Coroner’s panel calls for overhaul of Ontario child protection system.

Coroner’s panel calls for overhaul of Ontario child protection system.
Posted on October 1, 2018 | Derek Flegg | Written on October 1, 2018
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PREMIERE DOUG FORD MIGHT AS WELL HAVE MADE LISA MACLEOD THE MINISTER OF PAIN, SUFFERING, MISERY AND EARLY CHILDHOOD DEATHS.

“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.

“It is stunning to me how these children... are rendered invisible while they are alive and invisible in their death,” said Irwin Elman, Ontario’s advocate for children and youth. Between 90 and 120 children and youth connected to children’s aid die every year. (rendered invisible by the PDRC)

 

New child welfare report shines harsh spotlight on Canada. September 4 2018.



A new report says Canada is falling behind many developed countries when it comes to looking after the welfare of our children. John Hua reports.

More needs to be done to protect kids in Ontario’s child welfare system: Coroner.

WHY CAN'T THESE DEATHS BE PREDICTED WHEN THEY HAPPEN EVERY YEAR?

The report describes a fragmented system with no means of monitoring quality of care, where ministry oversight is inadequate, caregivers lack training, and children are poorly supervised. Vulnerable children are being warehoused and forgotten.

By LAURIE MONSEBRAATEN Social Justice Reporter SANDRO CONTENTA Feature Writer. Tues., Sept. 25, 2018.

https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2018/09/25/coroners-panel-calls-for-...

Minister Coteau said in second reading debate of Bill 89, "protecting and supporting children and youth is not just an obligation, it is our moral imperative, our duty and our privilege—each and every one of us in this Legislature, our privilege—in shaping the future of this province."

Despite being one of 276 recommendations to come out of two most recent inquests into the deaths of children in Ontario's care the ministry is not contemplating amalgamation, said MacCharles, and is instead choosing to focus on a shared services approach.

The ministry sidestepped a question emailed by the Toronto Star on whether it would impose the requirement to register their 5160 employees with the College of Social Work, stating instead that it is funding the authorization process and leaving the society to police themselves with secret internal processes.

Between 2014\15 the Ontario children's aid society claim to have spent $467.9 million dollars providing protective services that doesn't seem to extent to the 90 to 120 children that die in Ontario's care every year.

There’s not much worse governments can do to people than take their children away with a fake drug test, but the pure horror of it does not seem to have pervaded the public conscience. Chris Selley.

http://www.mcscs.jus.gov.on.ca/sites/default/files/content/mcscs/images/...

2014.. Almost half of children and youth in foster and group home care aged 5 to 17 — 48.6 per cent — 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 per cent of children and youth are taking behavior-altering drugs. For 10- to 15-year-olds, the number is a staggering 74 per cent.

https://nationalpost.com/opinion/chris-selley-motherisk-is-the-ontario-l...

The Report of the Expert Panel on the Deaths of Children and Youth in Residential Placements. September 2018.

https://www.provincialadvocate.on.ca/publications/external-reports/safe-...

OHRC Child Welfare Ontario: Concerns about risk assessment standards and tools.

Consultation participants raised concerns about bias in the tools and standards used to assess risk to children. Although they seem neutral, we heard that risk assessment standards and tools may lean towards more positive outcomes for White people. (see confirmation bias)

Social work researchers argue that risk assessment tools in Ontario are biased and perpetuate racism because they do not account for structural inequalities, such as racial discrimination, that may affect a child’s well-being. Parents may be blamed for these external factors, even though they are largely out of their control. We heard that relying on these tools, coupled with worker bias – which may be conscious or unconscious – may contribute to assumptions about racialized children and families being “inherently wrong or deficient.” This can lead to incorrect assumptions about the level of risk children are exposed to. (see confirmation bias)

We also heard concerns about risk assessment standards that relate to poverty – for example, the number of children allowed per bedroom. Poverty in racialized and Indigenous families may be seen as a sign of neglect, providing a basis for a child welfare agency to become involved. We heard that these standards can affect what is seen as acceptable in a home and contribute to CAS decisions to intervene. (see confirmation bias)

It is unclear to what extent child welfare risk assessment standards and tools reflect real risk to children in all cases, or arise from White, Western, Christian middle-class norms. When standards and tools are not based on objective factors, but on the cultural norms of the dominant group, they may contribute to racial profiling. (see confirmation bias)

Concerns about biased decision-making

Concerns were also raised both about the perceived bias of authorities or individuals that refer to CASs, and perceived bias in decision-making practices when child welfare workers and authorities become involved with families. Participants said that child welfare workers, many of whom are White, may be more likely to construe family situations or the actions of Indigenous or racialized people as “risky.” (see confirmation bias)

Overall, consultation participants agreed with the following broad strategies to prevent and address racial/financial profiling:

Anti-bias training

Developing policies, procedures and guidelines

Effective accountability monitoring and accountability

mechanisms, including:

complaint procedures

disciplinary measures

collecting, analyzing and reporting on data

Holistic organizational change strategy

Leadership

Communication (external and internal)

Engagement with affected stakeholders.

