Thursday, April 4, 2013


I once made a public entreaty to social workers engaged in child protection. Here is what I said.

“When you reflect upon the cases in which you are now or have been involved, and if within that list you readily identify families which would benefit from being together rather than apart and you have the means to affect that reconciliation, do all that you can to insure that this happens. So much rests with you. You control destinies. That seems a frightening responsibility.

Anyone occupying a role which owns the weight and the power of the child protection worker within our society, has to have the right stuff if he or she is confidently and effectively to protect the rights of children, safeguard the rights of families and parents and live with a deep contentment at the end of the day. If you see many cases where harm has been inflicted upon innocents, it is understandable that callousness develops toward the responsible caregivers. How discriminating you must be to preserve your own authentic objectivity. How discerning you must be so that can separate fact and evidence from story and assumption. 

You are a member of the public and the public depends upon you front line people to be so careful with your invested power for our sakes, the children among us, children who may require food, opportunity, protection. And by referring to “our sakes” I also intend our families, parents of children, parents who require understanding, a listening ear, parents who require advice & counsel and encouragement, grandparents whose grandchildren are their joys and for whom they hope. Make all of your action choices wisely and be gentle with us please.”

Then, many readers responded of which these are samples.1.     “There is no point appealing to SW as the presence of some good SW, if they ever exist, cannot stop this structural corruption. Nobody will jeopardize their pay cheque, job security and livelihood to uphold justice. Child protection" industry is a racket controlled by a cartel aiming to get rich by ripping off taxpayers at the expense of destroying families. The only way to stop this is by revoking child removal authority and kill CFCSA.”
2.     “Rhetoric that appears radical may not be effective or persuasive. However, revoking child removal authority by killing CFCSA is the only practical solution to end this fiasco and build a safer future for our children. Doing so will not compromise real child protection as there are other laws giving authority to separate abusive parents and children based on good evidence and legal due process. Removing the absolute power to remove will substantially reduce wrongful removal, abuse of power and corruption.”
3.     “The truth about child protection, and all the corruption, is very difficult to articulate because it is so unbelievable. A person tends to sound like a fanatic or lunatic. But just because someone sounds like this, doesn't mean they aren't telling the truth.”
4.     “I had a long history of involvement with MCFD as I was a single parent with multiples and I had a hard time coping with fatigue. Another single mom told me that if I went to my dr. and said I am depressed I could get free childcare. Big mistake!! Many years later they wanted to get me because they thought my son was mentally ill and needed meds so they re-opened a file and claimed 'historical involvement'. It got really weird for quite a while and finally I got my kids back. SO, they do return them. Just keep calm and friendly. Hopefully you are not expected to do a psychological evaluation, as that can be either very good or very bad depending on the doctor. I see now that MCFD was really jerking my chain, as they had no real evidence. They try to bluff you but most of what they write is thin and does not stand up. The case of physical injury is very hard to fight as in SBS. If a medical doctor claims you have physically injured your child, you are in for a long fight. The other stuff should not even be in court and it is a measure they now take to hold the kids until their paperwork catches up. It still can take awhile. I had to wait 4 months without my kids!!! And then there is more work too with all the 'services' they want to give. It is a tough system and all they encourage you to do is to go with their 'services' to a point, as if you do not they make sure you never get your kids back.”


  1. Not all kids are safe with their parents, especially when there are drug and alcohol addictions. However, not all kids need to be in a foster home. What about out of care options?

    Currently, my caseload has a large sibling group placed with the maternal grandfather under a section 8 agreement (referring to the section of the CFCSA, kith and kin agreements). This is a 3 party contract where parents maintain custody and guardianship but sign over day to day care to a close friend or relative.

    I have another case that is court involved, so MCFD removed guardianship from the parents, but we then transferred custody to a relative. If the parents don't resolve the protection concerns, we will permanently transfer custody to that family member.

    1. as a SW aren't you breaking confidentiality??

    2. No, I don't think I am breaking confidentiality; I am not using any names, and I am confident that no one reading this comment could possibly guess the identities of the families.

      In fact, the only details I identified were in the first example, where I stated there are several siblings. It is often a struggle to place large sibling groups in a single foster home. Sometimes, they are in 2 or 3 different homes. The wonderful thing about family placements is that MCFD is able to financially assist relatives while also ensuring sibs stay together.

  2. Alison, I am always honoured to hear from you and to have you express your opinion. And I appreciate hearing about cases that have a redemptive tone. Thanks.

  3. In a recent Ontario Children's Aid Society press release defending an internal memo that instructed social workers not to close files before the fiscal year end for fear of funding reduction the following years, they included a statistic that stated 78% of children removed, were returned to their parents. Presumably, the return would be under a supervision order by agreement or through court.

    The question would be, why, when we have this huge number of removals and subsequent returns, was a supervision order not implemented first, as the CFCSA provides for as a lesser intrusive action? I would estimate 2 out if three removed children are place in foster care if we go by the numbers in care versus those in kinship agreements.

    Why is it the those designated for kinship do not have to complete the 50-hours of training that foster parents must take?

    Secondly, the remedial courses that MCFD deems responsible fir addressing concerns, appear to be designed to span the longest stretch of time possible, far more than a typical 3-month temporary care order requested by MCFD here in BC. Minimum 6-month contracts are the norm, often these are renewed to a year.

    The other issue is with course availability, as the courses are typically constrained, they do not start immediately on removal, but after several months have elapsed.

    If we focus on those 80% of cases where criminal or abuse charges are not in the equation, and the plan is to return the children, why are courses not designed to start immediately, then be completed as quickly as possible, as are the required 50-hour courses for foster parenting (these are completed inside 3 months)?

    It is rare that removals occur after one intake. Often several intakes accumulate over a span of months before a removal can be justified. Presumably, said remedial courses could be implemented at the first intake as a precautionary and parenting improvement measure, given that the alternative, the high cost and duration of impending removals is proven to be detrimental to children, their parents and the taxpayer's pocketbook.

    1. The comment about the Ontario Children's Aid Society (CAS) instructing social workers NOT to close cases before the fiscal year end is interesting... my experience has been the opposite; overtime has been offered both years that I have worked for MCFD. However, this could be related to the implementation of the new intra-Ministry computer system, ICM. In both the Ontario example and mine from BC, it seems that the motivating factor is political :(


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