Tuesday, February 21, 2012


We realize don’t we that there is no uncomplicated quick-fix solution to improving the child protection system. If there were, then why haven’t well-intentioned reforms of the past been wholly successful? Scores of recommendations have been generated by respected judges and their colleagues with which the Ministry of Children has largely complied in recent years.

Too often social workers are either criticized for breaking up families or for missing a case of abuse. However, the system in which they work is constructed around predicting a parent’s ability to look after their child, which is never certain.

Professionals should appropriately take responsibility when things go wrong but they need more freedom to make decisions, more support and understanding, and less prescription and censure. Social workers are required by superiors to focus upon compliance with procedures and that takes them from spending time with families and children and it limits their ability to make informed judgements. We need a system that constantly seeks to improve. Social workers need to have the confidence to make tough decisions and make a positive difference. The tough decision may at times be to leave a child with a parent or parents despite a call-in or report. That should have been the case with Ayn Van Dyk. She didn’t need to be removed from her father. The social worker could have established a relationship with Derek that served both parties, satisfying the Ministry and assisting Derek with his parental duties.

Of course if Derek demonstrated resistance to any such help, that’s his problem and that was his undoing. The entire story has not been told. He has not had his day in court. Oh yes, haven’t I told you? In our atrocious bureaucratic/judicial system, his court dates are set for December 2012 and January 2013. All the while, his daughter Ayn will be away from him. It will be at least two years before they are reunited – that is, if all goes well.


  1. The last paragraph first sentence would appear to put the onus on Derek, giving MCFD justification for removing Ayn. The wording in this sentence is unfortunate.

    MCFD social workers only have to mark a checkbox on a report to court form that reads "...no other less disruptive measures available..." to justify a removal.

    Three intakes per year, regardless of what they are, is MCFD's (possibly unwritten) policy under which removals can occur.

    So what if a trial judge says the removal was not justified two years after the fact. MCFD chuckles to themselves; keeping the child in care regardless of the justification or lack thereof ensures the same budget allocation will be the same next year.

    Refusing services for which evidence of neglect or harm does not exist and where there is no immediate threat of danger to a child's safety exists, should, by the CFCSA, require MCFD operatives to first prove to a judge such a dire consequence, removal, is justified and they earn a warrant.

    Derek was indeed portrayed in court as refusing services and being non-cooperative with MCFD workers over a span of time. Layered on that were the many adventures of his three children, told in such a manner as to ensure the visual picture before the judge painted Derek as a single, overwhelmed father.

    The solutions are simple:

    1. Ensure warrants are used.

    2. "Emergency" no-warrant status must involve criminal charges, not just "contemplation" or simple police presence.

    3. Ensure that a central office Victoria approves each removal (as Ray Ferris informs us was done in his day), and that the plan of care includes cost estimates for the anticipated duration based on past history of litigation timelines.

    Checking off a box that reads "no other alternatives" should also have a price tag beside it, and a confirmation box "are you sure you beleive this removal warrants the stated 6-figures taxpayer expenditure"

  2. Friend,
    I think you said a number of appropriate and helpful statements. You drew attention to the first sentence of the last paragraph as unfortunate. I actually intended to word it that way but didn’t anticipate that it could deliver a couple of denotations. I said, “Of course if Derek demonstrated resistance to any such help, that’s his problem and that was his undoing. The entire story has not been told. He has not had his day in court.” What I was saying was that in the event that Derek did actually resist MCFD offers of help then that would account for his ongoing present issues, but that Derek has not yet been given his legal opportunity to counter MCFD allegations with his own account of what took place.

  3. Even your explanation is illustrative of the fact that people are judged guilty on a social worker opinion. There must be a process set up where said SW must back up his or hers opinion with facts. As it is now refusal to acknowledge, "There is a problem and I need help" is seen as a refusal to cooperate. There is no consideration of the fact that thrre might not be a problem. Once the SW is there one of two things will happen. You will accept their "help" or it will be imposed on you via the courts(in the form a removal).


  4. Hello Anon 12:10 AM
    You are still not hearing me, and I admit, that may be my fault for not expressing unmistakably. If you know my writing and record then you have discerned that I do in fact agree with you that presumption tends to control too many case assessments rather than does actual evidence. I have stated that in numerous instances over the years. You and I are not disagreed there. Evidence-based investigation and case management is espoused repeatedly on this blog. Can you understand that I am not discounting that position when I tell it like it is, that Derek, the parent has a problem with MCFD and its questionable attempt to assist his daughter, because he does not welcome or accept MCFD’s plan or offer if there ever has been one. I was commenting on the way it is, not on the way it should be, because presently it is all wrong. Okay? Because I cannot make myself any clearer than I just have done. As to what you say about the system, we are on the same page.


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