Sunday, June 18, 2017
Thursday, April 27, 2017
Ray Ferris, my writing colleague for GPS (Advocacy Blog) has written another article to the Times Colonist. He himself had a helpful and rewarding career in the Ministry of Children and Family Development dealing justly for children and parents and caregivers. Later as he saw bureaucratic missteps and bungling he became an outspoken critic as well as an advisor.
Look at his latest piece.
MCFD's DEFAULT LEAP TO LITIGATION
The Clarke government always seems to be willing to spend more on battling its citizens than on helping them. They leap to litigation with no apparent heed for the cost. We know about the big ones like the years taken to lose a dispute with the teachers, the millions covering up the fired health researchers and the six million spent bailing out Basi and Verk. We will never be allowed to know the true cost of all those millions spent battling against families and innocent children in family court.
Suffice it to say that if a family has its children removed under the CF&CSA, they will need at least $200,000 in legal fees to get them back, regardless of the merits f the case. Several cases have cost far more. Parents need deep pockets, a valuable house or a very generous lawyer. The late Doug Christie worked free for the B. case for two years. Hittrich law advanced well over a million. The director was willing to fight for a year in a losing cause and the case still goes on. A Victoria lawyer gave $700,000 worth of service in a case, where the judge had already returned the children under supervision. The director wasted a full week of Hittrichcourt time just quibbling about details of a continued order. What did that cost the taxpayer?
Then there was the little Metis child SS. She was snatched from her Metis foster home over the pleadings of Ms. Turpel-Lafond and sent to strangers. The loving foster parents and extended family spent nearly a million dollars trying to keep her. How much did the taxpayer spend? Now their Metis adoption of her has been legally validated, the director spends more millions battling them and the child in the courts of the North-West-Territories. Sad.
From Ray Ferris. # 105-3900 Shelbourne St., Victoria V8P 4H8, 250 477 5723
Sunday, November 27, 2016
Ecclesiastes 4:1 says, "I saw the tears of the oppressed - and they have no comforter; power was on the side of their oppressors - and they have no comforter.”
Paul and Zabeth Bayne are friends of mine, Christians, at home with their three children, two small boys and a 7-week old daughter and that was when their odyssey of horror began. It was the autumn of 2007. Two small boys chasing one another in the house and the toddler fell on the infant girl who lay on a blanket on the living room floor as mom and dad did supper tasks. In the following hours the baby lost her appetite and slept a lot so the parents took her to the hospital. After a couple of days of examination, the clinical default diagnosis for her triad of symptoms was 'shaken baby.' The term itself has intimations. Authorities did not believe the parents story of a mishap. Reports between medical personnel, and police, and child protection agency workers resulted in all three children being removed from them even though there were no criminal charges against the parents. "I saw the tears of the oppressed." The Baynes' efforts to recover their family cost them the mom's grand piano (she a concert pianist), and cost them their home. They began working night shifts to be available for all the daytime visits and court appearances. One year, two years, three years passed. The Baynes had an army of supporters and advocates. A former child protection social worker critical of some Ministry mistakes advised the Baynes' lawyer Doug Christie, who donated his time and admirably argued their case. Nevertheless, during the fourth year, a fourth child was born to them and within hours that child was also removed from them. "I saw the tears of the oppressed." They waited and prayed and worked for four years before they heard a judge's order to return the four children to them (August 2011). That was an astounding and unforgettable day. Today they are a happy family living far from the trauma of those years. And the children are thriving and growing taller and older and smarter and loving.
I wrote this today, because I remember. For those years, Zabeth and I were in almost daily contact as I wrote blogs in our concerted campaign to make the public aware. News networks and newspapers and finally CBC the Fifth Estate picked up their ongoing story.
Friday, November 4, 2016
JUSTICE IS A GARMENT
Justice is a garment prepared for residents of this planet. It is woven from billions of threads, knit together into a strong and integrated fabric. Love is the thread and it has produced a fabric of integrity. Three year old SS’s justice garment is in tatters.
Injustice occurs when countless numbers of these threads are pulled from the garment. The wearer of the garment is then uncovered and vulnerable.
Wednesday, November 2, 2016
MCFD'S DELIBERATE EVASION OF APPROPRIATE PROCEDURE
SS is the 3-year old Metis girl who lived with upstanding Metis foster parents in BC since she was 3 days old. These parents wanted to adopt her. MCFD had other plans and waited 3 years to enact them. In order to accomplish the removal of SS from her B.C. foster parents' home and send her to another foster home in Ontario, the Ministry of Children and Family Development purposely, one might say deliberately, took numerous questionable actions. You will read about them here. An unnamed friend has written the following points that I deem to be worth considering.
