Saturday, August 31, 2013


A final word from Ray Ferris today who has written for the past four days. I trust you have appreciated his insights into the machine that is MCFD operations and practice. Some people get chewed up in the gears. It would be nice if the power could be turned off while the service is upgraded. 

Here's Ray,
"Today I will mention another couple of things coming out of the J.P. case. You may have noticed that I went into detail about complicated the process for handling cases appears to be and how many people are involved in a relatively simple piece of work. It’s simple if the person handling it has any skills in interviewing, assessment and evidence, but it’s difficult it’s and error prone if the intake workers are green and under-trained. It becomes even worse if they are incapable of exhibiting judgement. Not only that, they can only report to a team leader who again goes through a process. If there are more than one intakes on one case, a different worker may handle it each time and each one may assess the situation differently. Anyway, even if an intake worker does show good judgement, it makes no difference, because a rigid set of processes must be followed and no deviation can be allowed. This obviously consumes a great deal of duplication by people and of work that is wasteful and unnecessary. Why does this happen? The answer is quite simple really and the main reason is an all-pervading anxiety. Anxious people like to think that there is safety in numbers, so if you involve a lot of people in the process, you can always blame somebody else if things go wrong. Also remember that process is the refuge and stronghold of the bureaucrat. If you establish a set of rigid processes, it becomes a security blanket. Junior staff persons are protected if they stick to the process. Process becomes the goal in itself and not just a means of achieving the goal. Thus when actions are scrutinized, staff members are judged as to whether they followed the right process or not. Staff is appraised on the ability to follow process. Good faith is judged on whether or not due process was followed. In fact a private contractor hired by the ministry to judge the staff on their actions seemed to know the rules and judged everything on the ability to follow process.

Anywhere you go in the ministry for an internal review, you will find the same thing over and over again. You are offered process, but outcomes never change. They never do anything wrong and never change anything. Why should they? After all everyone followed the prescribed process. Sorry we destroyed your family, but you cannot really blame us because we followed all the right processes and we did it all in good faith. One of the ironies in protection cases is that courts are also rigidly process driven and adversarial. This is just as true of family court as of criminal courts. That is one of the reasons why protection cases take such an injuriously long time. Judges are so used to the demands of process, that they see nothing wrong in the way the children’s ministry wallows in them.

More from Ray in a week or so. Some daily posts will follow with different themes.

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