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Sunday, February 16, 2014

Is the Canadian child protection system broken?

Albertans might well be wondering if the child protection systems in Canada are falling apart. Well they might. In December the Calgary Herald / Edmonton Journal ran a series of articles detailing concerns arising from the deaths of children in care. This was followed by Alberta Human Services Minister Bhullar announcing even more deaths.  Recently Justice Ted Hughes’ report into the death of Phoenix Sinclair in Manitoba was released. He determined the death was preventable by the very system that should have saved her. This past week, the Coroner's Jury made 103 recommendations to arising from the death of Jeffrey Baldwin in Toronto a decade ago.

Jeffrey Baldwin

Canada has had over 50 public inquiries into children who have been killed or harmed while child protection has been involved in their lives. Each report has detailed errors made by social workers. Each has left readers shaking their heads that professionals could have done such a bad job. The reports, of course, only focus on the “big” cases where things have gone badly wrong. Truly, these are stories that deserve to be told. They should not be hidden from the public as no system can sustain any level of confidence when it is not open to scrutiny. Such reviews though should highlight what goes well and what does not. The stories of the successes also need to be told such as the three young women at the Minister Bhullar’s roundtable on child protection who have spent significant parts of their lives in the care of child welfare. These young adults who are taking steps to transition into adulthood showed their individual strength overcoming adversity. They had the support of an effective child protection system.

Child protection is hard work. Imagine showing up at a family’s home, knocking on the door and announcing that you are there to investigate an allegation of abuse or neglect. You cross a boundary. We view the family unit as a basic of society that should largely be left alone to get on with the task of being a family. Child protection steps into that world with the force of law. The social workers will need to determine if the child is safe and, if not, what needs to be done to ensure that child’s safety. Sometimes, that means removing the child from parental care for a temporary period. In a small but profound number of cases, that may lead to the permanent removal of the child. Even when parents have acted quite dangerously towards their children, these removals are almost always traumatic for both parents and children. There is a delicate balance between sustaining the family unit and achieving safety.

There are checks and balances. A child protection worker removing a child is subject to the scrutiny of the courts. For the parent who has lost their child, that can be little solace as they wander down the hall and stare at the empty bed that only a few hours ago was occupied by their child.

Imagine, however, if there were no child protection system. There would be more children dying at the hands of caregivers. Simply put, there would be more stories like Phoenix Sinclair. That is not a world that appeals to me. A child protection system that is not subject to review is equally unappetizing as there can be no belief except by faith that they are getting it right. Courts are one way that scrutiny happens. As the roundtable noted, there needs to be more transparency. The public should be able to get data that tells them how the system is doing.

Phoenix Sinclair

Yet, there is no child protection system that can guarantee that another child will not be seriously harmed or killed by a caregiver. This is very human work in which social workers must make decisions with highly imperfect information. There are no tools, nor will there ever be, that can come even close to absolutely predicting the risk that a parent presents. There is only probability. To expect that social workers can prevent all deaths of children by parents is to expect the impossible.

Child protection also cannot solve poverty, unemployment and lack of appropriate resources across this country. Yet, child protection is asked to pick up the pieces of these social problems. Thousands of children would not be in care if these problems were better addressed.

If we want better child protection services, fund them appropriately so that case loads are manageable, prevention and healing work is achievable and bring in social programs that will help to reduce the need for child protection across Canada. This also means that the federal government must start funding First Nations child welfare programs at the same rates that provincial programs are funded. Why should an Aboriginal child on a reserve receive less funding than a child under provincial authority?

The system is not broken, but it is certainly imperfect. Thus it must be transparent. The Calgary Herald and Edmonton Journal took four years to get the records on child deaths. That is just wrong and erodes public confidence.


