and adoption placement is generally considered very bad practice to place a child in between the ages of other children. We do not know the ages of the other children, but they were young enough to be considered at risk. I would worry about the potential for the placed boy to injure the youngest child. No doubt this "low income" family was hard put to it to care for four children, never mind adopting an extra one. Maybe family planning counselling would have been more appropritate.

  2. Saanich trauma part two.
    5.Given the history of self-injury, one cannot rule out the possibility that the boy inflicted the head damage on himself. They should not make the mistake that was made in the Bayne case and rule out any thought that the parents may never have done anything wrong. If one considers the possibility of self-inflicted injuries, then the removal of the other four children is not supportable. One would especially worry about the nursing infant. Okay, like in the Bayne case, the best information at the start looks serious. One needs to ensure that all the children are safe while the matter is fully assessed. The children should be promptly returned if it looks as if no criminal charges can be supported.
    6.Whichever way one looks at it, it is hard to escape the conclusion that this case arose out of poor child protection work. Lack of assessment skills. Lack of knowledge of how to assess and manage brain damage from abuse in the womb. Reactive and untrained planning. However, you look at it the boy and his foster family are all victims of circumstances created by the child protection staff

  3. I was browsing through the Canada Court Watch site and come across an article about a class action lawsuit against the College of Social Workers in Ontario, http://www.canadacourtwatch.com/content/class-action-lawsuit-against-ontario-college-social-workers-and-social-service-workers

    The question I have is what is the path Ontario took to get [all] their social workers registered with the College?

    The problem in Ontario is a lot of child protection workers are performing social work within CAS, but they are not registered as social workers with the College as is required by law in Ontario, therefore they are not able to be held accountable. They run amok just like here in B.C.

    Here in B.C., there are a number of MCFD social workers registered with the College. The one I've heard of that was complained about by a parent lost their registered status, and the college appeared to be diligent in attempting to rectify the issues.

    Tom Christensen introduced the College of Social Workers with great fanfare, but neglected to mention the many government agencies that employ social workers that are exempt from registration.


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