Thursday, July 21, 2011


What I am coming to believe is that many social workers do not know what is expected of them as they perform their work. Most of them have entered their careers with honourable intentions to help people, seniors, adults, children and families. Those social workers who choose to go into child protection are motivated to enable families and to protect children.

When case after case surfaces wherein the action of the social worker is challenged by parents and it becomes clear that such action is contestable because it flies in the face of reasonable, objective, social work practice, the guidance system has malfunctioned.

The Child, Family and Community Services Act has provided the guidance. It contains the rationale, justification for and procedures mandated for delivery of government social services to the province’s citizens. Some people argue the Act itself should be jettisoned or overhauled. I trust the experienced opinion of a few people whom I know who think this way. Nonetheless that is our guidance. The guidance system is operated by the staff that is required to make delivery of services according to the Act. Where, within this system is the malfunction occurring? It’s anyone’s guess at the moment. No one has done a suitable assessment recently. It’s been more than a decade since the last inquiry which resulted in scores of recommendations to improve the guidance system and delivery of social services. It has taken years to implement the recommendations and meanwhile we continue to have serious performance issues in the Ministry of Children and Family Development.

So it is the human element that is the cause for periodic malfunctions experienced by the guidance system that is used for day to day social work. And I am unconvinced that the front line case worker is the one to whom a finger should be predictably pointed. The Act is being interpreted by those who occupy positions up the chain, whether Team Leaders or eventually Directors. Social Workers have some latitude for personal decision making but they also receive orders. Directors apply their title to the various applications associated with child protection. They know case details, give approval to courses of action, and even issue instructions. The onus falls to the Directors to insure clean cases, no foul-ups, no miscues, no lapses of attention, no missed signs, and no dumb choices. To affect a stellar performance rating, the interpretation of the ACT is critical and if the interpretation is motivated by expediency and convenience, then injustices occur.

Taking Ayn Van Dyk from her father Derek Hoare was a Team decision. Social workers did not perpetrate that without approval. What is missing at the Team level? They knew that the removal would commit this child to months of foster or institutional care. They knew that this action would require court appearances, orders, court time, legal counsel, and the expenditure of tens of thousands of dollars. What is missing among Team members that they could not arrive at a plan of action that incorporated a thorough investigation of the child’s home situation, health and care; a gracious, collaborative relationship with Derek that might result in aid provided to him rather than a daughter taken from him? The Team has stepped away from the guidance and resorted to winging it. The system is flawed by humans who err in judgement and then defence kicks in and self-justification, and handy 'confidentiality' silence, and so we go. One family’s agony laid upon another family's horror until we have a mountain of irregularities created by the MCFD. Perhaps that is why social workers with the excellence tags leave after about two years with the MCFD. They can’t take it any more. Neither can we.


  1. I've always found it pointless to focus on various individuals' failings within an organization, simply because these are opportunistic individuals who have identified loopholes in the system they believe gives them license to ignore their training, common sense and compassion. That reveals their character.

    These opportunistic individuals reveal the flaws in the system that no one acts on to remedy. (At least I do not have evidence before me that suggests internal complaints of the system are regularly being made but we the unwashed public does not hear of them.)

    If there is high social worker turnover where the reasons are suspected to be incompatible outcomes (MCFD wants to retain, 'good' social workers want to reunite or avoid removals) then the first step is to follow-up on this suspicion and measure the problem.

    Performing exit interviews of all departing social workers might do it. Collect information, analze and make the information available for the public.

    I'm not quite satisfied with the Pivot reports that are funded by unions and other groups that have a vested interest in producing such studies that conclude lack of funding is the root cause. I am the opinion there is far too much money fed to the system in the first place, and is largely being wasted on foster care.

    A comment I find very relevant to Derek's situation can be found by the author of the original breaking story at:

    Why has the mainstream media such as The Province, The Sun, CBC not picked up this story?

    Where are these so-called checks and balances in the form of journalism that rise to question this particular removal of a special needs child that has angered thousands of individuals around the world?

    EVERY case of a decision of removal is done with the advance knowledge by 'teams' that tens of thousands of dollars and months, possible years of separation will result.

    The Act, especially with respect to timelines are ignored simply because it is possible to do so without consequence. How does one appeal a 5-minute first appearance, a 2-hour Presentation Hearing? The CFCSA has no enforcement clauses, or appeals on interim procedures, it is one sided in favour of the Director. Each Province has a variation of the same thing, and this in turn is a copy of what has been implemented in other western countries.

    The word "protect" is at the center of this controversy. What, exactly, is Ayn being 'protected' from, if not her father? Why are the remaining two siblings considered adequately protected, but the third child is not? Why is a child being held in hospital, drug The oldest child child has a more severe form of autism, so how come he does not receive the 'benefit' of poweful drugs, removal from school, and placement in a hospital.

    Any is being kept from her school, family and community? By what measure is this 'better?' This is clearly discrimination.

    When you start asking some very simple core questions such as what is the definition of 'protection,' why the state decided that protection with removal was preferable to the variety of other brands of 'protection' such as offering in-home services, why certain media groups are conspicuously not covering this story, then maybe we will get somewhere.

  2. I am on your page Anon,
    You have written your comment incisively and clearly. Yes, yes and yes to all you have said or questioned.


    An aptly named political party. Canaries are used in mines, so if they die, it is an early warning to the minors the air is unsafe. Conversely, maladies of any conceivable origin or level of obscurity are named, no matter how minor, then resources are allocated to identify and treat it. The idea is that invasive action by the state or large institutions supercedes choice of the individual to reject remedies.


I encourage your comments using this filter.
1. Write politely with a sincere statement, valid question, justifiable comment.
2. Engage with the blog post or a previous comment whether you agree or disagree.
3. Avoid hate, profanity, name calling, character attack, slander and threats, particularly when using specific names.
4. Do not advertise