To file a human rights claim (called an application), contact the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario at:

If you need legal help, contact the Human Rights Legal Support Centre at:

Toll Free: 1-866-625-5179

TTY Toll Free: 1-866-612-8627

Website: www.hrlsc.on.ca

http://www.ohrc.on.ca/en/under-suspicion-concerns-about-child-welfare

According to OACAS CEO Mary Ballantyne the reason why so many frontline workers today wouldn't qualify for registration with the College of Social Work is due to the children's aid society expanding beyond the field of just social work.

2017... Mary Ballantyne CEO of OACAS says, the next step is to have Ontario's estimated 5,160 child protection social workers registered and regulated by a professional college someday. Fifty-five per cent have a bachelor's (BSW) or master's degree in social work. A BSW is the minimum required to join the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers, which is discussing the registration process with societies. Apr 03, 2016.

MARY HERSELF HAS NO CHILD CARE OR SOCIAL WORK CREDENTIALS BUT MARY CLAIMS HER DECADES OF ON THE JOB EXPERIENCE MORE THAN MAKES UP FOR IT.

Mary Ballantyne, CEO of Ontario's Association of Children's Aid Societies academic credentials include and are limited to a Bachelor of Applied Science from the University of Guelph and a Masters of Industrial Relations – Human Resource Management from Queens University and has been upgrading her skill set volunteering to hold a seat on the independent PDRC.

The report, Towards regulation: Child protection and professional regulation in the province of Ontario, notes that the CAS workforce has expanded beyond social workers since 2000 to include child and youth workers and those with general degrees and diplomas. (that means they took a two year college course sometime after leaving high school)

WHY HAS THE CAS WORKFORCE EXPANDED BEYOND SOCIAL WORK AND IN WHAT DIRECTION

WOULD THE CAS HAVE GOVERNMENT FUNDING HAD THEY REFUSED TO PROFESSIONAL REGULATION BEFORE GETTING FULL GOVERNMENT FUNDING?

THE MOTHERISK REPORT.

“Harmful Impacts” is the title of the commission report written by the Honourable Judith C. Beaman after two years of study. After reading it, “harmful” seems almost to be putting it lightly. The 56 cases the commission examined in which the flawed Motherisk tests, administered by SickKids Hospital between 2005 and 2015, were determined to have a “substantial impact” on the decisions of child protection agencies, led to children being permanently removed from their families and files being left open.

According to the Toronto Star out of the cases they reviewed Motherisk reported positive results 93% of the time and lets say Motherisk only strongly influence decisons to apprehend children in 56 cases, how many times did Motherisk results strongly influence the decision to keep files open and how much did that cost the taxpayers?

The 2017-2018 Expenditure Estimates set out details of the operating and capital spending requirements of the Ministry of Children and Youth Services for the fiscal year commencing April 1, 2017.

Restated total operating expense $4,369,258,414

$4,306,237,616

https://www.ontario.ca/page/expenditure-estimates-ministry-children-and-...

The report also points to the larger problem that allowed the the CAS's use of the Motherisk lab to cause so much damage: the system unfairly targets poor families — especially, the report details, Indigenous and racialized families; the legal deck is stacked against those families, denying them due process to a staggering degree; and authorities are too quick to take children from their parents in the absence of evidence of abuse or neglect BASING THEIR CONCERNS ON BIASED RISK ASSESSMENTS OF THE PARENTS.

THE ONTARIO COLLEGE OF SOCIAL WORK JOINS THE FIGHT TO REGISTERED THE CHILDREN'S AID SOCIETIES.

If you have any practice questions or concerns related to the new CYFSA, please contact the Professional Practice Department at 416-972-9882 or 1-877-828-9380 or email practice@ocswssw.org.

Submission-re-Proposed-Regulations-under-the-CYFSA-January-25-2018. OCSWSSW May 1, 2018.

https://www.ocswssw.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/OCSWSSW-Submission-re...

C.A.S. ATTITUDE: WIN CHILD WELFARE CASES AT ALL COSTS $$$

By Gene C. Colman of Gene C. Colman Family Law Centre posted in Child Welfare on Thursday, January 1, 2015.

