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
Ayn is a ten year old autistic girl who was removed from her home about six months ago. Her case is getting a lot of coverage on the child protection blog of Dr. Ron Unruh. He also covered the case of the Bayne family, which wasted up to a million dollars of taxpayers money. Ayn had climbed the fence in her home yard and was found at a neighbour’s. Since the apprehension she has escaped from ministry care at least twice, in spite of being heavily medicated.
This is another case where it appears that every rule in the family, child and community services act is being broken. There is no provision in the act for adjourning presentation hearings and yet the presentation hearing, instead of being summary and completed as quickly as possible, has been stretched to four months. Instead of getting to a protection hearing within 45 days, a date has been set sometime next year for a court conference at which the parents will not be allowed to speak, or demand the director show his evidence. If contested it will take another year to get to trial and possibly much longer. In the Bayne case it took 27 months to commence a protection hearing. Whatever happened to the guidelines under sections 2 and 4 of the CF&CSA?
Ray Ferris speaks from 31 years of service in child welfare and protection as a social worker and district supervisor and family court coordinator. He cannot tolerate unseemly case work or the injustice imposed upon families in too many cases.It is increasingly obvious that the courts are so log jammed that they are no longer capable of serving the purpose of ensuring that the best interests of children as defined under section 4 are protected. Judges now have little choice but to rubberstamp the applications of the directors. Parents get no say for months or years. It seems therefore that there must be greater onus on the deputy minister and on the director of child services to scrutinise field practice. It cannot be left solely in the hands of judges whose hands appear to be tied. The ministry officials can only influence what takes place within the court room by instructing counsel. However, they have great control over what gets into the courtroom and what is presented to the judges. Weak evidence should be sorted out by the imposition of standards of practice and by staff training. I have seen too many cases where children were kept in care for many months, only to have the case withdrawn before trial.
Another matter of concern is that the director in this case is one who has a proven track record of adversarial and obstructive behaviour. I believe the name Bruce McNeill is well-known to former opposition critics. This is the director who banned the feeding of breast milk to the newborn Bayne baby only a few months ago.
I think that it is high time that the minister ensures that the act can be followed as the legislature enacted it and intended it to be followed, or find a much better way of protecting children from adversarial employees. It is too bad when parents begin to feel that only the news media can protect them.
Note to Mr. Brown and the Hon. Mary McNeill, do not bother to send me a form letter explaining that you cannot discuss these cases because of privacy concerns. However, I would be most happy if you could respond in a more or less intelligent manner to the general issues that I raise. I have already made a submission to the joint standing committee covering the above and many other points.