Friday, November 06, 2009

Peel CAS - Press Release

Press release

John Dunn
Executive Director
Foster Care Council of Canada
613-220-1039
johndunn@afterfostercare.ca

Tasha
Ward of the Peel Children's Aid Society
(contact through John Dunn)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Toronto (ON): Tasha, a seventeen year old youth in foster care under the authority of the Peel Children's Aid Society has been so-far, unsuccessfully attempting to request from her child protection worker, Angela Rafique, that her concerns regarding abuse and neglect in her foster home are dealt with.

When asked how she feels about the Society's treatment of her after expressing her concerns, she said "I have raised severe issues and concerns more then once, expected something to be done about them, my cries for help were ignored". Also in her reply, Tasha stated "Seeing as how I am personally having to take these concerns and issues into my own hands to have them dealt with, shows that the society has no interest in wanting to help and provide me safety while I am in their care".

Tasha claims she was unsuccessful in the past in asking her worker Rafique to deal with these issues subsequently prompting her to ensure that this time around she obtain an accurate record of the Society's resolution efforts by dealing with each issue in writing, or in the alternative by audio recording any meetings with the Society.

Rafique responded by e-mail to Tasha's most recent request for assistance by using confusing, age-inappropriate terminology and redirecting blame to the victim when she wrote "our records indicate that every effort has been made to reinforce the fact that we have tried to resolve the issues raised but there has been tremendous challenges in trying to satisfy your requests within the frame work of legislative compliance and your cooperation".

Frank Kennedy, a Peel Children's Aid Society Supervisor who is responsible for Tasha's worker, and a Society staff member who holds both a Bachelor and a Masters Degrees in Social Work, has refused to accommodate Tasha's request for accurate records in relation to this matter.

Placement of Mental Roadblocks
Kennedy confirmed the Society is aware of the youth's concerns writing "We have been in receipt of your emails as you have been in receipt of our responses". A professional with years of experience in dealing with children and youth in child welfare who is undoubtedly aware of the extreme imbalance of power between himself and the youth, Kennedy begins placing a series of mental roadblocks in what appears to be an attempt to prevent Tasha from obtaining an accurate record of how the Society is dealing with her allegations of abuse and neglect when he writes, that "Emails are not the standard means of communication to engage our children and youth in care".

Kennedy continues to place mental roadblocks in front of Tasha when he writes "This will be the final email on this subject as all subsequent communication will have to be done by telephone or face to face with Angela".

In what appears to be his final attempt to prevent Tasha from obtaining an accurate record of the Society's dealings with her and without acknowledging her request to record the Society's meetings, Kennedy states "As a youth in care we do not intend to create a new mode of communication at this time because we do not feel this is the way to manage your case".

Insisting that she meet with staff at the Society's offices -- where youth's actual records can not be removed from the premises -- Kennedy tells her "you can write your own notes of the process and we will also have minutes taken and you will be able to get a copy"

Throughout the process, Tasha has been very clear in stating that she wants an accurate record of dealings with the Society not just summarizing notes or minutes.

John Dunn, a former foster child, and volunteer executive director of the Foster Care Council of Canada, an organization dedicated to increasing transparency and accountability in child welfare services says "This apparent attempt by the Peel Children's Aid Society to prevent a youth in care from obtaining an accurate record of her dealings with the Society when she is obviously crying out for help is extremely disturbing".

Dunn explains "A directive issued from Chief Justice Howland under section 136 of the Courts of Justice Act even permits self-represented parties to a court hearing to audio record their hearings without the need to obtain permission from the presiding judge to ensure they have an accurate record of the proceedings. This is permitted because it is difficult for someone who is directly involved in a matter to keep accurate notes.

He continues "Just try to imagine how completely unacceptable it would be to have a court transcript made up of nothing more than 'notes' or 'minutes' as an 'accurate' record of a hearing. The Peel Children's Aid Society's support of such unfair treatment of a vulnerable youth in care who is merely trying to assert her rights to be protected and to ensure she has an accurate record of the Society's attempts to deal with her allegations of abuse and neglect in care is shocking. We support Tasha's efforts to obtain an accurate record of the Society's dealings with her and ask the Peel Children's Aid Society to accommodate Tasha's needs in an anti-oppressive manner as opposed to only acting in a way which accommodates the needs of the Society".

When the Foster Care Council of Canada asked the Society if they have any objections or feedback regarding this press release they did not have any.

Full e-mails at http://fosterchildspeaksout.wetpaint.com/page/1LettertoCAS

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