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Rally calls for more CAS accountability

Wayne Reddick, Marilyn Koren, Jamie Sullivan, Velvet Martin, Brenda Everall, Christian Everall, Debra Sadler, Kelly LaBec and Sylva McLaughlin show their support during the Picton rally. Bill Samuel photos

By Bill Samuel
A ‘Picton Rally for CAS Accountability’ welcomed advocates for children welfare reform Tuesday afternoon.

Linda Plourde explains the need for accountabilty of the Children's Aid Societies across Canada.

Alfredine (Linda) Plourde and her small band of advocates began touring Ontario in mid-July. After making two stops in Belleville, they met at the Prince Edward County Community Centre with a small group of County and area residents advocating for Children Aid Society accountability. Lead by local advocate Brenda Everall, they travelled to the Children’s Aid Society’s offices for a private meeting with director Bill Sweet.
Ontario is the only province in Canada that doesn’t allow the Ontario Ombudsman to investigate Children’s Aids Societies, hospitals, long-term care facilities, nursing homes and school boards. The group notes it is not trying to get rid of the CAS, just trying to improve the services.

“In the matter of our most precious resource, our children, excessive oversight is impossible.” said Everall.

“Children’s Aid was created to protect the children,” said Plourde. “You have a good thing that has gone bad. It has become toxic.”

‘Protecting Canadian Children’ was started about three years ago.  Plourde was motivated by her experience with the Catholic Children’s Aid Society becoming involved with her daughter and grandson to start speaking out for change in the system. She is touring Ontario this summer to raise public awareness of the need for increased accountability and transparency within children’s services.

Velvet Martin discusses the loss of children's lives while in Children's Aid Society's care.

Velvet Martin is touring with Plourde. Her severely disabled 13-year-old daughter Samantha died unexpectedly after being in care for more than 10 years. She had returned to her parents’ care six months before her death.

“She had 10 years of seizures that went untreated and the foster mother was approached by medical professionals, schools and myself, and she said I didn’t see any myself,” she said. “My daughter received seven broken bones, three of them were in her femur, and I learned, following the fact, that my little girl died of a heart attack at age 13.”

Martin said she wanted to expose the misconceptions attached to losing a child to protective services.
“The majority of people believe in the stigma of somebody must have done something wrong,” she said. “It happens to middle-class people, it happens to professional people, and I think the public needs to become aware of that… They say there are protocols in place (to protect the children),” said Martin. “When there is no culpability and the protocols are breached it doesn’t serve as a prevention.”

Jamie Sullivan with a photo of her daughter who died in Children's Aid Society care after 6 days.

Martin was instrumental in the establishment of “Samantha’s Law” which separated The Family Support for Children with Disabilities Program from that of child protection services.

The tour is to continue until Oct. 27, 2011 ending in Toronto.

Photos and stories on display of children from across the nation who have lost their lives while in CAS care.

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  1. Hilary Lezizidis says:

    There was a foster placement in Brighton, years ago that abused a little girl. My brother was surprised at the little girl, outside at 6 am in her pyjamas, and bare feet in the middle of winter, He thought she had gone outside and the door locked and she couldn’t get back in.
    He was on his way to work. but he stopped and went and asked the little girl why she was outside.
    She said the foster parents had thrown her own side because she wet the bed. and that is what happens to pets that wet the floor or bed.
    My brother knocked on the door, and spoke to them and they admitted they put her outside.
    My brother phoned the C.A.S. and they were charged.
    In conclusion, The C.A.S. must do random checks, not announce went they are going to visit.
    both in the foster homes and in parental home,
    They also need check to see if there are previous files, on the abuser, and re-open if there is a file.
    This would cut down the number of abusers and also the expenses, for lawyers, court costs, and the number of children in care.
    I would think that abusers would think twice if files were re-opened and random checks were done.
    It may be a little more time consuming doing random checks in the beginning but I beleive in the long run it would save time and money.

  2. Hilary Lezizidis says:

    I totally agree that a complete overall of the system is necessary.
    I also agree that there is a shortage of funding and the number of children in there care has maybe tripled.
    However there are many reasons why it has tripled and there is a shortage of funding.
    1. Young people today have learned to work the system. they know all the ins and outs.
    2. When children have been taken into custody , there is nothing stopping the abusive person having more children, or giving care to another partners children because the files from the first children are not re opened. I only found this out recently.
    3. When a complaint is made and it is investigated and the children are let back into that home again. or even put in foster care. The workers announce that they are coming at a certain day and certain time. Giving that abuser heads up. and all prepared, How many children are put at risk or even died yet again. The C.A.S. was checking on them and found nothing wrong. Of course not when an announcement of their visit is made.
    I do know this because I took custody of two little girls, I had told the C.A.S. there was something not right, on many occasions, but each time they visited everything was in order. but then I discovered something and I threatened the C.A.S. I said I wanted those little girls apprehended , that day, and if they didn’t and anything happened to them, I would name every worker that had been involved. They did apprehend them. but the abuser, went on the have three more, and then they were apprehended, and returned and then became adults, and two more were taken away, that belonged to another partner. This abuser, was told that if her daughter still lived in the same house when her daughter was born the baby would be apprehended. When the C.A.S. worker was question about why the abuser was allowed to get away with all these abuses . The answer was well we are not allowed to re-open a file once its closed. because each incident is classes as a new case, even though its the same abuser.

