Saturday, December 31, 2011


Happy New Year

“Happy New Year” slips off the lips spontaneously and wishfully and with varying degrees of sincerity. It is exchanged between family members, close friends, neighbours, customers and shopkeepers, and strangers. It can be simply a seasonal courtesy as much as a genuine desire for the other person. Perhaps the level of authenticity in this greeting is determined by how well you know the recipient, how much you care for the person, how earnestly you yearn for the next year to be a year full of happiness for the receiver. But that’s too much to consider when simply saying the equivalent of an ‘hello.’

“Happy New Year Derek.”

I wonder how that sounds to Derek. Like the rest of us, he may not reflect upon it, because his almost involuntary response may be to return, “and Happy New Year to you.” There is no reflective time within the exchange itself, and then the conversation veers off to something else or life’s duties demand attention. “Happy New Year,” is mere rhetoric, a gesture of good manners, of friendliness and of good business.

For the expression to actually be more than this, perhaps the speaker must know the recipient’s story, the history of the past year, the challenges to be faced in the new year. Perhaps the speaker must empathize with the recipient’s losses, broken heart, feeling of helplessness, bottomless agony. Perhaps the speaker must informatively speculate what will be required in the new year to turn life around so convincingly that happiness is the lasting and unmistakable result.

And that is what this blog has been seeking to do, to lay a groundwork of understanding of what Derek and his daughter Ayn have experienced in 2011, and what they face in 2012, and what it will take as the clock strikes one second past midnight to turn their world around, so that the darkness dissolves as the dawn of a new day shines. That is what the groundswell of over 4000 empathizers understand as they regularly update themselves on Ayn’s Facebook pages (1 Help Bring Little Autistic Girl back to Daddy) and (2 Justice for Ayn), and plan various events and campaign efforts and even pray to God to gain her release from the Ministry of Children and Family Development foster care and her return to her father and her family.

We know of what a happy new year consists for Derek.

With utmost sincerity, I join the crowd of kindhearted advocates for Ayn’s return to Derek’s arms, in saying,


Friday, December 30, 2011


Ayn with some stuffed toys
An autistic child knows where he or she wants to go but lacks the words to tell you, so often simply takes off. A child like Ayn with this developmental disorder, a severe form of autism, has difficulty communicating and socializing. A dangerous aspect of autism is the tendency to run away from home or adult supervision. It causes endless stress for parents. And in Derek Hoare’s case, it has caused the removal of his daughter Ayn from his home and custody.

The MCFD employees that have taken her believe they have done something in the child’s best interest, but the action has simply created the most unnecessary and vicious wounds to a fragile mind and psyche.

Thursday, December 29, 2011


A petition by advocates for a 10 year old girl's return to her family cannot affect that transfer of custody. It can however demonstrate the strength of public conviction that the apprehension and foster care of this child was ill advised and inappropriate. Within hours now the goal of 5000 signatures will have been reached. Almost 5000 people believe that Ayn, the ten-year old autistic daughter of Derek Hoare and Amie Van Dyk should not have been removed from parental care on the 16th of June 2011, and given that she was removed, she should have been returned to parental care much sooner than the six months, the 196 days that she has been in government care.

I am asking you to sign this petition. I want you to sign it. I am not the sponsor but merely a supporter of this child's return to normalcy. The petition as of this posting requires 48 more signatures to reach 5000.  Here is the link to the petition site, HELP BRING AYN VAN DYK HOME.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


In reverse order of appearance this list of links is appropriate for the period, of June to December 2011. Ayn has been in government authorized foster care since June 16, 2011. An absurdly unreasonable decision by the Ministry of Children (MCFD). This girl is 10 years old, autistic and should be at home with her family. Wandering away for a couple of hours is not a crime nor is not seeing her climb a fence indicative of punitive negligence. This child did not and does not require government protection. 
  August (25)
  July (30)
  June (24)

Tuesday, December 27, 2011


Ayn's case management is clearly out of focus
Derek Hoare is the father of all three children. He is still the primary parental caregiver to his two sons and before the June 16, 2011 apprehension of his daughter Ayn, he was her principal caregiver as well. These are Derek’s and Amie’s children. Derek and Amie are no longer together, and in their settlement Amie agreed that Derek should have custody of the children. Derek is a stay-at-home father. Mother and father also agreed that Ayn’s surname shall be her mother’s maiden name.