  1. Is the System broken? A resounding, YES. Will increased funding to an already shattered platform assist? NO. On the surface, monies appear to be a viable solution, however, the unfortunate reality is, supports never reaches the intended recipients who can benefit: The children. Increased funds mask symptoms; simply resulting in further apprehensions, caseloads and further failures, including fatalities. We are functioning as a reactive society as opposed to proactively responding to situations from a family-centred care perspective from which empowerment can develop through prevention by allocating resources directly to those in need. Well-spoken by Julie Gates: "The audacity to mention success in the wake of these crimes is an unforgivable injury to insult to the families of these victims. It is the height of arrogance and insensitivity to divert the nations shame and the families grief in this rare moment of shock, truth and revelation of how deep these wounds go. There is no apology, no humility, no honest acknowledgement of the pain. This leaves no room for healing, or collective consideration of our massive failure as a nation, to these innocent, helpless souls. I am ashamed of being a Canadian and intolerant of people pretending what a great country we live in- n comparison to those worse off. It is a sorry means of measure. Lies, cover-ups, murder and failures of this magnitude are nothing to be proud of. Anyone who believes otherwise is deluding themselves. God forgive us all; we have not yet learned to value life; an accusation we used to level at others only to find ourselves guilty of the same offenses." re:

    1. lies, coverups murder and failures that have been plaguing the CPS /DOCS for decades. Children keep dying because CPS spends too much time and resources NOT caring about the children its SUPPOSED To protect. PHYSICAL, SEXUAL abuse. Concentrate on following your own guidelines and YOU WILL HAVE ENOUGH RESOURCES> well-said Velvet!

    2. The pay cheque for the administrators to these government paid agencies is astronomical.$$$$$$$$ = corruption. They have the power of God and are accountable to no one.

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    4. This has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with agencies "needing extra funds or extra cash to operate correctly".

      It has everything to do with Child Protective Services CPS - Foster Care SOCIAL SERVICES AGENCIES which have operated with very little scrutiny over the last 50 years and as a result have become LAWLESS, RECKLESS and EXTREMELY DANGEROUS for all children.

      Most of these agencies operate in manners where they can openly Modify, Alter and Erase INFORMATION from their protected government DATA BANKS - which has compounded the situation of RISK for any child as the agency knows that it can do whatever it wants to any child, parent and family - knowing at any given moment << that it can enter into it's PROTECTED GOVERNMENT DATA BANK - AND ERASE any and all RECORDS which clearly indicate WHAT said social service agency MAY HAVE BEEN DONE TO A CHILD - which may have SEVERELY HARMED or even KILLED said child.

      Since they have been bred from a culture which was for the longest of time "EXEMPT from conducting themselves in a lawful manner" - as well as "carrying on administrative tasks and duties in a manner demonstrating the BEST INTERESTS OF THE CHILD" .... - they are now waking up in the middle of town square and feeling EXPOSED as their immoral, unethical and at times CRIMINAL manners in which they operate - have only recently been coming to light - allowing the public to clearly see how LAWLESS, RECKLESS and DANGEROUS these social services agencies truly are for any child, parent or family member which they come into contact with.

      When these agencies can VIOLATE THE HUMAN RIGHTS of the very children that they are LAWFULLY MANDATED TO PROTECT and commit CRIMINAL ACTS towards everyday normal loving and caring children, parents and entire families - RECRUITING THEM INTO THE CANADIAN Child Protective Services - Foster Care NETWORKS arbitrarily, - and this without any form of negative consequences whatsoever ..... - the time has come to INVESTIGATE and ACT accordingly.

      Society cannot permit agencies who are lawfully mandated to PROTECT CHILDREN .............. to literally "do the opposite" and actually DESTROY these CHILDREN instead.

      PLEASE ACT ACCORDINGLY. THE CHILDREN NEED YOUR HELP AND THEY NEED IT NOW. GIVING THEM MORE MONEY IS NOT THE ANSWER - as they already drive ultra expensive SUV's, frequently take expensive vacations to world wide exotic places, enjoy all the possible perks and benefits that most of society cannot afford....

