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OntarioCfA represents Children’s Aid Societies Accountability in Ontario, advocates for child welfare, and provides leadership in achieving excellence in the protection of children. We also provide Children’s Aid Society (CAS) news from around Ontario.

Boy in burned-out car had been adopted months before

Tyrese Sutherland, 10, was found dead with his adoptive father and brother after having finally left foster care in the spring

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Candles, flowers and messages were placed at the home of Samuel Masih in Mississauga last week for a vigil in honour of his two sons, whose bodies were found with his in a burned-out car near Barrie.

Tyrese Sutherland lived as a foster child for years before finally finding a permanent family of his own.

His adoption by foster parents Samuel Masih and Brintha Shanmugalingam was finalized just this spring, the Star has learned. On July 4, he was found dead in a burned-out car on a country road near Barrie, with the charred remains of his adoptive father and 4-year-old brother Santosh.

The Ontario Provincial Police are keeping the cause of death secret, but said they are “satisfied that the person responsible for the other two deaths perished in the vehicle as well.” The investigation is ongoing.

Sutherland had lived with the family for years as a foster child, but the private foster care agency that placed him said its visits ended in March, when his adoption was finalized by the Peel Children’s Aid Society.

His death will trigger a review process with the Chief Coroner’s Office that kicks in whenever a child dies within a year of having contact with a children’s aid society.

Cheryl Mahyr, coroner’s office spokesperson, couldn’t speak to this specific case, but said that typically, “the death investigations of children who were in care take a long time to conclude.” In such cases, the coroner’s office has three weeks to call for an internal CAS review, which can take up to 90 days. After that, the coroner can consider an inquest.

The Peel CAS, which has jurisdiction for the Mississauga home where Tyrese lived, would not discuss either Tyrese or Masih.

“We could never confirm whether a child was adopted,” spokesperson Lucie Baistrocchi said. Several friends and neighbours of the family have told the Star about the adoption.

Pat Convery, executive director of the Adoption Council of Ontario, had no information about Tyrese, but said she can’t recall a case where a death happened so quickly after placement.

“Everybody, I’m sure, is looking at this,” she said. “They’re looking for anything missed. Is there something that should have been seen before this child was placed for adoption?”

Convery said that, based on what she’s seen before, if Tyrese had died while in foster care the case would be almost guaranteed to trigger an inquest. “But even if he’s been with the family (for years), you want a review,” she said. “The field would want it, the adoption field. You want to know what happened.”

Tyrese began his foster care with Masih and Shanmugalingam while they were living in Trout Creek, a village 50 kilometres south of North Bay. They had purchased a house there in 2006.

“I did meet both (Masih) and his wife when they were first thinking about starting to be foster parents,” said Bob Connor, executive director of Connor Homes, the foster agency. “We thought they would make excellent foster parents, and they were.”

Connor said his agency uses the same foster-home assessment program that each CAS in the province does, and that supervisors check in with families weekly by phone and monthly in person.

After he heard Masih and the boys had been found dead, Connor said he reviewed the meeting notes his staff took with the family until the foster care situation ended. “There was nothing remarkable in them,” he said.

The couple had even flown Tyrese to Australia in the past year at their own expense so he could see a specialist about his eczema.

Peel police have said they hadn’t been called to the house prior to the missing persons report.

In the days after Masih and the boys were reported missing, several neighbours told the Star there had been recent marital problems. A classmate said Tyrese had talked of having to choose which parent he was going to live with.

Connor said the news of the deaths hit him hard. “It’s anger, it’s hurt, frustration,” he said. “You think of all the times that people were in the home … they’re checking out to see how things are and whether plans are being followed through with. And to ensure that people are safe.

“And then out of the blue, really, something happens which is unpredictable, unthought of, unheard of. It’s indescribable.”

With files from Todd Coyne and Jane Gerster

http://www.thestar.com/news/crime/2014/07/15/boy_in_burnedout_car_had_been_adopted_months_before.html


UPDATED: Superman logo will be allowed on Jeffrey Baldwin memorial

DCE

TORONTO – The Superman logo will be able to adorn a memorial statue for Jeffrey Baldwin, a boy who was starved to death by his grandparents in 2002.