Was Ayn Van Dyk removed from her father’s active care because he was negligent in his care of her?
Was the standard of care customarily expected from a responsible parent violated?
Is there any breach of parental trust that is measurable enough to warrant her removal from her family and her subsequent foster care for the past 200 days?

If the front-line social workers employed by the B.C. Ministry of Children and Family Development and who were charged with the responsibility of responding to a June 12, 2011 incident deemed that the answer to the above questions was ‘Yes,’ then their casework should be called into question.

Monday, December 26, 2011


Derek Hoare is the father of three children, two of whom are affected by autism. Ayn is his youngest and she is now in foster care. On June 16th 2011 she was removed from her school and then Derek was informed. Workers from the Ministry of Children arbitrarily concluded Derek was struggling to manage the responsibilities. As an advocate for this family, I believe that evidence will not support this conclusion, and will further call into question the wisdom and competence of front-line workers as well as the policy and structure of our monolithic child protection agency. Today is Boxing Day. Yesterday, Derek wrote this piece.
"I'm sure it goes without saying that I have been hurting over these holidays... my boys have been hurting, my ex has been hurting, the family is hurting. I do hope Ayn was able to find some happiness today, I hope she was sufficiently distracted to recall the nightmare she is trapped within. I cannot, in fact I would not forget even if I could. I need to know this feeling. Each Christmas around the world people gather together for gift giving and great meals. They tell stories, share laughter and embrace those they hold dearest. These are days I do not get back.... ever. I can and will be having great celebrations upon Ayn's return however these days are gone...nearly 200 now.

On its face it would seem that the worst thing about this is having your child taken but it isn't. The worst thing is being powerless to get the child back. It is indifference that is shown by this powerful bureaucracy and how it disregards care and logic to prefer policy and salaries. There is no reason for keeping this girl from her family, but MCFD doesn’t care. Child Protection has her and this is simply MCFD’s function so its performs it. To MCFD social workers, this is just how it is. They feign kindness and they feign caring, but the reality is they do not even know Ayn. They do not even care to know her. How is it they can then claim to know what is best?

Child Protection Services is not a person. It is a faceless abstract created by us, the people whom it supposed to serve. We create and fund an entity like this under the notion that children need to be protected, but that is where it ends for most of us, with a notion. We do not read the laws. We do not learn the policies. We do not examine audits. In short we do not take the time to see if it is working. We rest on the assumption that because its purpose was pure and its function is good that everything must be okay. Well it’s not okay!

If I could give people anything this Christmas it would be courage to change these things. I don't think people ever imagined what would happen if this institution that we created to protect children, became so bureaucratic and policy-driven that it did not take the time to thoughtfully examine what might truly be best for a family. MCFD gets in excess of $1,000,000 000 dollars a year here in BC, (Yes one billion).... they MCFD has still never bothered to determine how my daughter behaved in the home, scarcely a question to that effect. Do we understand what that means when an organization so powerful can remove children without even having to consider how the child was in the family home? Yet MCFD continues to be funded and we continue to look away, seeking comfort in the original notion that children need to be protected.

I still have two children and now I have the knowledge that there exists this institution which can march in and kidnap your child at the whim of someone who does not even know you. This is not something that sits well with me. When MCFD took my daughter I didn't know what to do.  I only knew that it was wrong. I love my children and would never harm them.  I have sought to learn the most I can about their disability and to try to understand them and how best to treat them, but child protection workers still took her anyway. They did not spend an hour of thought on my daughter or my family but felt that they had the authority to do us. I am fairly certain that they cannot keep her forever, but that may simply be me turning to another societal institution and its underlying notion upon which it was founded... Justice.