It should not be a matter of "win" or "lose" when it comes to Ontario child welfare law. Ontario's Child and Family Services Act tells us that the paramount purpose is to "promote the best interests, protection and well being of children." One might note the glaring lack of any reference to family. In fact, there is a paucity of references to family throughout the entire CFSA even though many judges recognize the importance of maintaining family whenever possible.

I had a recent experience with CAS counsel at court when representing a family unjustly caught up in the system. Our office had prepared a very persuasive and comprehensive response to the Society's Application. We attended at the mandated five day hearing that follows apprehensions from parental care. The CAS certainly had not expected such forcefulness; normally parents are so overwhelmed at this early stage that they are unable to mount an effective defence. Generally, the court will rubber stamp the CAS requests. We did not agree to just stand idly by at the first appearance and CAS counsel was surprised by our aggressive (yet fair) approach.

Our written material seemed to have persuaded the judge. He instructed the lawyers to prepare a consent endorsement along the lines that we were seeking (which of course included an immediate return of the children to parental care). As we were returning to the courtroom after preparing the consent, the experienced and respected CAS counsel turned to me and my clients and remarked: "This is the third time your lawyer has beaten me."

The CAS counsel's comment was made innocently enough and indeed was intended to be complimentary. But still I was shocked (but probably should not have been). Why was I so shocked? 

https://www.complexfamilylaw.com/blog/2015/01/cas-attitude-win-child-wel...

The Motherisk Commission details years of rights infringements by courts. "If the same problems were identified in criminal court, there would be a huge public outcry." Tammy Law.

Tammy Law's delusional thoughts, excuses, rationalizations and justifications for using the Motherisk test to justify denying parents due process and circumventing the Constitution, the Charter of Rights and the principles of fundamental Justice behind the closed doors of Ontario's family courts.

Posted on February 27, 2018 by Tammy Law

After 2 years, and the review of more than 1200 cases, the Motherisk Commission came out with its report yesterday.  The Report is required reading for everyone who has any role to play in child welfare – social workers, lawyers, courts, litigants.  It describes a system that is dysfunctional, unfair, and undignified.  In addition to its criticism of how CASs have handled drug addiction. 

I want to be clear about what I think some of the fundamental problems are and how I think we can start to change this system.  Because I am first and foremost a lawyer, my thoughts naturally focus on the role of lawyers in this mess.  My thoughts are summarized as follows:

As lawyers, we need to recognize that good intentions are not enough.  It is really easy to hide behind “the best interests of the child” and agree or acquiesce to all types of infringements of our clients’ basic human and Charter rights.  This needs to stop.  Lawyers need to start seeing their role in the context of defending our clients’ very real rights to human dignity and security of the person.

The culture of cooperation has gone too far.  While I agree that it is very very important to work with the Children’s Aid Society to address their concerns, a line must be drawn when they demand cooperation that crosses the line.  As a state agent, the Society has an obligation to ensure that it works in the most minimally intrusive way possible – respecting the client’s right to individual freedom while trying to ensure that its clients are served.  This is a difficult job.  Lawyers and courts should be there to ensure that the fine line is respected.

Society counsel need to understand that they have a public interest role.  They should be providing advice to their clients in the context of being a public interest litigant.  They have a duty to the court to be fair.  This means that if unreliable evidence is being tendered (and there were many signs of this with respect to the Motherisk testing), they should be advising their clients about the unfairness of relying on it.  Lawyers are and should be gatekeepers of evidence as much as courts are.

We need to be more vigilant. As noted in the report, our role as advocates is to raise every defence possible for our clients.

HOW ABOUT PRESENTING EVIDENCE THAT COUNTERS SWORN AFFIDAVITS WHEN CLIENTS HAVE IT IN ABUNDANCE - JUST SAYIN'..

Our clients are often extremely vulnerable, having lived lives that were challenged by multiple obstacles.

SO LAWYERS FAILING TO REPRESENT THEIR CLIENTS ISN'T JUST ANOTHER ONE OF THOSE OBSTACLES???

Many have made admirable attempts to parent their children.  We need to be fearless in our advocacy for them.  As a lawyer, I have experienced and seen derisive, sarcastic, or rude comments directed at myself and other lawyers who attempt to defend their clients.  This needs to stop.  It’s our client’s right – their children’s right – that they have a full defence.

http://www.tammylaw.ca/2018/02/27/report-of-the-motherisk-commission/

About The Author

Advocates for family preservation against unwarranted intervention by government funded non profit agencies and is a growing union for families and other advocates speaking out against the children's aid society's... More

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