Friday, January 29, 2016


An opinion by Ray Ferris, my advocacy colleague, an experienced former Ministry of Children social worker and author of 'The Art of Child Protection."  Contact the author to order a copy of his book,

CTV Image / the 2 yr old Metis girl known only as  S.S.
The story of the foster parents trying to adopt a child is a classic example of conflict between the different rights of children. Children’s rights are set out in the CFCSA. Children’s best interests are paramount and include the right to continuity of care. The right to kinship contact, kinship placement timely decision making and cultural preservation.
         No individual right is paramount, but some rights become more important as time passes and conflicts can occur. It is then that a balance between rights must be sought requiring good judgement. Unfortunately, good judgement seems to be a scarce commodity in this ministry. They will often treat one right as paramount inappropriately. They use right to privacy to shroud everything in secrecy, sometimes withholding information from people with a need and right to know. Often they form a plan, but take so long to implement it that it becomes redundant, but they do not reassess things.
As in the case covered by Laura Kane, placement with siblings in Ontario might have seemed a good idea at the time, but over two years later it was not.  The right to timeliness has gone under. Continuity of care gained importance along with stability, security and the love that the adoption would give them. They have the cultural continuity and the kinship contact right where they are. As the foster mum pointed out, the natural parents are welcome to keep contact and the damage of emotional danger is well established in the literature.

         Don’t blame the social workers. Heavy staff turnover and little training means that a case can get several different green social workers in a year.

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