On this Christmas Day I hope everyone holds their loved ones closely and focuses on the happiness which they can bring to one another. I have spent the past few days giving some much needed attention to my boys Wyatt and Lyric, whom I would like to thank so much and to let everyone know how proud I am of them. They have both shown such great strength and character in the midst of all this strife. And to all of you who have supported me throughout this, I know I have thanked you all so many times and I do not want it to lose its lustre but please know that it has meant so much to me in this battle that there are others still out there for whom child protection is more than just a notion. That you all can put a face on these children and take some of your time to help fight for them is a wonderful thing... and hopefully it means that we as a people have not reached a point of apathy where we will sit idly by as noble concepts get ripped to shreds.

Please have a Merry Christmas everyone. Do not lament in my sadness but rather find in it a reason to share your joys and loves with others whom you find worthy of it. Cherish them and each moment you have together. Time is fleeting but our love does not have to be fleeting. Thank you so much everyone, enjoy your holidays. I am going to go and hug my boys and look at pictures of my baby girl."

Sunday, December 25, 2011


I trust that you have awoken to a day of joy and gratitude. May all of the happiness customarily associated with this day be yours. And I trust that Derek Hoare and his boys are able to enjoy the day, even though he grieves the absence of his little girl as she remains in the custody of government child care, for reasons not entirely disclosed to him.

Saturday, December 24, 2011


A Tricia Romance painting
She paints in watercolor
lives in Niagara on the Lake, Ontario
a place I know well.
Her originals have been popularized
by thousands of prints
adorning canvases, posters and dishes.
She illustrates themes akin to Norman Rockwell
and an entire career has chronicled the childhoods
of her own children now grown.
A believer in the Christ child
she has captured warmth and pleasure of a family 
on Christmas Eve. 

May you and your loved ones enjoy
the love of personal relationships as well as the reminder
that it was for all of us that Jesus came that first time.

Perhaps pray for Derek Hoare and his two boys whose
Christmas is tempered by sadness
since his daughter Ayn is still not at home
but with the Ministry of Children - UNJUST!

Friday, December 23, 2011


Merry Christmas my Friends
I trust you will have a safe and happy holiday.
Don't forget to pray for Ayn Van Dyk and her daddy Derek and her mom Amie, and her two brothers.
The family is spending Christmas without her in their home.

Thursday, December 22, 2011


Parents of an autistic child know that the long lines, pulsating and twinkling lights and loud noises can be overwhelming for their child – even unbearable. If you haven’t heard of this before, this should gladden your spirit at Christmas. I found a story about a sensory-friendly Santa Claus event. articles on autism. The event was sponsored by the Lawyer’s Autism Awareness Foundation in Tampa, Florida. Two Hillsborough County circuit court judges traded off playing the role of the patient jolly man in red. No twinkling lights or loud music were used in ensure that children were comfortable. Appointments were scheduled to ensure each child had one-on-one time with Santa without having to wait in long lines. What a great holiday story! Perhaps a bit late for this year, but I think some of you can make this happen in your locality next year.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


by Ray Ferris

In today’s post, my friend Ray Ferris offers a cautionary and common sense glance at Autism. You may concur with his observations or you may challenge an aspect of the piece. Leave a comment.

“Derek Hoare rightly reminded us the other day that there is no precise definition of autism. It is a description of a spectrum of symptoms, which may have a number of possible causes. Most of the suggested causes are speculative. In the field of autism, as with many other areas of psychology, there are numerous experts with special theories. There are numerous experts who have their own special theories about how to treat autism. So we find that we are in a subjective and speculative minefield, which can completely confuse the parents of a child who has been labelled autistic. Thus it is important to know what we can really rely on and what we cannot.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


James Wenzel logo designer
There will have to be a change in casework practice within the Ministry of Children and Family Development in B.C.

I cannot comprehend why resourcing help to families is such a difficult concept to affect. Many families that  could be helped never receive help.  Of course I do not understand all of the human dynamics of individual cases. I cannot know the stresses that social workers feel when working with adults and parents who are challenged by habits, substances, and life. I do not understand how budgetary cuts have reduced the availability of services. Yet those issues do not ultimately account for what I have been learning in recent years.

