Episode 4 of 7: SUGGESTED IMPROVEMENTS TO B.C.'S CHILD PROTECTION
Today, Problem #4 of 4
The content derives from a ten-page document prepared by Ray Ferris for members of the B.C. legislative assembly. The segments for this blog are prepared with his permission. Ray has written many articles on this blog for the past decade. Ray Ferris retired after a career that included significant years with the MCFD. He has written a book entitled 'The Art of Child Protection.' You can order Mr. Ferris' book entitled 'the Art of Child Protection' by contacting the author directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Written by Ray Ferris.
We've been dealing first the Current Problems With B.C. CHILD PROTECTION and then the suggested solutions. Illustrations have been included to define the problems clearly.
Today, Problem #4 of 4 Social Workers Ignorant of Their Duties
Problem #4 of 4. A leading cause of a denial of parent and child rights is that social workers and their superiors are simply ignorant of the duties required by the Act. They rely entirely on advice from their contracted lawyers who can become very careless. Defence lawyers, especially on legal aid are often equally careless and do not take well to taking reasonable instructions. One outcome of the heavy reliance on lawyers is that the adversarial culture of the law and the courts has permeated the children's ministry and staff behaviour has become antagonistic to clients. As soon as a complaint is laid under the CF&CSA the social worker is in an adversarial situation. This spills over into attempts at mediation. Many examples are in appendix 4.
Illustrations of Problem 4
Many problems already mentioned related to training. I will detail now many of the pieces of knowledge and skills needed by a good protection worker. Many of these skills should be generic to all social workers and are specially needed by protection staff.
Earlier I mentioned the need for staff to know their responsibilities under the CF&CSA and the need to understand the rules of evidence. As well I have spoken to important sections of the Act and some of the rules of evidence. In order for the frequent disregard of the requirements of the Act and the rules of evidence to happen, a certain amount of tacit collusion is needed between directors, defence counsels, prosecutors and judges. The minister of children and families can only take responsibility for her staff and not for lawyers and that is why it is so important to ensure that staff is properly trained and that due diligence in their duties can be maintained with adequate supervision and mentoring. One can only train a social worker for this difficult work if one starts with good material and appointees will need profound personal qualities, such as intelligence, integrity, compassion and courage. Also there should be a clear code of ethics to follow. One cannot achieve good protection practice if one tries to make staff into bureaucratic functionaries who only know how to fill in forms and follow checklists. If the latter approach is operative, then good qualified staff will not stay on the job.
Tomorrow Suggested Improvements