Todd Boyce, the Ottawa man who fundraised for the memorial, told Global News Wednesday that DC Entertainment had reversed a previous decision and will now let the statue designer use the Superman logo.

http://globalnews.ca/news/1441021/superman-logo-will-be-allowed-on-jeffrey-baldwin-memorial/


DC Entertainment vetoes Superman logo on Jeffrey Baldwin memorial

TORONTO – DC Entertainment is refusing to allow the Superman logo to adorn a memorial statue of a Toronto boy who loved the superhero during his short life before his grandparents starved him to death.

A coroner’s inquest last winter into the death of five-year-old Jeffrey Baldwin caught the attention of an Ottawa man, who was moved by Jeffrey’s plight and wanted to pay tribute to the boy.

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Todd Boyce raised money for a statue of Jeffrey and recruited Ontario artist Ruth Abernethy – known for a Glenn Gould bronze statue on a bench on Front Street in Toronto and a bronze of Oscar Peterson outside the National Arts Centre in Ottawa – to design it.

Boyce wanted to see Jeffrey depicted in a Superman costume, harkening back to inquest testimony from Jeffrey’s father.

Before his teenage parents lost custody of Jeffrey to his maternal grandparents the little boy was very energetic and loved the superhero, Richard Baldwin testified.

“He wanted to fly,” Baldwin said. “He tried jumping off the chair. We had to make him stop. He dressed up (as Superman) for Halloween one yearaHe was so excited. I have that picture at home hanging on my wall. He was our little man of steel.”

 

But DC Entertainment – home to the comic book superhero – will not grant Boyce permission to use the Superman logo on the statue.

“It was important for me because I really felt I wanted to capture the photograph of Jeffrey wearing his Superman costume and have it as close to that as possible,” Boyce said.

“Basically they didn’t want to have the character of Superman associated with child abuse. They weren’t comfortable with that.”

Boyce said he was angry and emotional when he first learned of their refusal, but after subsequent conversations with people at the company and their lawyers, he softened his stance.

“(I) realized that the most important thing is to have a fitting monument for Jeffrey, that it’s about him,” Boyce said.

“To be fair to DC I don’t think they wanted to say no. I think they gave it serious thought.”

DC Entertainment would not comment.

Boyce said the design will be changed to have a “J” on the chest rather than the “S” of the Superman logo. The model of the statue is complete – except for the letter change – and is just now waiting for it to be cast in bronze. Boyce is hoping for a September unveiling and dedication.

One of Jeffrey’s sisters has chosen a poem to be engraved on a bench that will be part of the memorial, Boyce said. It begins with the line “I wish heaven had a phone so I could hear your voice again.”

She requested a Hot Wheels car also be incorporated and Boyce said the foundry will bronze a little car and mount it above the poem.

Jeffrey wasted away to the weight of a baby, locked in his cold, urine- and feces-stained bedroom in the Toronto home of his grandmother, his Catholic Children’s Aid Society-approved guardian.

He died on Nov. 30, 2002, weeks shy of his sixth birthday, and during the coroner’s inquest that concluded earlier this year, Jeffrey’s plight caught the attention of Boyce, a father of four and government IT worker. He raised money for the project online.

Jeffrey’s grandparents – who were convicted of second-degree murder in 2006 – had custody of Jeffrey and his three siblings. Two of them were treated relatively well, the inquest heard, but one of his sisters was subjected to the same conditions. The difference between Jeffrey and his sister was that she was allowed to go to school – the daily snack she received there likely saved her life, the inquest heard.

http://globalnews.ca/news/1436523/dc-entertainment-vetoes-superman-logo-on-jeffrey-baldwin-memorial/

© The Canadian Press, 2014

 

 


Brant CAS avoid apprehending 11-year-old New Credit girl

In a well played move by Children’s Aid Society of Brant, they elected to avoid eroding its relationship further between Six Nations who’ve been trying to take control of it’s own child protection services and have decided they won’t apprehend cancer-stricken Makayla Sault.

The 11-year-old New Credit girl recently made news when the Brant CAS became involved when she decided against chemotherapy in favour of traditional medicine.