MCFD purposely disregarded every criterion for assessing a child’s best interests as specified in B.C. legislation and in the B.C. College of Social Workers Standards of Practice;
MCFD purposely disregarded the rights of the birth parents and their written preferences to which attention should be given as specified in B.C. legislation and in the B.C. College of Social Workers Standards of Practice;
MCFD purposely disregarded the written position of the B.C. Metis Federation that opposed the move;
MCFD purposely disregarded specialized opinions of medical and psychological professionals who advised against the move;
MCFD purposely disregarded the excellent record of care by the BC foster family, and the child’s superior development during her first three years with her foster family;
The MCFD fabricated charges against the foster parents, and created sham procedures by which to justify intolerable delays in finalizing a permanent placement for the child, by moving her from her psychological family in B.C. to another foster home with strangers in Ontario.
The MCFD procedure began as an adoption to the Ontario family until faced with the law forbidding this, and ultimately called placement with new foster parents;
MCFD in spite of the move being a fostering relationship have insisted that the child refer to the new foster parents as “mommy and daddy,” while insisting that her de facto psychological parents in B.C. be referred to only by their first names.
MCFD's confused bureaucratic manoeuvrings validated by B.C. Courts, gives the appearance that the Courts are complicit in this flawed and insulting treatment of a vulnerable child.
Monday, October 31, 2016
This is the complete document containing four earlier segments that demonstrate how MCFD purposed to send SS from B.C. to ONT., regardless of regulations that should have prevented this action.
MCFD ERRED IN MÉTIS CHILD'S CASE
What influenced the Director of the Ministry of Children and Family Development to arrive at the decision to remove an almost three-year-old girl named SS from her Métis foster parents in B.C. with whom she has been since birth, in order to send her to live with non-Metis parents in Ontario, where her two Métis siblings live? Let's begin with the foundation that each of the two placement options in this case, the BC home and the Ontario home are good homes for this child.
That last sentence may reveal the decisive factor, the genealogical kinship. In this child's case you may agree that it was not enough to justify MCFD's choice. Using the Ministry's own legislated and documented criteria for determining placements, I will now tell you why the MCFD decision was unreasonable, and not in the child's best interests.
First, the regulation states that preference is shown for a placement that permits a child's contact with birth parents in order to enrich the child's sense of identity, provided that birth parents welcome the contact. A beneficial relationship was already established between the child and the birth parents in the same B.C. city during the three years she has lived with the Metis foster parents in B.C. In fact, these birth parents in B.C. are open and have repeatedly begged that the foster parents be allowed to adopt their child. Distance makes it impossible to maintain such quality contact with the family in Ontario and no attempt was made by either Ontario foster parents or birth parents.
Second, consideration is given to the child's physical, intellectual, and emotional needs and to her level of development. A professional appraisal revealed that irreparable damage would result to these aspects of the child's life if a move involved this significant trauma of removal from the foster family and a move to strangers in Ontario. In her B.C. foster home these needs were met for the first thirty months and her development progressed above norms.
Third, is the importance of continuity in care. In the child's B.C. home, her continuity of care was uninterrupted until MCFD removed her in preparation for her transport to Ontario. That interruption was justified in the belief that the long term benefits of three sisters together will outweigh the loss of these formative years.
Fourth, is the importance of a positive relationship with a parent as well as a secure sense of being a member of the family. SS was firmly established in her B.C. family consisting of foster mom and dad and older grown children. When the decision to move the child was being considered by MCFD and when BC foster parents contested this before the court in 2016, the child had no relationship with the prospective adoptive parents in Ontario or the two older Métis sibling sisters whom SS had never met. There was then and there may still be a high probability that a 'positive relationship' cannot develop with the other sibling girls.
Fifth, is the importance of preserving the child's cultural identity. The Ontario parental couple has not been in a position to preserve Métis culture. In distinction the B.C. foster family are committed to the preservation of the child's Métis identity and have taken steps to encourage this. The B.C. Metis Federation has been active and outspoken in their support of the child being kept with her Métis family and with part of the Métis community in her home province.
Sixth is the preservation of the child's cultural, racial, linguistic and spiritual heritage. The Ontario parents, upright and well intentioned for SS, are not themselves of Métis heritage. With respect to their two adopted Métis sisters, no evidence exists of a continuing identification with the Métis community. There is no reason to believe that SS can have her heritage preserved in her new home. In the B.C. foster family, LM, the foster mom has Métis cultural heritage, and she and the child were well connected to the B.C. Métis Federation, community life and ceremonies. Furthermore, the Métis birth father is in Victoria and easily accessible.
Seventh, is consideration of the effect on the child because of a delay in making a decision about her future. Delays were created by the MCFD's repeated extensions of a Temporary Care Order (TCO), as though this was a probationary period for the foster parents and the foster child. Yet the child came to LM and RB when she was three days old and was with them for almost three years and no probationary period was required, and she could have been adopted to these foster parents as they requested, except for the Director’s refusal to consider this.
