WHAT COMES FIRST IN ONTARIO'S CHILDREN'S AID SOCIETY - THE DRUGS OR THE UNWANTED BEHAVIORS?
WHAT COMES FIRST IN ONTARIO'S CHILDREN'S AID SOCIETY - THE DRUGS OR THE UNWANTED BEHAVIORS?
Almost half of children and youth in foster and group home care aged 5 to 17 — 48.6 percent — are on drugs, such as Ritalin, tranquilizers and anticonvulsants, according to a yearly survey conducted for the provincial government and the Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies (OACAS).
At ages 16 and 17, fully 57 per cent are on these medications.
In group homes, the figure is even higher — an average of 64 percent of children and youth are taking behaviour-altering drugs. For 10- to 15-year-olds, the number is a staggering 74 per cent.
If only 13% of children in Ontario's care are in care for serious neglect and abuse why are so many of them on drugs?
A Toronto man in his early 20s, who spent 12 years as a Crown ward, believes medication was used as a “behaviour control method” in the Belleville group home where he lived with 15 other youths.
“I felt it was an excuse. I think it was just easier to manage that number of youth in one place if they weren’t all going so fast,” he says, referring to youths considered hyperactive.
He was placed on medication despite insisting he didn’t need it.
“I felt you really didn’t have a choice because if you refused to take your medication you’d be punished for that,” he says. “You’d be grounded and not allowed to join programs and interact with other youth.”
Andrew Koster, executive director of Brant Family and Children’s Services, notes that Ontario law requires informed consent for medical treatment from anyone capable of providing it, regardless of age. But concerns that youth will reject medication mean “their rights are not necessarily given to them.”
Children’s aid societies claims to deal with children and youth who have higher levels of mental-health and behavioural problems than the general population. Still, there is evidence of a system using medication simply to keep children and youth under control.
For youths in care, the rate of psychotropic drug use is significantly higher than the general population. A 2005 study in the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry estimated that only 2.5 per cent of Canadians aged 15 to 19 were on psychotropic medication.
GATEWAY DRUGS: NOT EVERYONE HAS A CHOICE.
Prescription drug abuse is an increasing problem.
Every day, thousands of teenagers in Ontario use a prescription drug to get high for the first time. They’re primarily accessing these drugs wherever they can get them.
It can be as easy as opening a cupboard, drawer or medicine cabinet. Prescription drugs are not exempt from causing harm to your teenager. The scary statistic-12 to 17 year olds abuse prescription drugs more than they abuse ecstasy, crack, cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine combined.
“There are lots of kids in group homes all over Ontario and they are not doing well — and everybody knows it,” says Kiaras Gharabaghi, a member of a government-appointed panel that examined the residential care system in 2016.
The Star obtained the reports in a freedom of information request and compiled them according to the type of serious event that occurred — something the ministry does not do.
They note everything from medication errors to emotional meltdowns to deaths.
Restraints were used in more than one-third of 1,200 serious occurrence reports filed in 2013 by group homes and residential treatment centres in the city, according to a Star analysis.
At one treatment facility, 43 of the 119 serious occurrence reports filed to the Ministry of Children and Youth Services include a youth being physically restrained and injected by a registered nurse with a drug, presumably a sedative. How is a society that's against spanking isn't against tying children to their beds and drugging them?
The language used by group homes evokes an institutional setting rather than a nurturing environment. When children go missing, they are “AWOL.” In one instance in which a child acted out in front of peers, he was described as a “negative contagion.” Often, the reasons for behaviour are not noted. Children are in a “poor space” and are counselled not to make “poor choices.”
Blame is always placed on the child.
Their stories are briefly told in 1,200 Toronto reports describing “serious occurrences” filed to the Ministry of Children and Youth Services in 2013. Most involve children and youth in publicly funded, privately operated group homes.
“You know your system is based on the flimsiest of foundations when you have absolutely no standards on who can do this work,” adds Gharabaghi, director of Ryerson University’s school of child and youth care.
The ministry doesn’t know how many children are being cared for in Ontario’s 389 licensed group homes. For some reason the ministry is just now working on a system that will eventually allow it to collect the information. (EVENTUALLY?)
In other Star articles the number of children currently in care has varied from just under 16 thousand most recently to just over 23 thousand in 2014.
After two high-profile inquests into the deaths of two children restrained in Brampton and Peterborough-area group homes in the late 1990s, provincial regulations were changed to require ministry-approved training in physical restraints for all front-line staff.
A 2008 Cornell University study on the various types of physical interventions found “all restraints present considerable risk to the youth, are intrusive to the youth, have a negative effect on the treatment environment, and have a profound effect on those youth who have experienced trauma in their lives.”
