QUESTIONS THAT CHILD PROTECTION SOCIAL WORKERS SHOULD HAVE ASKED THEMSELVES WHEN RESPONDING TO AYN’S 3 HR. DAY TRIP.
(On June 12, 2011 Ayn Van Dyk climbed out of her fenced yard and was gone for 3 hours. She was found by police and returned to her dad who had called 911. On June 16, CP workers took Ayn from her school & then told her father, the primary care-giver. Ayn is autistic, as is one of her two brothers, whom she has not seen for five months)
Sincere CP social workers are not unaware of the criticism directed at them by parents and other observers when children are removed from parental homes for reasons that appear insubstantial and unjustified. This note is directed to them, that is, sincere CP social workers. They are the altruists who desire to conduct appropriate protection and family support. The challenge comes when directives from their superiors suggest that in the interest of the child, ask questions later but act first. So a child is removed and the process of inquiry is so prolonged that relationships between social worker and parent cannot help but become strained and unproductive.
While not original with me, I cannot identify the source of this social science suggestion. Four sensible questions are cited here that a social worker should ask himself or herself.
1. “What is my distinctive role in this child's life? Put another way, why am I here?” The social worker has a distinct aptitude, role and responsibility that are different from that of the police officer or teacher or doctor. These other people with specific skill sets and professions are not social workers. “Why am I involved in this case?”
2. “What am I observing and to what am I listening as I monitor this case, this family, and the interplay of family members? What can I smell or perceive that may call for a possible assessment and inform that assessment. What dangers are apparent or what hygiene issues meet my eye?”
3. “Are there other social workers who have been involved in this case? If there were some others, what were their observations and what do the case files already indicate? Can other social workers assist my understanding with relevant information?”
4. “If I decide that there is cause for concern in this case, what are the things that I believe require change in order to relieve the concern? What action plan transparent to all the adults involved, can result in the best outcome and what time frame is best?”
I am speaking about the child protection specific to British Columbia, Canada when I say that the evidence reveals that there are at risk children are genuinely safer now than they were in their family homes. However, the Ministry of Children and Family Development is repeatedly under attack for evident malfunctions in their system, when at risk children are not removed in time to save them from their threat, or when within the care of the Ministry some danger ensues. While the Ministry professes to believe that the biological family is the best context for a child, there are occasions such as Ayn’s which disregard that principle. Social workers responding to this report of a wandering child came to Derek (Ayn’s daddy) the day after the day-trip, but they came not to ask questions as much as to deliver an already prepared voluntary consent form for Derek to sign, giving MCFD custody of his child. They may not have asked questions 1 and 4. As per questions 2 and 3, they may have consulted files on the family, and they may have heard Derek’s irate response to their suggestion that he release her to them. They did not however, in my estimation, ask the harder questions, such as what was the unique purpose for them with their skill set so different from police, to be involved with this family? And then, what can we accomplish by sitting together with Derek for however long it takes to work out an action plan that satisfies us and him that Ayn is adequately protected within his custody and care?
To have taken Ayn so hastily and to have removed her from the family that loves her, and to have failed and refused to return her now for over five months, is patently abhorrent and a collapse of social work ethics. Social workers know the tardiness of the process of a child in care, so don’t place the child there. Work with the family while leaving it intact. This little girl was entirely loved and cared for and nurtured and protected at home, perhaps with a greater devotion than the majority of society’s families without autistic children.
Derek Hoare / 778-240-6373 / Facebook: justiceforayn.com
Derek's email: email@example.com
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PLEA FOR AYN: http://on.fb.me/pUnuk0
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