Eighth, is the Parenting Capacity of each parenting couple. Both parenting couples enjoy reputations as good and responsible parents. In Ontario, both parents have full-time jobs and the two sibling sisters have special needs. In B.C. both parents are employed full time but at home, and the mother (LM) is certified in ECE and Infant and Toddler Care and Special Needs.
Ninth, consideration is given to the other members of a family, the extended family. I have no information about the Métis sisters' interaction with extended family members of the Ontario family. In the B.C. foster family there are two older sisters and two older brothers. These sisters are committed to the care of SS and one of them has certification in childcare. One of the brothers is particularly attached to SS and she to him.
Tenth, is the matter of the siblings, and the possible value or merit of seeing all three placed together. Most jurisdictions recognize that when two or more bonded siblings are in need of placement, for whatever unfortunate circumstance, a humane consideration requires that their trauma not be increased by splitting them up into separate homes. This situation does not apply to SS. The two “biological” sibling sisters were born in Ontario and have been total strangers to SS, who was born in B.C. when her birth parents moved there. One professional opinion states that there is high probability/risk that there will be failure to bond and failure therefore of adoption. In this regard, LM and RB expressed commitment to helping SS meet her siblings when she would be deemed stable in her present B.C. home and able to understand the nature of such a meeting.
Eleventh, is the matter of Territoriality/regionality. LM and RB as well as the birth parents live in B.C. where the child named SS was born. The B.C. Adoption Act requires placement of a child in B.C. In order to affect the move to Ontario, MCFD manipulated existing legislation. The only language used by the MCFD for many months was “adoption”. When the Supreme Court ruled that the Adoption Act means what it says, and that adoption of a B.C. child cannot legally occur in another province, and by residents of another province, the MCFD abruptly changed its language to “guardianship” in Ontario, and later to a “foster parent agreement.” Surprisingly, the B.C. Courts have accepted this deviation by the MCFD. While initially, SS has been sent to Ontario as a foster child with foster parents, the clear intention is that she will be adopted under Ontario Adoption legislation and with that comes loss of control by B.C. Further, the understanding is that B.C. must reimburse Ontario for a monthly supplementary grant to adoptive parents for this out of province sibling.
Thursday, October 27, 2016
MCFD'S CALL IS BAD FOR SO MANY REASONS (part 4 of 4)
MCFD Erred Gravely In Métis Child's Case
A three-year-old Métis girl named SS was removed by MCFD from her Métis foster parents in B.C. with whom she has been since birth, in order to send her to live with non-Metis parents in Ontario, where her two Métis siblings live? This was ill-advised.
Using the Ministry's own legislated and customarily stated criteria for determining placements, I am showing you why the MCFD decision was unreasonable, and therefore not in the child's best interests. For the past three days, you have read explanations 1-3, 4-6, and 7-9. Today completes this series.
Tenth, is the matter of the siblings, and the possible value or merit of seeing all three placed together. Most jurisdictions recognize that when two or more bonded siblings are in need of placement, for whatever unfortunate circumstance, a humane consideration requires that their trauma not be increased by splitting them up into separate homes. This situation does not apply to SS. The two “biological” sibling sisters in Ontario have been total strangers to SS, and the professional opinion is there is high probability/risk that there will be failure to bond and failure therefore of adoption. In this regard, LM and RB have been committed to helping SS meet her siblings as she would become stable in her present B.C. home and able to understand the nature of such a meeting.
Eleventh, is the matter of Territoriality/regionality. LM and RB as well as the birth parents live in B.C. where the child named SS was born. The B.C. Adoption Act requires placement of a child in B.C. Simply put, in order to affect the move to Ontario, MCFD found it necessary to manipulate existing legislation. For many months the only language used by the MCFD was “adoption”. When the Supreme Court ruled that the Adoption Act means what it says, and that adoption of a B.C. child cannot legally occur in another province, and by residents of another province, the MCFD abruptly changed their strategy to describe the move to Ontario as a “guardianship”, and later as a “foster parent agreement.” Surprisingly, the B.C. Courts have accepted this deviation by the MCFD. While initially, SS has been sent to Ontario as a foster child with foster parents, the clear intention is that she will be adopted under Ontario Adoption legislation and with that comes loss of control by B.C. Further, the understanding is that B.C. must reimburse Ontario for a monthly supplementary grant to adoptive parents for this out of province sibling.
Twelfth, and this is merely offered for reason of comparison on the matter of Financials. It is not to suggest motive. In Ontario a monthly non-taxable stipend of $950 is paid for each sibling until the child reaches 19 years of age. It is expected that the Ontario family is entitled to this income for SS now that she is in the Ontario care program. There has been no financial incentive to the foster family in B.C. who support this child.
(this concludes the four part document)