Monday, March 14, 2011


The details are scant but the story is true. Recently a European couple who emigrated to B.C. two years ago were caught in a gill net belonging to the Ministry of Children. Such nets are known to entangle families beyond escape. The female gave birth to a child who was hospitalized with post-birth complications. For reasons unknown to me a social worker in her mid twenties dropped by to speak with the mother. Perhaps because the mother was unfamiliar with English, or our social care system or preoccupied with her sick child and very new to mothering, she didn't give the social worker much time or attention. This was perceived as a dismissal. On a couple of other occasions the social worker sought to make contact but was again rebuffed. The social worker wrote a report that questioned the young mother's parenting ability, and you know where that leads. Would removal be deemed extreme?

We don't know what the social worker observed or what she recorded.
We don't know whether the social worker is an inexperienced recent program graduate.
We don't know whether the social worker's assessment was influenced by a perceived insult. 

But removal is an extreme response.
This cries out for a drastic change to child protection power.
This speaks to an absence of people skills and common sense.
This begs for an investment of Mother Teresa compassion into B.C.'s child protection.

Haunting cognitions concern me.
  • When a parent loses custody of a child, has it happened because social workers did not love the parent enough to give him/her what was needed?
  • Our society desires and expects that social workers shall succeed in keeping children safe but not at the expense of ruined families.
  • It is not too much to ask that social workers practice love toward parents with questionable parenting skills by nurturing them to effectiveness.
  • It is counter productive for social workers to treat parents as clients, cases, files and numbers, when a hand on the shoulder and a kind word, and a facilitative recommendation can break down barriers and build trust.
  • Social workers must have the capacity to forgive people who are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered and still work with them.
  • Social workers must be honest and frank while being sympathetic and understanding.
  • Social workers must guard against constantly judging people because then there is no time to love them.
  • A social worker can be most effective by speaking kind words which are short and easy to speak, yet their sound echoes long after they are spoken.
I welcome comments from educators within social work training programs, and from current or retired social workers. Tell me whether I am delusional or unrealistic. Tell me whether child protection social work can be practiced with such lofty aspirations.


  1. I am convinced with all my heart and soul that social workers exist to do Satan's work on earth: to destroy families that God has ordained!

  2. I am equally convinced that your premise is preposterous. Social workers exist to do social work. No diabolical agenda of family destruction is written into their mandate, and no affiliation with Satan. Human beings make decisions at times that clearly mess with families. It is that to which I speak on this blog, with a view to affecting changes in thinking, practice and legislation.

  3. The Canadian Association of Social Workers (CASW) developed a Code of Ethics for Canadian social workers. It consists of six values which are intended to guide professional practice in an ethical manner

  4. One would ask what does removal of photo privileges do with any of these social worker values or compassion?

    Roadkill Radio posted a story with excerpts from the interview with the Baynes last week

    Diane Holden has posted a GoPetition for licensing of social workers with the College:

    Any compassion, if it exists has to be reserved for the children. So, by removing children from parents to protect them, compassion is being shown to the children by using the narrow definition of what is in the child's best interests. The definition is individually determined by a particular social worker.

    Imagine of a police officer showed compassion to a speeding driver to let them off with a warning because they believed sob story their sick child or pregnant wife. Later the driver resumes speeding and gets into an accident. The theory is that compassion is set aside in order to protect others.

    I think I would rather these people just do their job, quickly, efficiently, and without court involvment. There should be no time to develop relationships, and no reason to demonstrate compassion. I don't expect this from a cashier, doctor, mechanic or social worker. I do expect it from friends, relatives and clergy.

    As Ray Ferris mentioned in one of his posts, it takes only a meeting or two to ask the right questions to scope out the family situation and then just as quickly offer remedial solutions.

    The pattern that exists now is that the appearance of compassion is simply a ruse or a weapon to build a case for removal or to slow down proceedings to keep children in care longer.

  5. 1. What does her age have to do with anything? Keep in mind this worker would have a supervisor who would need to approve any decision/recommendation.

    2. What was the MEDICAL staff telling this SW? Appears the concerns are medical, so removing the child because of a bad feeling on the workers part isn't plausible when the child was in hospital. They would have to go on the medical staff's opinion.