See Video


Time to remove the Ontario Liberals to ensure oversight of the MUSH

Ontario Coalition for AccountabilityOntario desperately needs Ombudsman oversight over its MUSH sector, Municipalities, Universities, School Boards, Hospitals, Nursing Homes, Long-Term Care Facilities, Police, and it’s out of control Children’s Aid Societies.

With Andrea Horwath’s announcement to reject the Liberals budget over countless scandals, we’re now heading in to a provincial election.

Liberals have prevented accountability and Ombudsman oversight every step of the way while ignoring tens of thousands demanding accountability. For any chance of accountability, we must remove the Liberals from power.

So to continue moving forward, we again ask people consider volunteering for those MPP & Candidates supporting oversight and get people voting for change.

MPP’s who do support us.
Ontario MPP’s supporting Ombudsman Oversight of the MUSH sector


Wikwemikong to take partial control from Children’s Aid Society of the Districts of Sudbury and Manitoulin

While this may provided relief to some families, what’s most disturbing with Kina Gbezhgomi Child and Family Services (KGCFS) announcement is that this unceded territory steeped in tradition has always declared it’s independence from government and yet, hasn’t followed suite with similar communities around Ontario by completely providing their own services by equally qualified people from within their own community.

Here is the release from their website.
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Kina Gbezhgomi Child and Family Services (KGCFS) delivers Prevention Services (Child and Family Services and Community Support services) and Foster Care services in collaboration with our member First Nations. KGCFS is currently in a transitional phase towards designation as a Children`s Aid Society to also deliver Child Welfare services with our member First Nations within the Districts of Sudbury and Manitoulin.

KGCFS makes every effort to ensure all services provided are respectful of the communities  that are serviced; respectful of the culture, language, beliefs, customs and practices of the Ojibway-Odawa-Pottawatomi peoples.
To support our successful transition to child welfare services delivery, we are recruiting a professional and progressive individual to join our team in the following capacity:

Manager of Alternative Care (Full-time – Permanent)
Manages the Alternative Care Department, which includes Foster Care, Child in Care, Clinical, and Customary Care Services; Ensures compliance with Serious Occurrence reporting, Ministry audits, and Therapeutic Foster Care regulations; Coordinates the efforts of all Alternative Care departments to meet the service objectives set by KGCFS and the Ministry of Children and Youth Services (MCYS) legislation, regulations, standards and directives.
For additional information or to obtain a detailed job description, please visit our website at www.kgcfs.org/employment.

We invite applicants to submit a cover letter, resume, and three letters of reference (one  from most recent/current employer) marked confidential to:

Kina Gbezhgomi Child and Family Services
Attention: Human Resources
98 Pottawatomi Avenue, Wikwemikong, Ontario, P0P 2J0
by Email: [email protected]
by Facsimile: 705-859-2195
Closing Date: April 2, 2014 at 4:00 p.m.

All applications are appreciated; however, only those candidates selected for an interview will be contacted. The successful applicant will be required to submit a criminal reference check including a  vulnerable sector screening and a driver’s abstract.


No ‘Sunshine’ for Crown wards

Canada NewsWire

TORONTO, April 17, 2014 /CNW/ – The Ontario government is spending taxpayer money on hefty salaries instead of providing justice to the vulnerable children placed in its care.

Thousands of children in the province are placed in the care of the Ontario government as a result of a troublesome and unsafe home life. Through government-funded organizations like the Children’s Aid Society (CAS), they are promised protection and a better life.

The principal responsibility of the CAS is to ensure that these children are protected from harm. And they are earning top dollar to do so. According to the recently released Sunshine List, CAS employees making more than $100,000 totals over $71 million.

Recently, a class action lawsuit was filed against the Ontario government for its systematic failure to protect the legal rights of children who were placed in its care. Due to the government’s inaction, former Crown wards of the province did not receive any financial compensation for the unspeakable suffering they endured, both at home and then again as wards of the province.

As of yet, the government has done nothing to fix this problem. Former Crown wards are demanding the justice they should have received as children under the province’s care.

Koskie Minsky LLP


CAS vows to appeal ruling of ‘bad faith’

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April 15, 2014

The London-Middlesex Children’s Aid Society (CAS) will appeal court decisions in which it was slammed for acting “in bad faith” during a marathon custody battle and was billed $1.4 million for court costs.