Monday, December 19, 2011


The social worker assigned to Derek's and Ayn's case is on a leave of absence for an undetermined period of time. The case has been reassigned to a new case worker for whom the learning curve on the relevant information will be steep. Derek was informed that he would have opportunity to communicate with the social worker's superior who is familiar with the details of Ayn's case. Derek is eager for this because he desires to emphasize to MCFD how important it is to value all that has been accomplished within the past six months of client/social worker interchange.

When Derek invited his Facebook supporters to proffer him counsel about what to say to this superior, many of  us responded but we had misunderstood. We thought he already had an scheduled appointment, so we spoke accordingly. We have learned since offering the advice that he was simply sending an email request for an appointment and wanted some wise guidance about that request content. What you will read below from contributors speak to that understanding. Then I offer some ideas from that same misinterpretation but I believe there is value in what I and the others have said.

Sunday, December 18, 2011


If you have some time, watch Ayn Van Dyk's story. Six months in the care of the government children's ministry, and even this past week as she celebrated her tenth birthday, she was not with her family, her mom and dad, her two brothers. Her dad's name is Derek. Derek's sister made this video in July 2011 when this ordeal was still young. She wrote, "This is a home made video dedicated to my brother Derek Hoare. He needs to know he is not alone anymore. I own nothing to the song, and the video content was shot by me. Any graphics are mine."

Supporters in the thousands celebrated Ayn's birthday all over the world. In this video from Niagara Falls some of Ayn's friends who have heard about her online, launched balloons in honour of her. 

Saturday, December 17, 2011

WORK TO RULE & the Ministry of Children

Today's post was written by Ray Ferris.
"What does that phrase mean? Does it mean to work while strictly obeying all the rules, or does it mean to work in order to rule other people. Well, let me explain how it means both.

When people want to take job action in order to put pressure on an employer, there are various things they can do. There are numerous forms of striking. One can have rotating strikes or full time strikes. There is also a very effective method known as working to rule. A lot of organizations have multiple layers of bureaucracy and nothing can get done without lots of signing and countersigning. These organizations can only function because people learn to work around the rules. There is a lot of rubber stamping and signing of approvals after the fact.

Friday, December 16, 2011


For some time a large team of international supporters of Ayn Van Dyk have been advocating for her release from the care of the Ministry of Children and Family Development because we believe that this autistic 10 year old should be at home with her father and her two brothers. We believe that her removal was unnecessary and reactive and uninformed. We believe that having separated her from the father she loves for six months now is not in her best interests. Some weeks ago we articulated our message in several languages (English, Chinese, Italian, French, Polish, German) and these are available and being broadcasted.  THIS IS NOT JUSTICE

Thursday, December 15, 2011


Listen! We all understand life and business. Sometime employees are reassigned and replaced. Sometimes personal life events require time off. So in one sense it is not surprising to learn that the Ministry social worker to whom the Ayn Van Dyk case was allocated, is off the case and a different social worker has now got the file. Of course he or she doesn’t merely have Ayn’s case with which to become familiar, but several others, perhaps many more cases. That sounds daunting. It also generates concern for parents that the resolution of their cases will be unsettled and delayed. There is apprehension that the mediation already accomplished will be misunderstood, forgotten or dismissed. That is certainly some of the unease with which Derek Hoare has been left after recent phone calls.

On Tuesday Derek said, “Well I just got off the phone with the new SW for the first time.... interesting to say the least. They would not comment on the length of absence to be expected. We seem to be looking at a very steep learning curve ahead for this worker. They are going to read the file, but as of yet seem largely unaware of where we are at in our dialog.”

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


Happy 10th Birthday Ayn

We want this to be a very happy day for you Ayn. We know this birthday is different from the other nine that you have had. Perhaps your birthday will be something like this. 

Ayn's Birthday Balloon

It is the morning of Ayn's tenth birthday. She is not at her home. She is at the friends' house. The house where she has been staying since Little Ayn was taken away from her daddy. Ayn's biggest birthday wish is that she can go home. 

