Monday, October 19, 2009

Peel CAS Appears to be Ignoring Foster Youth's Cries for Help

In a letter received today by the Foster Care Council of Canada, a youth in foster care under the Peel Children's Aid Society is applying stronger tactics to get his/her worker and his/her worker's supervisors to listen to his/her cries for help.

The youth's letter to the worker is enclosed below. (Subsection 45 (8) of the Child and Family Services Act prevents anyone from identifying a youth in care so his/her name has been removed)

Letter from Youth to his/her worker

Good afternoon Angela,

A week ago, I sent you an email on Tuesday, October 13, 2009 at 9:03:12 AM (below) responding to your email that you sent back to me on Thursday, October 8, 2009 at 11:32:57 AM (below) about the concerns and issues of my current placement as well as other things.

I have yet to hear from you since then. If I do not hear from you or your supervisor, Frank Kennedy by 4:00pm on Wednesday, October 21st, 2009, then I will be contacting the local media, as well as the Foster Care Council of Canada to inform them that I had contacted my worker and notified her of all the abuse and neglect, but she still did not take the time to respond to this crisis (ignoring my cries of help). Your co-operation will be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

Regards,
(Name Removed)

See the youth's own website at
http://fosterchildspeaksout.wetpaint.com/page/Speaking+Out


----- Forwarded Message ----
From: (Name Removed)
To: ARafique@peelcas.org
Cc: johndunn@afterfostercare.ca; FKennedy@peelcas.org; advocacy@provincialadvocate.on.ca; info@ombudsman.on.ca
Sent: Tue, October 13, 2009 9:03:12 AM
Subject: Re:

Angela Rafique,

I would like to ask you where in the previous email I had sent to you does it show that the tone and language I used was disrespectful towards you. Also, I am not "ordering" you around, I am simply standing up for myself and my rights as a child in care. Every time I approach you with an issue or something that I wish to have done, you never follow up on it and help me, so I have to be persistent with you. So I feel it is in my best interests to be persistent with you in order to have my needs and issues met.

I will contact your supervisor immediately in regards to the meeting him and I had on September 24th of 2008 at the Peel Children's Aid office where we discussed that the society would contribute to the drivers education program of my choice if I contributed $100.00 towards the program. This is something that you should be helping me out with, but once again, I guess I will be taking matters into my own hands.



You have just confirmed to me that you will set up the volunteer rides in exchange for my mother's address. I will provide the address in hopes that you will co-operate and set my drives up immediately as you confirmed in your previous email, seeing as how it is getting really cold outside. I am aware that once I go onto independent living, I will no longer be able to receive the volunteer rides. The address is as follows; (Address removed)


In regards to your response of me moving out of (Name Removed) onto independence in a months time; I feel it is important that you should be supportive and if the place I choose to move into is legitimate and safe (big enough windows and smoke detectors) then you will approve and I will be on my way with my independence worker. You also stated that when we previously met on September 17th, 2009, that you mentioned a Family Group Conference that involves bringing my family together to talk about the plan for me beyond living in the CAS. You never mentioned a meeting, or a group conference so I am unaware of such a thing. Since now you have mentioned the group meeting, I am not interested in sitting down with the society and my family because my family is already very supportive of me and aware of where I want to go, and what I want to persue in. The Peel Children's Aid has not provided my family and I support since we first have been involved with the agency, so I do not expect verbal support now. However, I do expect support regarding the agency to pay for part of my University tuition for when I begin at post-secondary.

In regards to the independence worker, thank you, I will be expecting to hear back from you as soon as possible once you receive the approval.

I have addressed to you Angela, many of times about the issues and concerns I have at my foster placement. I mentioned them to you after we had the transfer meeting, so in (month removed) before my birthday of 2009. I had addressed to you at that meeting about how she would kick me out of the house to run errands in the evenings, and how it was affecting my school. At the present time, you did not seem to care about how it was affecting my school and decided that since I would be going on independence, I should find something productive to do with that time I was kicked out until she returned. When I go onto independence, I won't have that issue because I won't be getting kicked out, so I'll be able to focus in school, another reason as to why I want to be on independence as soon as possible. My school and education is very important to me, but it seems that it doesn't concern you how I failed two of my classes and resulted in passing most of my courses last year with 50%. I also mentioned to you about the lack of food that is provided, and how I attend school everyday on an empty stomach. I am not able to focus in school all day when I have no food in my stomach, and the little portions she provides us at dinner, does not give me enough energy for the next day. This was all mentioned to you at that meeting. On September 17th, 2009, I had asked you once again, if you have looked into, or have done anything in regarding to those issues I had informed you of. You told me to "refresh" your memory as you have forgotten. I feel that you should have written it down and did what was in my best interests, seeing as in your previous email you stated "I do want to be a support to you and be of assistance where possible". Please correct me if I have mistaken what you wrote.