The agency also stands by its decision to seek child protection from the father of three children — a decision that was dismissed by a judge after an unprecedented 154-day divorce and custody battle trial that was spread over three years — executive director Jane Fitzgerald said Monday.

“We don’t make these decisions lightly and we take into consideration the opinions of other professionals and in this case we did so,” said Fitzgerald, referring to consultations with police, women’s groups and school officials.

“We stand by our decision to seek a child protection application in this matter.”

Last week, Superior Court Justice John Harper slapped the CAS with a $1.4-million court bill and had harsh words for the agency, saying it failed to properly investigate a mother’s version of events in a divorce and custody battle, even when three children tried to alert authorities of the woman’s violence, alcoholism and manipulation.

Fitzgerald said the society was compelled to respond to the accusations.

“Quite frankly, we are concerned the public would think we are making serious decisions about a child and family without doing our diligence,” she said.

She said length of the custody trial was “unprecedented in our experience” and CAS evidence only took 15 of the 154 days.

The original decision dismissing the CAS protection order was handed down in September. At that point, the agency filed a notice of appeal, but was waiting to see the cost of the court bill — in case it was small.

“One of our considerations is that we are not adding in additional costs,” Fitzgerald said.

But the notice was filed in the “wrong court,” she said, so lawyers are preparing a new notice of appeal.

Monday afternoon, the CAS issued a news release saying it was “deeply concerned” with Harper’s decision.

“The most recent judgment regarding court costs is equally stunning and unprecedented,” the statement said.

— — —

THE CASE

  • 154-day divorce and custody battle trial was spread over three years, “unprecedented” in family law cases, CAS says.
  • The CAS child protection application was dismissed.
  • Custody of children was awarded to father.
  • Judge found CAS “acted in bad faith,” did not properly investigate mother’s claims. (CAS disputes this and says it investigated thoroughly and stands by its decisions.)
  • CAS ordered to pay $1.4 million in court costs.

 

Source:  http://www.lfpress.com/2014/04/14/cas-vows-to-defend-ruling-of-bad-faith?

Related Source:  London-Middlesex Children’s Aid Society slapped with record court costs of $1.4 million
http://www.lfpress.com/2014/04/10/london-middlesex-childrens-aid-society-hit-with-record-court-costs-of-14-million


London-Middlesex Children’s Aid Society slapped with record court costs of $1.4 million