Today, there are lots of balloons that help Ayn celebrate her special day. One of the floating balloons has a large string which Ayn grabs. As she holds it, the balloon becomes larger, and larger and larger. As it grows, it seems to be tugging her off the ground. First, she is standing on tippy toes and then she is lifting from the ground. 

Up, up she floats, slowly and higher. And the little breeze blows Ayn and her balloon over houses and trees and playgrounds. The balloon seems to know where it is going. She loves this ride. Up, up and onward, forward she moves. Then, as she looks down, she sees familiar things, and look! There is her house. She can see it. She can see the back yard. She can see her play house. 

And now the balloon is getting a wee bit smaller and she is coming down so slowly, and it looks like she is coming down from the sky right by her daddy's house. 
Who is that? Someone came through the front door. That's daddy, "Daddy, daddy, daddy" Ayn calls. He calls back, "Hi baby! Look at you. You are amazing." 

Then she is on the ground, and daddy comes rushing toward her, and as he does Lyric and Wyatt are running toward her too, so happy to see her.  Daddy scoops Ayn up into his arms and hugs her so gladly, and they are all screaming with delight. It's the best group hug of their lives. And guess what! Ayn got her birthday wish. She is at home. Happy Birthday Ayn.  The end.

Addendum:   With a piece of fiction, the writer can end it wherever  he chooses. In real life, MCFD would come and apprehend her again. That sounds like fiction. But it's not. One would think that Ayn was an escaped prisoner and that her daddy is a bad man who has done something very wrong. She isn't and he isn't. But that's the condition with which they are living, and all of it created by an agency of their own government.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


Ideally Blue stands for Parent, yellow stands for Social Worker, and red stands for Director. Information freely flows between them as they work to solution. But there is something wrong with that picture. It wasn't accurate to the Baynes' story, or to many others as well. I followed that one and rejoiced when in August 2011 the family of six were reunited permanently after four years of separation. Their story is an intolerable string of injustices.

Like the Baynes, what I learn from Derek Hoare and other parents like him is that at every stage that their child is in the protection process with MCFD, the parents are repeatedly deprived of basic information. That should strike you as discourtesy, irresponsibility and offense. That is certainly contradictory to the (CFCSA) Child, Family and Community Services Act intention and prescription because it is essential that the concerns of the Ministry be communicated in order for the parents to improve their situation so they can get their child back home. Derek can go weeks without an update about Ayn. Does He ask? I don't know. Should he have to? Hasn't the SW promised a regular report? Yes. Now his SW is off until June, and a replacement has been assigned. So how will the information be shared?

Monday, December 12, 2011


Today I have posted a letter written by Ray Ferris. He has given me permission to publish it. This has been directed last week to the people named below. Ray is an unapologetic critic of the MCFD mistakes. Ray is the author of 'The Art of Child Protection'. You can purchase it from him by writing to

From: Ray Ferris
Sent: Thursday, December 08, 2011 1:34 PM
To: Mary McNeill ; Claire Trevena ; nicholas simons ; maurine Kargianis ; stephen Brown
Subject: Ayn Van Dyk

Sunday, December 11, 2011


If you want to know what a Parental Capacity Assessment is, today's blog post is written by Ray Ferris. Ray had career of 31 years service in child welfare and protection as a social worker and district supervisor and family court coordinator. Ray is the author of 'The Art of Child Protection'. You can purchase it from him by writing to

"Parental capacity assessments are essentially a method of making an inventory of the life skills of parents. PCAs are similar to Risk Assessments and the main difference is the starting point of each assessment. A risk assessment usually starts with a perceived risk and then assesses the strengths of a parent to resolve that risk. A parental capacity assessment is principally geared to assessing the historical and current functioning of a family in order to provide a profile. This past and present profile is then used to assess the likelihood of future risk. Some types of risk cannot be assessed properly without considering profile.

Saturday, December 10, 2011


If the Ministry is concerned to know Derek Hoare's capacity to parent three children, why not within a five month period state that? Make that happen. What is so fundamentally wrong with the people engaged in this work that the obvious is not apparent?