According to Fight For Kids, an organization that “educates parents worldwide on the facts about today’s widespread practice of labeling children mentally ill and drugging them with heavy, mind-altering, psychiatric drugs,” says over 10 million children in the US are prescribed addictive stimulants, antidepressants and other psychotropic (mind-altering) drugs for alleged educational and behavioral problems (3).
In fact, according to Foundation for a Drug-Free World, every day, 2,500 youth (12 to 17) will abuse a prescription pain reliever for the first time (4). Even more frightening, prescription medications like depressants, opioids and antidepressants cause more overdose deaths (45 percent) than illicit drugs like cocaine, heroin, methamphetamines and amphetamines (39 percent) combined. Worldwide, prescription drugs are the 4th leading cause of death.
"Keeping the most vulnerable members of our community safe is the responsibility of everyone."
Neglect is one of the most common child protection concerns in Ontario:
Q & A with OACAS’ CEO:
How is neglect a form of child abuse?
A child who is neglected is consistently not having their vital needs met. That could mean poor nutrition, lack of attention to hygiene, and so on. From a child welfare perspective, neglect is a concern because it ultimately affects a child’s ability to thrive.
The written PDRC report. Deaths of children in care.
The little PDRC pie chart that knew too much.
After the 276 recommendations in the last two most recent inquests into the deaths of children in care AND 30+ more from the Motherisk Commission is SCARY MARY BALLANTYNE'S children's aid society really worth the lives of anymore children in Ontario's care?
MARY BALLANTYNE says: "Those who call for the overhaul of Ontario's children's aid societies fail to understand the many ways in which their system excels."
Impoverished: Report shines light on poverty’s role on kids in CAS system:
The effect of provincial policies on struggling families was especially apparent in the late 1990s, when the Conservative government slashed welfare payments and social service funding while at the same time, it introduced in child protection the notion of maltreatment by “omission,” including not having enough food in the home and this after giving the society what amounted to an unlimited funding scheme. The number of children taken into care spiked as did their funding.
“The ministry has been pretty clear with us that advocacy is not part of our mandate,” said the report’s co-author, Deborah Goodman. “It’s not like they’re asking for the (poverty) data. They’re not.” Goodman then goes to to suggest the silence suited the provincial government, more than it suited the society's funding goals.
Inquisition - An official investigation, especially one of a political, or of religious nature or other special interest groups, characterized by lack of regard for individual rights, prejudice on the part of the examiners, and recklessly cruel judgements.
In 2015 Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne proclaimed herself ready to do whatever it takes to fix the children's aid societies mess - except require the society to obey the social worker registration act or amalgamate the 47 CAS's, a key recommendation from the Jeffrey Baldwin inquest, or launch an investigation into the conduct of the frontline workers or the policies and practices of the management.
“If we could fix what is ailing the child protection system, child welfare system in this province, by starting from scratch and blowing up what exists — I would be willing to do that, because one child’s life would be worth changing the administrative structures.
But, just not yet. The premier wanted more evidence before she would act.
"THE PEEL MEMO LEAK."
In leaked memo, Peel CAS staff asked to keep cases open to retain funding AND ADD 1000 MORE...
What does it mean when the CAS tells middle management to add 1000 new cases? It means ...
"Take any family that won't sign consent forms and service agreements to the one sided Ontario family court....
By KATIE DAUBS Feature Writer Thu., March 14, 2013.
Though the CAS claimed the purpose of the memo wasn't to inflate numbers, between 2011 and 2013 the 46 (at the time) separate societies investigated a combined total of 42 000 families or about 14 000 investigations per year, in 2014 - after the Peel Memo Leak - and launching a new government funded advertising campaign and reopening 20 000 previously closed files the societies investigated a combined total of over 82 000 families to meet their funding goals in that one year as reported by the Toronto Star.
Mary Ballantyne, CEO of OACAS said there was more context going into the decision making process than met the eye..
SO, WHAT HAPPENS THE NEXT TIME THE CHILDREN'S AID SOCIETY COMES UP SHORT?
"No one should be surprised that agencies like CAS are taking extreme steps to ensure they meet their funding goals" said Carrie Lynn Poole-Cotnam, Chair of the CUPE Ontario Social Services sector.
Conservative children’s services critic Jane McKenna said the memo’s optics were “terrible” and “reflect poorly on not just the CAS but also Wynne and the Liberal government, which bears ultimate responsibility for child welfare in Ontario.” She then went on to say, “These are desperate people doing desperate things.”