April 10, 2014

1297448918518_ORIGINAL

The London area’s child-welfare agency has been hit with record court costs of $1.4 million, for failing to protect three boys caught in a marathon trial the judge says was marked by a manipulative mother and a father falsely cast as an abusive monster. In a just-released written decision, the judge also ordered the mother — whom he said “manipulated the court by misrepresenting the facts in order to gain an advantage” — to pay $604,478.36, or 30% of the more than $2 million court costs. The 154-day trial, over three years, was known in court halls as “the trial that never ends.” It helped build a huge backlog in London family court cases last fall, forcing officials to prioritize child-protection cases over divorce trials. In a scathing indictment of the London-Middlesex Children’s Aid Society, Superior Court Justice John Harper wrote the CAS “did not live up to (its) statutory duty to investigate thoroughly and objectively” in the case, and instead accepted the mother’s warped version as the truth. The $1.4 million is believed to be the largest financial penalty ever dished out to a child-protection agency in Ontario. The cash-strapped CAS made headlines last fall when it couldn’t balance its books. Spokesperson Michelle Bacon said the agency hadn’t reviewed the decision yet. “Once we have, we will be considering our response,” she said. The judge ruled in the case last fall, dismissing the CAS child-protection application and granting a divorce and awarding custody of the kids to the father. But not until this week were the costs dished out. “This started as a snowball of an allegation of unspecified emotional abuse that was flagged and assessed as high risk and it came crashing down on this family like an unstoppable avalanche,” Harper wrote. The CAS applied for a court order in September 2010 to protect the three boys, aged 15, 12 and 5, months after the parents separated. But the judge found the CAS became “a lead advocate” for the mother, the driving force behind the trial. Her “multiple problems” included substance abuse and “manipulations and false claims.” “(The CAS) had the statutory duty to investigate these claims through a thorough, objective and professional manner and they did not do so,” the judge said. The family’s identity is protected by court order. The erratic mother went from claiming her husband emotionally abused her, to claiming he was a sexual abuser and murderer who used his eldest child “as a gun in his hands to try to kill the mother of these three children.” Harper wrote. Recordings, text messages and e-mails showed the woman to be erratic, verbally abusive to her sons, often drunk and having at least two extra-marital affairs. In the middle were the three boys, who boomeranged between the parents. They repeatedly tried to alert the CAS to their mother’s violence, alcoholism and manipulation, only to see the agency side with her. The case spilled into the criminal courts, with the mother alleging her oldest son had tried to kill her. But a charge of attempted murder against the son never got past a preliminary hearing after the mother testified. Instead, the Crown accepted a plea to assault by the son for “excessive self-defence” from his mother. The judge dismissed the mother’s ever-shifting evidence. The agency, Harper said, tried to squelch any evidence that went against its theory the mother was a victim. A supervisor, responsible for providing lawyers in the case with CAS information, removed 475 pages of notes, records, e-mails and summaries from the file. At trial, it was revealed the mandatory document-sharing was running a year behind. Notes in the file referred to the mother as the “Society’s client.” Meetings were held to discuss how to protect her and case workers from the father. The mother also made a “most wanted poster” put up in her workplace and in her youngest son’s school file that had photos of her husband and oldest son with the words, “if you see these men, call the police they have a history of violence.” Neither father nor son was convicted of any crime until the son’s self-defence plea. Harper found the sons were in more need of protection from their mother than father. [email protected] Trial by numbers 154: Days it lasted $2,014,927.86: Total court costs $1.4M: Amount CAS ordered to pay $604,478: Amount mother ordered to pay WHAT ELSE THE JUDGE WROTE: About the mother: Serious credibility problems “drove the case to the extreme it became.” About the father: Fortunate had help “to dig out from under the avalanche thrust upon him.” About the children: “What did survive were the scars to the children . . .” About the CAS: “Acted in bad faith.” Other fallout: “This was exacerbated by the actions of the Society, some police officers, some women’s groups, a school board and her employers . . . many of whom accepted without any level of scrutiny the (woman’s) self-reports.” Source:  http://www.lfpress.com/2014/04/10/london-middlesex-childrens-aid-society-hit-with-record-court-costs-of-14-million


Posters present practicum placement projects

MSW/JD student Nicole Powers recommends that Ontario mandate children’s aid societies to intervene in instances of truancy.

Truancy is a serious problem in Ontario, says Nicole Powers, but children’s aid societies across the province are not mandated to deal with it.

A student in the Master of Social Work/Juris Doctor program, she recommends that the Child and Family Services Act be amended to empower Children’s Aid Societies to intervene when students miss school.

“Truancy is the number one risk factor for later criminal activity and juvenile delinquency,” says Powers. “The Ministry of Children and Youth Services has set a goal to ensure every person graduates from secondary school. Changing the act is a way to achieve that goal.”

Powers was one of dozens of graduate students in social work presenting projects based on their practicum experiences, Friday in the CAW Student Centre. Her placement with the Windsor-Essex Children’s Aid Society was “eye-opening,” she says.

“I chose this agency because I will be articling with the Office of the Children’s Lawyer (under Ontario’s attorney general),” says Powers. “I thought it would be a good idea to get some background on what children’s aid societies do.”

Although the public perception is that children’s aid societies “take people’s kids away,” she says she learned that it offers many supports to help families cope with challenges.

Social professor Connie Kvarfordt says that educational experience is the key reason why the graduate program places students with community agencies.

“The practicum bridges the gap between academic knowledge and real life,” she says. “It’s a great learning experience that will inform their professional practice.”

The students are required to identify possible funding sources for any recommendations they make, Dr. Kvarfordt says, and presenting their research in the poster display develops yet another skill—the ability to explain their work to the public.

Nicole Powers

Connie Kvarfordt

Strategic Priority:

Engage in community partnerships

Pursue strengths in research and graduate education

Academic Area:

Arts and Social Sciences

Social Work

Graduate Studies

Research
.

— Published on Apr 7th, 2014