By Ray Ferris (This piece is one of a series Ray has written here.)
It is only because the court system is completely incapable of giving to parents their day in court within the time frame intended in the legislation, that the director is given almost unlimited power by default. I am not talking about delays of a few weeks or months here, but delays of a year or more. Even if the court eventually returns the children to the parent, a great deal of harm has already been done. Parents are bankrupted with legal costs and children are left with anxiety disorders.
The court system used to work reasonably well to complete protection hearings within a framework intended by the legislators. This is no longer the case and it is a situation which has prevailed for far too long. The time has come to question whether the court will ever again be able to protect children the way it used to do. A major systemic change is needed to ensure that the spirit and the letter of the law are followed. This might mean replacing the court as the primary vehicle of protection and only using the court in extreme cases, such as where there is compelling evidence of the need for a continuing care order.
Ferris retired after a career that included significant years with the MCFD. He has written a book entitled 'The Art of Child Protection.' This is the first in a series of pieces Ray will write here. You can order Mr. Ferris' book entitled 'the Art of Child Protection' by contacting the author directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.