If you were participating in a parental capacity assessment, would you know what to expect? Have you already been through one of these?

There are several components to an assessment but certainly the elemental interview will subject you to a series of questions which can either appear conventional and non-threatening or if you are nervous to entrust your future to the psychologist who administers the test, they will be unsettling and worrisome.

The psychologist engaged by Child Protection may not develop the questions unilaterally but often a case worker or a team of child protection case workers suggests the questions for which they want to have answers. The parents are customarily presented with these questions in advance of the meeting with the psychologist. If you have had a PCA done, do these questions reflect your experience?

Friday, December 9, 2011


Over some time a transformation of democratic freedom has occurred so that enforced compliance to bureaucratic rules and codes is the obligation.

We should be deeply concerned with the actions of B.C.’s child protection services and other similar international agencies about which we read. Citizens need to be heard. They need a voice. There must be a forum, an audience that will listen to the heart cries of thousands of British Columbia’s population. Perhaps the citizens themselves must organize a conference to which news media are particularly invited. And if we move in this direction, we should know what brought us here.

Thursday, December 8, 2011


Derek Hoare talked out loud this morning. He shared his feelings. Deep, deep feelings. His girl is gone. Her birthday is six days away. Christmas is around the veritable corner and Ayn, his nine year old, soon to be TEN, sweetheart is not at home. He has not seen her for over five months, and that’s another story which if you want to read it, it’s here. But today, just hear him.
“I miss her so much, not sure why these past few days have been so emotional, nothing seems to set it off in particular... just washes over you. Or more like it begins in your chest as tightness and then diffuses throughout you. Comes and goes... and off to a terrible start today.... dreamt of her again, woke very upset, took 10 minutes just to write this.”

“And why is it that when we are upset, instinctually we hold our breath, or stop breathing.... and then proceed to gasp when we can.”

“I still hear her voice and I can close my eyes and see her.... this is just a nightmare.”

“Gonna be a rough day.”

“It hurts like it was yesterday.”


“Weird, I don't really know why it is so potent now either, I think it is because now with the proposal out of the way I have time in front of me, and can see the time behind me, and it is so terrible.... I just miss her so much. And when I am busy doing things to get her home it is like I am with her or distracted or something, and now there is just a void filled with pain.”

NOTE: Ayn is autistic. On June 12th she left her back yard and went down the street. Derek couldn’t find her. Police were called and found her three hours later. Although she was happily returned to him that day, on June 16th, social workers removed her from her school and then notified Derek. Ayn was assessed, prescribed anti-psychotic drugs to which she is not accustomed, and was eventually placed with foster parents. She cried for the first eighteen days until she was given a photo of her daddy. Can you appreciate what that does to a father? He has two sons as well, one of whom is also autistic. The Ministry did not remove Ayn due to neglect or abuse or any other defensible reason. One social worker intimated the removal was to ease Derek’s load. Okay, how’s that working for him. You heard him above. Derek Hoare’s burden is one thousand times heavier because of the intervention by a protection agency in British Columbia that concentrates in incompetence. It retains employees who possess modest aptitude for distinguishing what is correct, suitable, honorable and true. Policy permits them to blunder with lives without apology, without timely treatment, without regard for universally understood “best interest.” With this kind of workmanship, it will always be a rough day for some children and parents in this province. Secrecy and unaccountability does not serve citizens well.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


2007 Album Cover by group 'Without Grace'
Ayn was removed from her father and her home over five months ago. Ostensibly this will have been to observe her. The precipitating cause of this government child welfare action was her three hour unescorted daytrip on June 12th when her father lost touch with her. He was concerned. She had climbed over the fence in the family back yard. She was exploring. Children do that. Autistic children do that. Ayn is autistic. It’s somewhat more difficult to reinforce understanding of potential harm and cooperation with parental authority with an autistic child. Ayn’s exploration took down the street to a neighbour’s yard where she was found playing. She was returned to her father that day.

