Hot! Groups want CAS oversight

TheWhig.com – news/local
July 16, 2013.   By Elliot Ferguson, Kingston Whig-Standard

The agency tasked with safeguarding children was in the sights of a coalition of protest groups Tuesday afternoon.

About 25 members of Idle No More, the Kingston Coalition Against Poverty (KCAP), the Kingston and Quinte Area Citizens for Accountability and End the Prison Industrial Complex (EPIC) gathered on the lawn in front of the Division Street offices of the Family and Children’s Services of Frontenac, Lennox and Addington.

The groups were protesting a number of issues they have with the agency, including what they say is a lack of accountability and oversight, abnormally high numbers of First Nations children in care and policies that target children in families in poverty.

“Children’s Aid Societies are not held accountable to anyone. You can’t call up an organization to investigate them,” said Curtis Kingston of the Kingston and Quinte Area Citizens for Accountability.

“What we’re doing now is trying to promote ombudsman oversight,” he said.

“Ontario is the only province in the country that does not allow the ombudsman to investigate schools, hospitals, long-term care facilities, universities and police services.”

The organization is circulating a petition in support of Bill 42, Ontario New Democratic MPP Monique Taylor’s private member’s bill which would give the Ontario ombudsman more authority over child welfare organizations.

Beth Newell of Idle No More said the placing of native children with non-native foster families is one of the biggest issues facing First Nations in Canada.

“This might, to some, not seem like a big thing but the impacts are massive,” Newell said.

“It is considered an act of genocide under the Geneva Convention.”

“The CAS tends to target low income families and families obviously living in poverty,” said Aimee Van Vlack, president of KPAC.

“The CAS goes into these homes where they accuse people of not having enough food but their rates of disability or Ontario Works aren’t high enough that they can’t actually afford enough food so they rely on food banks.”

Van Vlack said money spent on foster families should be reallocated to better support families living in poverty.

< http://www.thewhig.com/2013/07/16/groups-want-cas-oversight >

1 Comment

  1. Lack of accountability and oversight has been questioned in regards to these Children’s Aid offices. The Authors are suggesting that Children’s Aid Societies are not held accountable to anyone and that there is no one you can contact if they are in need of an investigation. However, in reality CAS is provided a minimum level of performance for protection workers that outline a baseline within the Ministry of Children and Youth Service’s accountability framework. Also the Child and Family Services Review Board conduct reviews and hearings on a number of matters that affect children, youth and families within Ontario. This review board operates under the jurisdiction of the Child and Family Services Act, Education Act and Intercountry Adoption Act.
    The Authors stated that Monique Taylor (Ontario’s NPD) put forward a private member’s bill, which would give Ontario ombudsman more authority over child welfare organizations in 2013. However, this bill has not yet passed and currently remains within the committee stage. This perhaps could be because Children’s Aid Societies are regarded as a non-government organization, allowing CAS a large degree of autonomy.
    The author’s also suggested that the placing of native children with non-native foster families is one of the biggest issues facing First Nations in Canada. They stated that it is an, ‘act of genocide’. I agree with this statement, having social workers enter reserves and apprehend children after centuries of forced assimilation is immoral. With this being said, I do believe that the Children’s Aid Society has been taking a step in the right direction. Now the society has a specific FMNI team and in order to work on this it a requirement is that you have to have native status and great understanding of the culture.
    The last point I would like to address within this article is the argument the author’s made about ‘CAS going into these homes where they accuse people of not having enough food but rates of disability or OW are not high enough to afford food’. Van Vlack suggests a solution to this issue by allocating funding from foster families to support families living in poverty. I agree with this statement, unification of a family is utmost important and by supporting families in poverty I believe this would be a proactive measure rather than a reactive support of foster care.

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