I am deeply concerned. I am also confounded. I have respect for all who opt to work for the welfare of children and families. I applaud all who do their work effectively. I am puzzled each time I become aware of cases that have been handled badly by administrators or social workers. I hear the voices of so many parents and advocates for parents and their children that I have come to the conclusion that our own British Columbia Ministry of Children and Family Development is damaged.
Social workers take a licking in major news stories and private blogs and Facebook pages. Social workers and lawyers for the Ministry are challenged and fault is found unofficially every week in one case or another. Social workers are faulted for failure to intervene and then for interfering unnecessarily. It’s seems at times like a no win career.
What concerns my I must admit is the scandal which goes largely unwritten and unpublished, specifically, the seizure of hundreds, perhaps thousands of children from loving homes for reasons that ate unsubstantial. If one apprehension of a child was conducted for no good reason that would be alarming enough, but from what I am learning, the typical operations of our system result in the removal of many children. Parents fall prey to the system through malicious hearsay and stepping out of line with the system. There is too often no reasonable evidence. Parents shockingly find themselves treated like criminals. Social workers are able to enlist the unquestioned assistance of the police to remove children from parents’ arms and custody and place them into foster homes.
Parents who diligently seek to recover their children and restore their families to normalcy are faced suddenly with courts of law with which they unfamiliar and in most cases unable to afford when it comes to representation. In these courts all normal principles and just values appear to be tossed out when a government agency wages legal war of parents it hasn’t done due diligence to know or understand. Parents are too often shut down, forbidden to cross-examine or refute. Legalities are employed like secrets to surprise parents. Parental right are ignored in favour of what appears a laudable concern for the best interests of a child.
Lawyers make an incredibly lucrative living off of the sorrows of parents and children who should never have been separated or who should have been reunited long before the case dragged family members into a court of law. Ministry lawyers reach for the support of well paid psychiatrists and pediatricians, many of whom repeatedly work for the Ministry to give testimony to support the removal and retention of children. Parents attempts to invite their own independent experts to challenge the case are often beaten back or rejected. It is for this reason that rarely are social worker care orders refused when taken before the court.
And the children are housed with strangers at great cost to B.C. tax payers. Foster homes are often good places managed by well intentioned and well motivated people. Occasionally it has been discovered that social workers and foster parents have conspired to tell children that their parents can’t take care of them, don’t want to take care of them, and in some cases that they don’t love them.
Parents and children meeting for regular, sometimes weekly visitation are instructed against expressions of affection and discussion of reasons why they are separated and they are monitored by supervisors with the threats that sessions may be terminated or cancelled or denied in the future. This is not hypothetical. I know this to be true.
I have heard it referred to as a vast industry and have always moved away from such characterization, but one only has to follow the money to realize there are hundreds of thousands of public dollars changing hands and the children in care are generally doing much worse in health, and in education while in care than when at home. The system is so secret, so unaccountable that even the watch dog has limited access to vital information. It is difficult not to conclude that we have an unkind, untruthful and amoral system at work.
The only ones who are in a position to reform this system are the politicians who established the ACT that governs this Ministry or now monitors it. Only they can help terribly mistreated families who are struggling so long and so hard to overcome scandalous case management.