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Ombudsman oversight is desperately needed for Ontario's Childrens Aid Societies

Friday, March 29, 2013 - ChildProtection - Curtis Kingston

Over the years Ontario’s children and families have had to endure horrific encounters with an unregulated and unaccountable private organization with funding models that create perverse incentives to destroy families.

Contrary to popular belief, every Children's Aid Society in the province of Ontario is a privately run organization that receives there funding from the government based on the number of children in their care and the number of files open on families.

This flawed funding model was recently publicized in a Toronto Star article on 03/14/2013 that exposed in a leaked memo, the Peel Region CAS asked their staff to keep cases open for the sole purpose of retaining funding.

As of April 1st 2013, this funding model is changing but unfortunately it is only changing for the worse. According to the Simcoe County CAS Executive Director, Susan Carmichael, the funding will only change by using a three year average of case files instead of every year and they will also be introducing boosts in funding for cases involving minorities such as low-income families, lone-parent families and aboriginal children". This means that one of the only major changes in this new model is going to give the CAS even more incentive to be unnecessarily involved with minorities.

These flawed funding models and the severe lack of oversight or accountability have resulted in these organizations regularly acting outside of the law and morals to unnecessarily keep files open on families and to apprehend children from their homes not based on child protection concerns but rather their own financial gain.

In a recent MCYS operational review of the PECCAS that was completed in January 2012, it was found that the Ontario average for CAS compliance with the Child and Family Services Act was only 66%. That means that on average Ontario CAS's are acting outside of the law 34% of the time.

Most CAS spokespeople state in the media that apprehension of children is always a last resort, but it has came to light that this is simply untrue. Canada Court Watch has obtained documents that prove that the Highland Shores Children’s Aid Society has on at least one occasion applied for a warrant to apprehend children but based on the lack of any verified child protection concerns, the warrant request was denied.
Later that same day, against the direct order of the court, the HSCAS apprehended the children anyway with complete disregard for the law or the well being of these children. The law does allow a CAS to apprehend children without a warrant under emergency circumstances if the CAS feels a child is in severe danger and there is no time to apply for a warrant.

In this case there was more than ample time for such a request as it was denied. Therefore the CAS did not apprehend the children legally but rather may have committed criminal offences by apprehending children after the warrant request was denied.

Then once children are taken into the “care” of a CAS, they are supposed to be taken to a place of safety where children should be in a better situation than they were in previously, but unfortunately this is often not the case either. In recent years the Prince Edward County CAS has been under public scrutiny due to the fact that there have been a total of 6 former PEC foster parents charged and 3 convicted of sex crimes against children.

In the MCYS Operational Review of the PECCAS that was completed in January 2012, it showed that the PECCAS had multiple failures that lead to the lives of innocent children being forever destroyed at the hands of their foster parents.

It was found that as of January 2012, the PECCAS did not have one foster home or group home that was legally considered a place of safety for children. This was largely due to the lack of full criminal record checks of foster parents in their jurisdiction. The PECCAS was proven to have failed the children in their care but yet not one worker or staff member of the PECCAS was held accountable for the horrors that took place due to their negligence and lack of ability to protect children.

These issues exist not only because CAS's are private organizations or due to the severely flawed funding models, but rather these issues exist due to the severe lack of any oversight or accountability.

That in combination with the flawed funding models are why these organizations are often not acting in the best interest of children, but rather for their own financial gain.

At this time, there is a bill that has just passed its first reading in the Ontario Legislature (Bill 42) that would allow our Ombudsman the authority to investigate complaints about CAS's in Ontario just as the Ombudsman does in other provinces. Ontario is the only Province in Canada where the Ombudsman is not authorized to investigate child welfare and this bill, if past would give child welfare in Ontario the same accountability as every other province in our country.

I encourage every member of the public to contact their local MPP’s to show your support for Bill 42 and the oversight and accountability of CAS's in Ontario, as these organizations need to have oversight and accountability to be able to operate fairly and keep them in line and working in the best interest of children which sadly is often not the case at this time.

Ontario desperately needs this change because at the end of the day, this is our children we are talking about here and our children are our future.

Curtis Kingston is a full time volunteer advocate for a group called Canada Court Watch where he along with other devoted and well educated advocates, help children and families in regards to child protection matters. He also devotes an enormous amount of time raising awareness on the flaws of the child protection industry and has been very successful so far. Curtis has ran several businesses in the past and has allot of knowledge on the ins and outs of allot of different industry's. He also has a passion for writing about these industry and topics and writes great articles to inform the public of the truth and not just the one sided opinion of some other journalists.

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Friday, March 29, 2013
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