|simply an image of a dispaasionate agency leading a child away from family|
History tells the story. Historically there has been a vigorous dispute about the relationship between government and the family and certainly with the function and responsibilities assigned to each. Contingent upon the political philosophy, either the family has been seen as servant to the state or the state has been expected to provide for families the required security to accomplish their work as primary caregivers to these citizens of the future.
Tension always exists between the state and its parts. Government institutions should be obliged to be careful to facilitate the function of the family without usurping its proper role. Of course federal and provincial governments have a role to play to ensure children are not threatened by poverty, neglect or abuse but the state must be careful not to trample on the independence of the family. Theoretically the government exists to aid and assist the smaller units rather than to take over their places in a society.
In British Columbia, and by all reports, in other provinces and territories of Canada as well, it is time to restart this discussion about the proper role of the family in a free and democratic society. The case of Ayn Van Dyk, a ten-year old autistic girl underscores this dramatically. Now for seven months she has been in provincial care, accommodated in a foster home with decisions about her welfare made entirely without consultation with her parents and solely by social workers. Ayn has two brothers, one of whom is also autistic and both of these children are in the secure and responsible care of their father. Her father, Derek Hoare, is a stay-at-home dad, intelligent, articulate, and informed about autism and deeply in love with his children. Their mother is also a caring parent, and she although divorced from Derek, has an amicable and trusting relationship with her ex-husband. Ayn was removed seven months ago on June 16, 2011 four days after she wandered from her back yard by scaling a fence. Social workers showed up at Derek’s home requesting that he sign a voluntary release document to which he understandably vehemently objected. That I presume represents an uncooperative attitude. At no time has there been any suggestion that Ayn was neglected or abused by Derek. There is every indication and evidence to believe that Derek’s home and custody is the very best place for Ayn and it is in her best interests to be at home.
We have sanctioned through legislation that an institution of the government, the Ministry of Children and Family Development, may have the authority to remove any child at any time and only after the fact acquire a court order to legalize that action. Because we laudably want to protect innocent children from real abuse and neglect we have vested in an institution a value that is increasingly undeserved because the institution itself is guilty of abuse and disregard for parents whose families MCFD has misguidedly divided.
You may surmise, there must be more to Ayn's and Derek's story. There must be more presenting reasons for her removal than merely that daytime wander. But you cannot know that because Derek himself, the father of the child, has not received that disclosure from the MCFD. He has requested to know. We would all maintain that he has a right to know. Yet within the system that we have created, the institution's employees do not need to see this as a priority. Rather, they can remain non communicative until meetings and case conferences months apart.
Derek is scheduled to have a Case Conference on Monday January 23rd, 2012. He has waited for a couple of months for this. He prepared a detailed Plan of Care for Ayn to which the MCFD will positively respond. We hope for the best for the family.
I suggest some interesting reading at Parental Rights (American website)