The Ministry of Children flagged this case. Due diligence would have uncovered a typical litany of episodes and challenges of bizarre behaviour and outburst as well as a record of charming conduct and loving moments. Due diligence would have revealed the primary care of a father, Derek, as dedicated, attentive, systematic and loving. The results of this due diligence would unsurprisingly be confidence in Derek’s parenting skills and a commitment to return Ayn to him in her best interests. How long does a due diligence assessment take? Certainly not five months. Furthermore, whatever paltry assessment was done on Ayn in the initial days of her incarceration, it was sufficient in the estimation of medical professionals associated with her care to justify the prescription of a recipe of anti-psychotic drugs to render her placid. A docile child is manageable and that was especially necessary when the principle calming agent, her father, was withheld from her.

What the Ministry created on the 16th day of June was a basket case child because she cried for eighteen straight days. Then this disgusting excuse for a government care agency requested from Derek, a photo of himself with Ayn so that she could be comforted - BINGO! Wouldn’t that inform intelligent, well trained, perceptive, altruistically-spirited social workers? Of course! So what have we serving the needs of children arbitrarily removed from parents? Something less than appropriate. Something flawed at its heart. Something populated by social workers who cannot break free from the restraints of bureaucratic and judicial shackles in order to be humane. Something administered by well paid bureaucrats who become deaf to the cries of the camps of parental refugees on this democratic continent, and who become sight impaired so they cannot distinguish between true and misleading cases of abuse and neglect.

Ayn is only one of the many cases in which the Ministry of Children and Family Development has erred and failed to acknowledge the error in judgement but subjected children and parents to treatment we all find reprehensible, as would some of the social workers were they on this side of the fence looking over. It is no wonder that we have lost faith in a system that cannot respond with grace.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


During the past 10 years, an average of 271 children in government care have been adopted annually in B.C. Many are of school age and many are siblings who should stay together. The Government of British Columbia proclaimed November as Adoption Awareness Month. The hope is to raise awareness about children in care who are waiting for adoptive homes, and also to recognize adoption as a valued way to build a family. Perhaps you know children whose parents perished in some unfortunate way or who were incapable of caring for their children, and therefore you see the worth of an adoptive family. I do. However, I have a hefty concern about Directors with the Ministry of Children and Family Development who pursue permanent care of children when to reasonable and informed people this seems absurdly excessive and unambiguously mistaken.

Monday, December 5, 2011


What a marvelous smile Ayn has
Within ten days, the world will celebrate Ayn Van Dyk’s TENTH birthday. I did say the world. International friends and advocates from numerous continents and countries and climates will be honouring Ayn with customized birthday merriment. There will be balloons and music and decorations and cake and candles and videos and website and blog entries and letters and cards with thousands of congratulatory expressions.

That’s right! The Facebook page called Help Bring little Autistic girl back to her daddy contains the moment by  moment interactions of almost 5000 people whose heart has responded to the injustice meted out to this little girl when she was nine years old. It was on June 16th 2011 that the Ministry of Children and Family Development in B.C. took her from her school and then informed her father Derek that they had her in their custody. That was to be viewed as in her best interests and brazenly Derek was to consider this the Ministry’s proactive step to relieve him of burden because he was seen as overwhelmed. 

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Ethical Issues in Child Protection

The management of child protection concerns arouses strong emotions and controversies and creates ethical tensions for everyone concerned.

The ethical and legal duties of health-care professionals and law enforcement personnel and educators are to act in the best interests of the child by safeguarding children and reporting concerns. However, almost always this will involve conflicts with parents and produce reluctance among some professionals to become involved in the process, especially controversial situations. Of course this reluctance is met with mandatory reporting here in British Columbia and that compels people to overcome their reluctance. One wonders at times how effective such a compulsory reporting mandate is in the face of diagnostic uncertainties or social and family reservations. Assembly of a stronger evidence base should be seen as ethically justified, but the law requires reporting of a mere suspicion or a concern. This becomes ethically and morally problematic because suspicion, concern, and even a comprehensive evidence base involve value judgements. People compelled to report are not always competent to properly assess a situation. The result is too often, unjustified and vexatious complaints. I truly believe that in Ayn Van Dyk’s case, the signs were misjudged, the indicators were insufficient for taking her away from her father, whether to assess her health, or her conduct or her father’s management skill as a dad.