    Your "lofty" expectations are appropriate. Your own tone is counter-productive, Ron. You have become too cynical - though with your personal connection (Baynes), I do understand. I put this challenge to you - go find a SW and actually sit down and speak with them - maybe 5 or 6 or 10.

    This board will only offer you dissenting opinions and anyone promoting anything in support of MCFD gets lambasted anyway. ie, the "they are satanic" posters above.

  6. For Anon 9:35 AM

    - The age reference was as the case was told to me and could have been omitted. It is decidedly a bias pointing to the possibility of inexperience.
    - I acknowledge my growing cynicism. Hard to subdue when so little course correction or recourse seems possible.
    - your challenge to me to speak to SWs is worthwhile. Thanks.
    - We need to hear people who are less cynical than I, and so what if you take shots, you're anon anyway, and the 'satanic posters' are fringe and I won't tolerate much of it.

  7. One of the most serious errors of the current Child Protection racket is that the CASW does not apply to the vast majority of "Protection Workers". This is the most serious and potentially disasterous oversight of relative legislation. The child is viewed as the client, not the family. There is an imbalance of power that leaves the parents open to Human and Charter of Rights abuses that are not seen in any other area of Law. There needs to be protection of the most basic rights and fundamental freedoms for this area of law to be effective and serve the people as the laws were intended not how the laws can be manipulated. Reality, Society simply cannot have a Child, without a parent. Why bother teaching, upholding and protecting The Rights of the Child if we as a Society are simply going to remove those rights as the Childhood gives way to adulthood and than Naturally Parenthood.

  8. Today's post reinforces the sense that hospitals can be very dangerous places for families and children, since what is more dangerous than having your infant stolen from you?

    I used to think that it was the height of ignorance to have a baby in a non-hospital environment. But now parents have to weigh the risk: will their infant be apprehended, or will they suffer some medical emergency that requires them to give birth in the hospital? For some parents the risk of an apprehension is so great, having their baby in the hospital is the worst choice they could make.

    I don't blame parents for this choice, because who would ever think, even in the Bayne's case where the wolves have been lapping at their door for so long, that MCFD would have the audacity to steal their newborn, premature, breastfeeding infant, whisk him away, stuffed into a carseat that he is too small for, and "protect" him by getting into some kind of accident on the way, apparently to foster care?

  9. I agree with anonymous 10:13:I think more and more that in order to protect our kids from being snatched by gov't officials it is becoming the best choice to just stay low, "isolated" from their view and off their radar, by having home births and home schooling. Families have to be less "visible" to the authorities so they can't be tracked and oppressed.

  10. What I don't get is why exactly WAS the social worker even involved in the first place? Is that the new thing now, for them to intrude and interrogate every new mother who has a hospital birth? This is some scary stuff!

  11. To Anonymous March 14, 2011 10:13 AM

    In my view, hospitals are not dangerous places. The problem is the CFCSA that requires mandatory reporting if there is a reason to suspect child abuse, a very low threshold often abused by some whistle blowers and empowers child removal without due process of law and good evidence. This statute renders the whole Canada a dangerous place for parents with children under 19 to live.

    Child protection is nothing but a racket perverted by special interests to rip off taxpayers under the pretext of child protection. Most Canadians are ignorant or naively believe that removing children is an acceptable proposition. The racket is an impersonal system created by law and government policies. Those who run the system have very little control of the accepted modus operandi. If they don't go with the flow, they themselves will be destroyed. No one will risk their pay cheque to uphold justice.

    Even worse, those who believe that there are problems have no real solution to solve the problem. They reject the only real solution and remain divided. This racket will continue to haunt families for a very long time.

  12. What does the Liberal cabinet shuffle mean for the Bayne's campaign?

  13. To Anonymous March 14, 2011 9:35 AM

    You suggested that "anyone promoting anything in support of MCFD gets lambasted anyway and go find a SW and actually sit down and speak with them."

    Be mindful that:

    1. Only clients (ie. parents and children) are qualified to comment on the "services" they received, not service providers. Your suggestion to seek comments from SW, a prime service provider in the "child protection" industry, is an attempt to introduce misleading opinions in favor of MCFD. Can SW bite the hands that feed them? Is it likely that they criticize their own operation? Would you trust the manufacturer of a product or the product's consumer?

