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.”
He continued, “I was very forthright with the worker.... can't even think of how to summarize what's racing through my mind. This is pretty disconcerting, because the worker seemed to have very little understanding of my case and was not simply handed my case to catch up on but all of them... I cannot imagine the magnitude of the task which lies before them. But I for one am not here to redo everything I have done so far, I expect MCFD to honour our talks thus far. I pressed for quick contact but it did not seem reciprocated. I think perhaps I should go up higher to someone who has a better working knowledge of this file. Unbelievable."
Now you must understand that his daughter Ayn has been in Ministry care (foster home) for six months. The earlier case worker had agreed that Derek should prepare and submit a plan of care for Ayn which the Ministry would consider as essential to returning her to him. He worked for many days to prepare a thorough and convincing proposal and he submitted this with satisfaction and confidence not long ago. Derek says, “they (case worker) did not even know my proposal had been submitted….and knew nothing about my proposals to overcome our visitation sticking point.” The latter comment refers to Derek’s adamant decision not to visit Ayn, despite the tear on his own heart. He has passionately articulated in other documents why the trust in his autistic daughter’s heart would be shattered irreparably if he showed up and then left."
Some supporters, disenchanted with the practices of the Ministry of Children and Family Development, have alleged that this personnel change is a postponement scheme to which Derek responds. “I do not think it is a stalling tactic, I think that the other worker is gone, for whatever reason, and this is the worker tasked with covering all their files. But it does not appear to be isolated to me, however in the meantime all those files are families, families right before Christmas, who had plans and expectations, and now this worker has been given a task which is bordering on impossible: to learn, meet, understand and exercise judgement on those families. What possible sort of timeframe is it that they will need just to get caught up let alone to intelligently proceed. Ayn should be home NOW, this is not the time for them to do this... return her and then play catch-up.”
“And once again they put me in a situation where I cannot fault this individual worker (yet), but this entire process is indescribable, the strongest of terms are necessary. "Incompetent" is not a good word, for I think even the most competent of people would be unable to adequately protect children while operating under a policy framework such as this. "Evil" is not right either, because I believe the above would apply to the most moral worker as well. And the word "Authoritarian" really does not go far enough to describe the connotation which should be placed. One thing is for sure this is a nightmare.And the only way this could not be perceived as "Psychological Warfare" is if MCFD has no understanding whatsoever of Psychology. Tortuous.”
You can hear Derek’s agony, his helplessness. Derek concluded his comments on this occasion with one further exasperated gasp. “Time to research a whole new worker... let's hope they are as diligent as I. Then they will see a how good I am for Ayn.”
I would underscore, in Ayn's best interest, her father Derek Hoare is good for her and she will thrive most effectively in the nurture of his home and her family, her brothers. What can a Ministry of social workers possibly be thinking their mandate is when they remove a child like this from the love and comfort of her own family? Even if there is some value in a brief intervention for assessment or observation to permit lengthy delay, no rather to subject a child to prolonged deprivation has violated basic human rights and expectation.