Saturday, January 30, 2016


A FOLLOWUP 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,

The Times Colonist 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 Child Family and Community Services Act (CFCSA). Children’s best interests are paramount and include the right to continuity of care and the right to kinship contact. Priority should be given to foster placement with relatives. The Act urges timely decision making for young children. Cultural preservation is urged, especially for people of aboriginal origin.
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.
Basically they consider a paramount right to be whatever they say it is and they will often treat one right as paramount inappropriately. They use the right to privacy to shroud everything in secrecy. They have been known to withhold information from people with a need and right to know, such as relatives who offer their homes for placement. Often they form a plan, but take so long to implement it that it becomes redundant, but still they do not reassess things. As in the case covered in the Times Colonist, placement with siblings in Ontario might have seemed a good idea at the time of birth, but two and a half years later it was not. They formed a plan, but took so long to implement it that it became redundant. They persisted in making sibling placement a priority right, even though it was obvious that it no longer served the best interests of the child. This action sabotaged other rights.
The right to timeliness has gone under. By this time continuity of care has gained importance along with the stability, security and the love that the adoption would give them. They have the cultural continuity and the kinship contact right where they are. The foster mother mentioned that a move at this age could cause serious emotional harm to her daughter. The risk of such harm is well established in social science literature. Dr John Bowlby and others established this over 50 years ago. Most social workers are now ignorant of this work and this has not stopped the director from disputing that issue.   
As the foster mum pointed out, the natural parents are welcome to keep contact and the foster parents themselves are part of the Metis culture. The Metis association of BC fully supports the adoption to the point of applying to the Supreme Court as interveners.
         This case is just one more example of the adversarial culture that permeates the MCF. They will throw millions into fighting ill-judged cases in court, but cannot find the money for proper training of staff and other important things. You can be sure that if they lose this case, they will rush to appeal with no heed for the cost. Don’t blame the social workers. Greenhorn staff with scant training are thrown into difficult work with little mentoring and mostly just have to follow directions, whether they make sense to them or not. No wonder staff retention and recruitment is so difficult.

1 comment:

  1. The foster family having to sue for the right to adopt a child that was already in their care for two years and well bonded should not have had to give up foster parenting and resort to this court.

    Hopefully, this will be a wake up call to other foster parents to unite in order to protect themselves from the well-funded ego of MCFD. Foster parents adopt all the time, do them citing sibling togethernes to justify a denial means there were no issues with parental fitness of the prospective foster family.

    We would not have heard of this case if it were not for the efforts for Jack Hittrich. This would be his fourth concurrent court action against MCFD he is handling, the J.P. lawsuit that he won and is battling an appeal, baby Isabella Weins wrongful death, and premature baby Mary Jane Pierce.

    This overfunded $1.4 billion dollar agency must be reigned in and split up, with a new leader that has a track record of reforming miscreat child protection systems.


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