Friday, May 18, 2012

FOR PARENTS - INFO & SUGGESTI0NS - How to Help Yourself, Part 3 of 4

Written by Ray Ferris

Part Three of Four

How to help yourself.
There is a lot you can do to help yourself. It helps if you understand the process and what to expect. Any person with a reasonable degree of literacy can research the act. Internet users can simply enter the name of the act (Child, Family and Community Services Act) into a search engine and access it on line and print it. You do not need to know the whole act, but you can quickly learn how some key sections of the act are supposed to work and how they are meant to protect you. You can and should insist on compliance, even if your lawyer wants to be more casual.

If you look at division 4 and especially sections 34,35,36 and 37, you will see that a presentation report must contain a statement of the facts leading to protecting the child and an explanation that no less disruptive plan was available. You will also see that parents should receive a copy of the report and that a protection hearing must commence within 45 days of the presentation hearing. If you look under guiding principles under section 2, you will find emphasis on certain things, including the importance of timeliness in the cases of young children. Temporary orders on young children may not exceed three months at a time. This is to protect against the emotional damage known as attachment deficit disorder. In practice all these clauses are a joke and they are never followed, except in consented cases. Interim custody is sometimes extended for years, regardless of the emotional damage to the children.

The presentation report should contain facts, but this is interpreted very loosely by the courts. Sometimes the presentation reports contain only hearsay, opinion and conjecture. When social workers file affidavits headed as statements of fact, they often take great liberties with what are facts and what are not. Now you can turn that to your advantage by doing the same. When you file an affidavit with a statement of facts, you can safely use the same license without fear of being challenged. Say for example if you are arguing for more access to your children.

When a protection hearing is set you must be given ten days clear notice in writing stating the order being sought. The only exception is if the parents specifically waive notice at a hearing. You must insist on getting this notice so that the ministry cannot evade clarity. You are entitled to disclosure. Look up section 64. Note that a request for disclosure must be made in writing and the director must comply. If this has not been done, immediately instruct your lawyer to do so. Note especially subsection 64 (3.) If they do not disclose something, they cannot use it as evidence. You can write yourself demanding disclosure under 64, but they will probably pay more attention to it if your lawyer makes the request to ministry counsel. Instruct your lawyer to pin the director down to a time line on this. Get your lawyer to go back to court for an order if they do not comply. Do not allow disclosure to cause stalling and further adjournments. You are entitled to prompt disclosure so that your lawyer can prepare a proper defence. If the director does not know what is to be presented to court, why were your children removed in the first place?

TOMORROW, part 4 of 4: Look for ‘Evidence, Mediation, Accountability & Internal Reviews
Ray Ferris retired from a a career with the Ministry of Children and Family Development has been openly critical of Ministry practices and case management for some time. Occasionally I print some of his informed pieces. Ray is the author of 'The Art of Child Protection'. You can purchase it from him by writing to )

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