Frankly I don't know what it costs to fight the MCFD to regain custody of your children once they have been apprehended by the Ministry. I know that it has cost the Baynes very much. They had a home and property. Zabeth had a grand piano. That all became tinder in the inferno of conflict for which the Ministry has unlimited monetary ammo.
A number of you will be able to tell me how much it has cost you. And the horrible truth is that in most cases the apprehension is for temporary care. Yet in order to establish your ability and stability as a parent it will cost you money, which is so frequently that of which the parents have the least.
The entailed costs are customarily legal fees paid to a lawyer who knows the protocol and the legalese to converse in court and advise you about next steps. The truth is that the parents usually cannot afford the battle. (Look at the terms I am forced to use to describe this, “fight' and “battle”. )
Then there are other complications for these parents. The BC provincial shelter allowance policy is flawed because some parents require this to care for their family but when the children are removed even for temporary care, part of these monies is held back. The Ministry of Housing and Social Development (MHSD) cuts it off immediately, or at the end of three months, depending on the discretion of social workers assigned to the case. The dispiriting result is that parents are sometimes unable to retain their present housing and then the home to which they move is substandard and is not fit for children. Well guess what, the the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) is charged with helping parents safely receive their children back from temporary care, so when SWs advise the dropping of the shelter allowance, there is a significant contradiction happening here as in so many other areas of MCFD practice.
And then what? Well, the MCFD objective no longer is the return of the children to parents in that case.
Even in the cases where parents of children in care are granted a three month extension of the shelter allowance, that amount of time is inadequate for resolving the issues that MCFD has with the parents. Delays in process within child welfare and the courts are so common that before one knows it, six months, a year, eighteen months have gone by. Only the deprived parents and their children care. If it is a single parent, a mom on income assistance, just think how difficult it is for her to find housing. She cannot have her children back without good housing. It typically takes two to three years to locate adequate housing. It's around 35% of children taken into care that come from families receiving income assistance and get this, the majority are Aboriginal or single mother families.
With regard to MCFD, Family reunification should be this government’s number one priority. The Liberal Party over the past number of years has not prioritized this, has not funded it and therefore MCFD has diminished staff and resources and increased caseloads and a backed up court schedule has guaranteed that children will stay emotionally and psychologically disoriented within a foster care system for much longer than is either necessary or humane. I guarantee that unless some of you put this to Liberal and NDP party candidates they will not even be thinking about child welfare and protection and family unity.
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 no later than January 19th. Stay posted.