    2. I will be very surprised if MCFD permits SW to openly debate "child protection". Their business depends on secrecy, apathy of the people, faith blind and ignorance of the public. If you can find 5 or 6 or 10 SW ready to openly debate, please let me know as I want this opportunity badly to ask some questions.

    Regarding the Satanic comment, the most successful deception, as Satan itself has demonstrated, is to fool people to believe that the enemy does not exist or to make believe that bad is good. Residential schools are also under a child welfare banner and allegedly to protect children from their own parents. This cultural assimilation machine is now renounced. Has the oppression stopped yet? No. It recurs in a different form called "child protection" and extends oppression to all ethnic groups. Learn from history people.

  14. Provincial politics, out with the old, in with the new. Mary Polak is now the Minister of Aboriginal Relations. Interesting choice, appointing someone with no previous ministerial appointment to arguably, one of the most difficult ministry of the bunch. Families First! (Experience Second?)

    New MCFD Minister, Mary McNeil, is also the chair of the Families First Cabinet Committee (I note Mary Polak is not listed here to aid in any transition).

    BIO: Mary McNeil was appointed Minister of Children and Family Development on March 14, 2011. She was first elected as MLA for Vancouver‐False Creek in the 2009 election.

    Mary previously served as Minister for Citizen Services, Minister of State for the Olympics and ActNow BC.

    Before becoming an MLA, she served as president and CEO of the BC Cancer Foundation for eight years. Mary also served on the Vancouver Police Board for four years.

    Stephen Brown is the Deputy Minister. (He used to be deputy minister of Health.)

    It is interesting to note the BC College of Social Workers is listed under the category of major agencies, boards and commissions for MCFD, along with the only other organization, Provincial Child Care Council, but social workers are not required to register.

    Perhaps the first order of business is to ask why. Lets hope this will be on the plan.

    New Cabinet under Christy Clark (40 pages):

  15. To Anonymous March 14, 2011 10:05 AM – Legitimate observation that a glaring inadequacy is the number of protection workers who are no part of CASW. And protection of basic and huiman rights is a topic worth exploring.
    To Anonymous March 14, 2011 11:23 AM - The social worker's presence at the hospital was likely due as one commenter March 14, 2011 9:35 AM said, “Keep in mind this worker would have a supervisor who would need to approve any decision/recommendation....What was the MEDICAL staff telling this SW?” So I agree, it appears the concerns are medical, to a medical concern, rather than a random visit.
    To Anonymous March 14, 2011 11:31 AM – I just don't buy this often repeated rant, “Child protection is nothing but a racket perverted by special interests to rip off taxpayers under the pretext of child protection.” This is not the explanation for our complaints on this blog and it will not lead to solution. You are closer to the solution when you mentione CFCSA, and then we could begin to address why it has led to some of issues to which we speak.
    To Anonymous March 14, 2011 1:17 PM and the Cabinet Shuffle and what it might mean, actually Anon March 14, 2011 2:26 PM has some good comments to share.

  16. Ron I am glad to see that you took a well-deserved blog break on the weekend.
    Fairly recently I tried to interest the BCASW and the College to take an interest in the matter of the very flawed risk assessment outline. The BCASW director said that it was of little interest to them because none of their members worked for the children's ministry. The college said that it was not their job to specify standards of practice. How very, very jolly.
    Oh yes, I have talked to quite a lot of social workers in the last few years, mostly with a parent there. You would be surprised at how much nonsense an MSW can talk. I already mentioned how the social worker and lawyer were shockingly hostile, shouting and screaming at us. Another 30 year veteran supervisor told me---all in the space of one interview. 1. We don't follow the Act, we follow policy. 2.When I read out a specific section of the act, he said oh that is just your interpretation. 3. We only intervene in a custody matter if the father is a danger, but never when the mother is a danger. 4. A couple was charged by the police on evidence by the social worker. They pleaded not guilty and a hearing wss set nearly a year later. Meantime they were not allowed talk to their teenage kids "in order to protect the evidence." The case collapsed for lack of evidence eventually, so there was no evidence to protect. Meanwhile the social worker had persuaded the judge to postpone a protection hearing until after the criminal hearing. When I protested the long delay in getting it into court the social worker said that it was the parent's fault because they pled not guilty. Want me to go on and on and on and on?