I am reminding you, that I will not be contacting you through phone if I have any questions or concerns and that everything will be through email. When you attend my place of residence on Wednesday October 14th of 2009 at 3:45pm, there will be no discussion of my issues, plans, concerns and updates, unless you will be willing to be video/audio taped during this meeting, then I do not have a problem discussing these things at the meeting. I will provide a written statement for you to sign giving confirmation that we agreed to have the meeting under audio/video supervision.



Regards,
(Name Removed)



CC:
John Dunn, Foster Care Council of Canada
Angela Rafique, Case Worker, Peel CAS
Frank Kennedy, Supervisor, Peel CAS
(Name Removed), Mother
Irwin Elman, Provincial Child and Youth Advocate
Andre Martin, Ontario Ombudsman


From: "ARafique@peelcas.org"
To: (Name Removed)
Cc: FKennedy@peelcas.org
Sent: Thu, October 8, 2009 11:32:57 AM
Subject: Re:


(Name Removed),

Firstly, I need to address your last email to me and let you know that the tone and the language that you used was very disrespectful towards me and completely unwarranted. Yes, I do want to be a support to you and be of assistance where possible, but to be ordered around as you seem to feel is your right to do, is not acceptable and will not be tolerated.

With regards to driving lessons, you need to understand that the agency has no obligation to you to pay for the cost of your driver education. This is a privilege, not a right. If my supervisor told you a year ago that you only needed to contribute $100 towards the cost of such lessons, I would suggest that you speak to him directly about this and provide him with a courteous and respectful reminder about the discussion that took place with him. I believe that if you are able to do so and provide him with the statement/application from the driving school with the charges outlined in it, he will honour this. To note, the money for the driving lessons would be given to (Name Removed) and (Name Removed) or the driving school directly, along with a returnable receipt.

With regards to volunteer drives being provided to you in order to go to visits with your mother, this is something that I would be happy to help you with, while you are in care. As you know, this is something that was provided to you in the past prior to your mother moving. I will not be signing your written contract though in order to secure your mother's address. If you and your mother wish to have drives set up, I would ask you to simply provide your mother's address, if she permits, in order to help facilitate these drives. As you are aware, once you move on to Independent living, we will not be able to access the volunteer drive program through the Society, as it is expected that as an independent person you will make your own arrangements with regards to getting to and from such things as visits.

With regards to your plan to move out in a months time, I feel that it is important that we talk more in person about your specific plans and what steps you have taken with regards to this. That way, I can better plan with you around such a move. As I mentioned to you when we last met, I think that it would be a good idea to have a Family Group Conference to bring together your family and support network to talk about planning for you beyond Care. I think it is important to involve your support system in this process and see how they can best support you. This is especially important as you have frequently expressed to me your desire to end your involvement with the Society and we are going to be approaching your 18th birthday in the next number removed) months.

With regards to the Independence referral, this has been completed and I am currently awaiting notification from the supervisor responsible for this program portfolio to contact me and advise as to whether or not this referral has been accepted and when an Independence Worker can be assigned. I will up-date you regarding this matter as soon as I know anything further.

With regards to your concerns about the foster home, I would again ask that we talk more in person about your specific concerns and issues, as well as the details of these, so that I can have a better understanding about what is going on for you, as things seem to be a bit vague at present. This way we can clarify things and hopefully work towards effectively addressing any matters.

As you are aware, I will be coming to your residence on Wednesday, October 14, 2009 at 3:45pm and would suggest that we talk more about the above at that time. I would encourage you to be open to this meeting and set any negativity that you have aside so as to move forward in our talks with one another. If you have any questions please feel free to give me at call at 905-363-6131 ext. 3074.

Angela Rafique

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