If Ayn’s case is indicative of current approaches to child protection then they may neither promote greater understanding nor be in the best interests of children. I am convinced that child protection in British Columbia requires a revised social contract, a new policy to dictate practice. Then the effective protection of children could include: a duty of care that adequately addresses the primacy of the child's welfare; the acquisition of a sound evidence base; Ministry of Children and medical, law enforcement and education professional transparency and accountability; suitable protection from malicious and vexatious complaints; and a shift emphasis towards a more inquiring system that embraced the principles of truth and reconciliation.

Saturday, December 3, 2011


Which is easier?
1) To medicate an autistic child
2) To physically restrain an autistic child
3) To pay $200 per hour to a therapist to talk an autistic child through problems.

Guess which option MCFD has used with Ayn Van Dyk?

Because it is prescribed to them, children in foster care are more likely to take multiple antipsychotic medications for longer periods of time than any other group of children. These types of medications include stimulants, antidepressants and mood stabilizers. Taking multiple antipsychotics is not generally considered standard medical practice for children. But that doesn’t appear to give medical practitioners connected with MCFD pause for reflection. A greater number of children with physical, mental and developmental problems are being placed in foster care and are already on the medications. And what if the drugs are used "off-label," that is, for purposes other than those for which they have been approved? Is that happening?


Identifying neglect or negligence and assessing risk is a multifaceted procedure. Seldom can social workers establish negligence in the care of a child based upon a single incident or event. Incidents with respect to an autistic child should be deemed an even greater challenge to assessing whether a parent is providing adequate care.

Proper procedure assumes that social workers will assemble a picture of the family as the context for understanding a specific incident. That picture will require conversations and information from numerous sources such as relatives, friends and neighbours and professionals. Always such information will anticipate variable degrees of reliability and yet social workers are expected to make judgements and then to act concerning the welfare of children in these cases. Sometimes they must act quickly.

Friday, December 2, 2011


I am a grandfather of five, three boys and two girls. The oldest girl is eleven and her two brothers are nine and seven. Their cousins are a boy soon to be seven, and a girl who is four. The four year old comes to our home twice each week so her mom can go to work for those days. I hug each child when we see one another. They permit me to do that, and they seem to enjoy the caress of attentive love. That littlest one, four years old is at a rewarding stage for me. She loves to be cuddled. She curls on my lap and snuggles. We look into one another’s eyes and call each other outlandish funny names. We play eye spy with my little eye. We paint, we read, we watch cartoons. And she may sit for hours on the floor with a doll house and a castle of plastic and little synthetic people and carry on true to life conversations, until she says something out of character like, “just get on with it.” To which I have said, “Did you just say “Get on with it” and she has replied, “No she did,” her finger pointing to one of the little people.

Ayn at play
Derek must long to wrap his arms around his girl, to see her eyes, and the soft smile on her lips, to hear her laugh, to hear the sound of her voice.” He must miss the touch of her skin. The physical longing for his own daughter of the same substance as himself must at times be unbearable.

Thursday, December 1, 2011


Roadside Check
Now we have something to discuss. What did B.C.’s tough drinking laws and the Ministry’s removal of Ayn Van Dyk from her father have in common? I understand these are not identical issues, not nearly. There are however, commonalities which beg some serious questions. I believe it is a commendable objective to rid our roads of drunk drivers. I also believe that it is laudable to protect children and ensure their security. I sympathize with everyone who has been injured or grieved by someone’s decision to drive while drunk. I am saddened by every incident of parental rage or addiction or neglect that has caused damage or death to a child.

Furthermore, I can understand the complaint of a driver who although unimpaired, has nonetheless failed a roadside screening test and without any opportunity for appealing or countering the judgment, has been tried and sentenced on the road where he was stopped. And believe me, I comprehend the resentment of parents who for reasons that cannot withstand cross examination nevertheless have a child removed from them, with no opportunity to explain, to defend, or to contest this action turned allegation and conviction.