  17. Hi Ron - I posted anon 9:35 (sorry, didn't bother with any kind of name) - you just posted at 3:35 that it was I who suggested there was medical concern? Well, how would I know? Your post states there was medical concerns, and since MCFD SW's don't just wander the hospital looking for child abuse (we can all assume!) it kind of goes without saying that hospital staff or someone linked with the family reported the concern. Then a decision would be based on medical information (ie, the mom was or was not following medical advice re: treatment)....which I realize is a very sensitive subject on this particular blog - understandably. This comment is only re: this specific post, and nothing to do with the Baynes.

    Someone asked why are not all SW's registered in BCASW? Well....why not ask BCASW that???

    Ray - wouldn't the delay in the court hearing be the courts' fault not the SW's?? Didn't know SW's determined when court rooms were available. You should not be suggested otherwise. You know better. I realize you were also commenting on the SW's initial decision, but you should not be blurring very separate lines.

  18. The social worker in my case was half my age, had less than two years of experience, no children, clearly very little life experience, not married, no partner, just a social work degree. The mentor/team leader had 30 years experience a family, but was worse. Sneaky buggers with moral compasses manufactured in the twilight zone.

    The original removing workers and original team leader slid out of the picture to distance themselves as potential witnesses. Right off the bat, five social workers were involved with evidence production. It sounds like the Baynes had three or four workers, and now a new one in Surrey.

    I can certainly echo Ray Ferris' accounting of the attempts by five out of six social workers I delt with to use bluff and bluster during meetings. Logic, reason, negotiation, compromise, simply were not in their vocabulary. It was posturing, "we are right, you are wrong, we are the parents not you, we are protecting your children from you." To me, it is clear systemic arrogance that appears to be universally to child protection work.

    It was a different story when I had some of these so-called social workers on the stand in Supreme Court and they had to answer my questions (I was representing myself).

    What a lot of people are not aware of is, if MCFD proceeds to court, knowingly having no evidence or they attempt to provide falsified evidence, you can file a cross application and minimally recover court costs - provided there is no finding of protection. To avoid this possibility is why social workers drag things out, to gather evidence and wear parents down so they eventually agree to a supervision order or interim custody extension.

    In Provincial Court, when the deck is stacked against parents even before they step into the courtroom, such as was with the Baynes, it is all you can do to hold on with your fingernails and hope you survive the ride. The nonsense we all witnessed in the Baynes case occurs on a daily basis throughout BC, and I hear in other Provinces as well.

    Child protection jokers do everything possible to stay out of a formal court setting where evidence must be produced. In the Baynes case, we could see front and center how the deck was stacked against these parents. That said, it is nice to see this family's experts did work to save them from the shaken baby diagnosis, even though the Judge did not give an ounce of credit to this effort when discounting the diagnosis.

    What should be clear is the age and experience of a social worker has absolutely no bearing in a courtroom setting. There is simply no reason for them to even need a social work degree or to be registered with the college.

    If there is a clear directive from the top to stay out of the courtroom, then the benefits of experience and registration with the college will benefit parents.

  19. Ron
    I like your list of "haunting cognitions", and I surely strive to keep similar thoughts in my own head when working with clients.

    One thing, however, I personally disagree with lumping the term 'client' in with 'case' or 'file'. Another commenter reminded us that the primary MCFD client is usually the child.

    I prefer to think of the parent as my client, but, as a practicum student, I work a lot with files where the Ministry is offering support services, or maybe only a referral.

    To me, my 'client' is my primary concern in case management. My job is to advocate for my client and to treat my client with dignity.

    To some, this may be semantics; to me, it's about professionalism, dignity, and the worth of persons.

  20. Speaking of semantics, I remember being shocked, but not so surprised to find out that the "client" that MCFD referred to as having committed suicide (re: the day the Bayne's court hearing was adjourned) was actually a parent. And I had to wonder how many other "clients" have also succumbed to such despair.


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