  3. Jessica Larabee says:

    Why is it that if a child lives with their natural parents and the child dies as a result of abuse or neglect it usually takes hours for an investigation to be completed and people to be arrested…but if the child is in the system and the child dies as a result of neglect or abuse it often takes YEARS until there is an investigation? (If any) Why? Did you also know that NO body can investigate CAS, including the Ombudsman of Ontario?

    Also, did you know that recent test calls to the CAS’s indicates that most CAS’s don’t receive training on LGBTQ issues. According to the HRC, trans people are the most discriminated and disadvantaged group in society. According to a program titled In The Life, children are coming out earlier, and earlier, but the Institutions that are supposed to care for these young children are not always trained to accept who they are, or who they may become. Did you know that in one Ontario group home the staff called the police more than 400 times in one year, according to Margo Kelly at CBC news? This is a national crisis. Please lets really make it better, because homophobia is killing our youth. Join us on Facebook. We are a wealth of information about the Children’s AId Society. Facebook group: “Stop the Children’s Aid Society from abusing LGBTQ youth”.

  4. Jessica Larabee says:

    Why is it that if a child lives with their natural parents and the child dies as a result of abuse or neglect it usually takes hours for an investigation to be completed and people to be arrested…but if the child is in the system and the child dies as a result of neglect or abuse it often takes YEARS until there is an investigation? (If any) Why? Did you also know that NO body can investigate CAS, including the Ombudsman of Ontario?

  5. makel kneel says:

    Other than the children’s aid society who else can you go to its a lot of complaints from people saying how corrupt they are(and from what i see its true)why isn’t it a way we can get rid of it or throw it to government controlled department. i would want all issues to be investigated knowing that they get paid every time they take a child that just breeds corruption

  6. T.McIntyre says:

    CAS is nothing more than an extension of the Residential Schools assimilation program. Don’t cry to the public that your budget has been cut when you have spent more money litigating/bankrupting parents than you have keeping kids safe. The real story about CAS is told in rehabs., remands., homeless shelters, mental health facilities, ….need I go on? I am shocked by the stories of horrible abuse kids suffer in ‘care.’ Earnest, please, well meaning misguided soul, please consider the logic of keeping families together! Even if they are below your standard. As it stands, CAS is fueling an industry (and yes folks, a private corporation) of disenfranchised folks that populate our ‘charitable’ organizations. We have laws that protect children from abuse, it’s called the police. CAS answers to no one and we can’t do anything about it. But not for long. Constitutional, Charter Rights, who cares? Well we parents do. And Earnest quit stealing our kids. Are you understanding this msg. and the point of the rally?

  7. I too would like to see the cas hung by the neck.

    visit 8sam66 ( google) my signs

    must have accountability of sadistic perverted , judges, lawyers and policticians who look the other way , while
    these monster rape and pillagae one mlliion children and families.

    my web stite listen to Nancy schaefer speak

  8. Ernest Horvath says:

    The funding has been severly cut for CAS.
    Workers have far too many files that they carry with them.
    The turn over rate is very high.
    My heart goes out to those that have had tragic personally stories.
    But keep in mind these CAS follow ministry guidelines.
    So if you have an issue , I think the government is who this battle is with. Because they also provide the funding.
    It is unfortunate that we even require a CAS at all.
    You will be shocked at how many children that go school that are physically , mentally and sexually abused.
    Children that are exposed to things that a child should never be exposed to.
    Alcoholism , drug addiction , and the lifestyle that this includes.
    I am in no way lumping these people protesting into this group.
    I just think that it is very sad that we have the need for CAS and that they are even in schools now.
    It is also sad that instead of requiring less workers , we obviously need more.
    Accountability must be had on all sides.

  9. Susan M Doey says:

    Susan (Taking back our Families)

  10. Jen says:

    Velvet, Linda, Jaime and Marilyn, you mommas rock. Keep on fighting the good fight!
    POWER to those who refuse to sit idly by!

  11. Anne Patterson says:

    Thank you to all that are advocating for oversight of the CAS. I have been advocating for this measure as well for years. The NDP is the only political party that is fully supportive of Ombudsman oversight in Ontario, a measure that is direly needed and long overdue. These agencies have no oversight to speak of and the system needs to change and be held to account. Far too many children are suffering and dying in so called care.

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