Episode 7 of 7: SUGGESTED IMPROVEMENTS TO B.C.'S CHILD PROTECTION
Today, Solutions to the Problems … that's right, after four episodes reviewing current problems in the B.C. Child Protection programme, Ray Ferris is providing solutions. Remember, that the ten-page document from which all of this information has been taken has been given to some members of the B.C. Legislative Assembly.
The segments for this blog are prepared with Ray's 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 email@example.com.
Written by Ray Ferris.
Some General Information.
After retirement I first started doing advocacy when one of my former foster parents asked me for help. This resulted in my becoming a voluntary consultant to the Victoria foster parents association. The Association reported that only 2% of foster home closure appeals were successful. I did not believe that the children's ministry got it right 98% of the time, nor did anyone else. I also became knowledgeable about the epidemic of false accusations from recovered memory counselling. This practice did a lot of damage before it was finally debunked. An offshoot was the counselling cult of satanic ritual abuse accusations. The FBI investigated 300 cases and found not a shred of evidence, and yet many social workers believed in it.
My advice on child protection issues really stepped up after I got involved in the Bayne case. A blog was opened to help raise funds for the defence and court costs. I often wrote on it and I had many people asking me for advice. There was a heavy readership from all over Canada and the USA and on the day the judgement came out there were over 12,000 hits. I still get people contacting me on line. I had 10 new cases in 2015. I have been writing much less frequently over the last few years and requests have tapered off.
I soon began to discern definite patterns arising. To start with it seemed to me that in two cases out of three the director's evidence was usually quite weak and did not merit the adversarial treatment that was common. In the other cases there was certainly a need for protection in various degrees. However, my approach was very basic and the same as when I did protection work. I tried to guarantee due process in court. I thought that if the Act were to be followed and the rules of evidence were followed that there should be a just outcome. So what was the problem? I found that seldom was the Act being followed and even when there was legal representation there seemed to be great laxity in following due process. Some lawyers did not like to take instructions and got confused between giving advice and giving instructions. So I found that most of the time I was just giving legal advice. When asked how to pick a lawyer I suggested that they should ask them if the have read the Act and how recently and what are the salient points I need to know. Eventually I was giving them an advice letter telling them in detail how to instruct counsel to insist on notification and disclosure and how to keep reminding the court of the mandatory clauses of the Act. I found that if we got on to the case early, we could usually get results, but if it had gone on too long there was too much ego entrenched. Defence counsels did not like being told that they had not done the job properly. The parents in most cases had no difficulty studying and understanding the sections of the Act I had them read.
If you are reading this post and have not seen previous posts, I encourage you to return to the start of this recent series.
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