      THIS VERY DANGEROUS SITUATION TOWARDS ALL CHILDREN, PARENTS AND SOCIETY ALIKE - CAN AND WILL ONLY BE DEALT WITH AND CURBED WHEN THE GOVERNMENT ASSUMES RESPONSIBILITY for these LAWLESS, RECKLESS AND DANGEROUS AGENCIES - and the GOVERNMENT authorizes and begins PROSECUTING the higher ups this for what appears to be happening throughout CANADA as we speak - namely that Social Services - Foster Care agencies Canada wide are engaging in the ACT OF HUMAN TRAFFICKING - recruiting innocent, vulnerable and helpless CHILDREN into the Child Protective - Foster Care NETWORKS for profit - as all agencies get paid on a PER CHILD BASIS ... meaning they get paid for each child in the system. Once children are brought into the system through immoral, unethical and criminal ways .... the agency then refuses to spend a dime on them to assist and help that family - BUT DOES SPEND A VAST AMOUNT OF MONEY ON LAWYERS - who immediately begin silencing the family from exposing "how they were FORCIBLY RECRUITED INTO THE SOCIAL SERVICES - FOSTER CARE NETWORK UNJUSTLY.


  2. You hit the nail on the head when you said "Child protection also cannot solve poverty, unemployment and lack of appropriate resources across this country. " These things need to have money and resources poured into them, not child protective services.
    As Velvet said in her comment above mine, "Increased funds mask symptoms; simply resulting in further apprehensions, caseloads and further failures, including fatalities."

    In a society where we pay lip service to protecting our children, there are horror stories that reach the news, but what about the ones that never make the news headlines?

    The kids that are damaged by being taken from families because they poor? Because they don't have access to things that even the child protective services don't in the end provide, or because the local CAS believe that the way a parent is raising a child is not to their liking? (even though legally the parents are within their rights to raise a child as they see fit provided they break no laws in that regard) the kids that CAS won't acknowledge are being abused in their foster care/group home situation, so no investigation is ever carried out.
    The system that has so little faith in it's own ability to provide excellent child rearing, targets the adult children that were raised in the system.

    The system is broken, it needs to admit this and look at where things need to be fixed to provide children with the best possible platform for their parents to be able to raise them in a family environment.

    Child protection services don't need more money, families do and the timely resources to help children the children who are in need.

  3. Unfortunately this is a very rosy view. There are no checks and balances. The first court appearance no evidence is presented. The lawyer and the parent are not allowed to speak. There are no concrete guidelines the decision to remove a child is subjective to the social worker and the only threshold is that the child could be unsafe.It is a fallacy that there needs to be immediate danger to the child because an amendment to the statute states that the worker may define the term unsafe in a broad and lateral way as they see fit. The ministry routinely has orders signed by judges after hours without notifying the parent. The child is legally aloud to be interrogated with out anyone else present. The Ministry can and do routinely hold children for over a year while they complete thier investigations. problem here is that the social workers in essence hold children hostage until such time as they can either provide evidence given by scared and harrassed family members or force illegal tests that are deemed "voluntary". This is the same type of voluntary as when you hand over your wallet to a gun toting thief. I have irefutable evidence of the complicity of our judges and lawyers in this blatent disreguard for our constitutional rights. Only the ministries position is ever heard and when and if you refuse to succumb to invasive testing your own lawyerr willsay thaat you better or the judge will assume your guilty as well you will be denied any access to your children. Family squabbles are used to foster more alienation. Going so far as to place children with family members the parents have expressed extreme difficulty in getting along or alleged abusive behavior against. They force mental health assessments and use things such as a past abortions or drug and alcohol treatment against you no matterr how long ago they may have happened. The new adoption fast tracking and online upddates and photos of children who will be becoming available is probably one of the most disturbing upgrades to the system. I agree that if a child is being abused we need to provide safety. What i fail to understand or agree with is that not one charge is ever laid in these cases. If the damage to the child warrants removal then criminal charges should be given as well if not then how can anyone justify the disruption and trauma associated with removal. Especially since statistically a child has a 70 % chance of abuse in care. Taking children because. A parent is accused of being a functioning addict. Or because there is domestic violence. Or because the child or parent have medical issues will not help solve these issues. By the time the children are returned if ever the damage to the parents credibility is done. The children have been terrorized and forced to agree. With the social workers agenda. Without. Ever getting independant council. Our child protection is nothing more then human trafficking there are so few success stories amongst thousands of horror stories. Can we say the ends justify the means how many children need to be destroyed emotionally to save one child from abuse. How many is an acceptable number. How many.loving parents should be left alone standing beside a grave of tthier innocent child to protect the jobs of lawyers court clerks judges and a whole ministry of the goverment of each province.

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