Monday, October 15, 2012

Letter to Green Party - Speaking Out for Youth in Care

The following letter has been sent out by the Foster Care Council of Canada to Ontario's Green Party leader Mike Schreiner and Green Party of Ontario, Children and Youth Services Shadow Cabinet member Jennifer Mooradian.


Mike and Jennifer (Children and Youth Services Shadow Cabinet)

Good morning. I read the action request e-mail from the GPO this morning and was impressed. I will go and watch the video as well on Mike's presentation regarding Nuclear also.

However, at this time, I wanted to ask if the GPO would consider putting out a similar announcement to all of it's members regarding an issue which often is overseen by other parties and that is the issues of Ombudsman oversight of Children's Aid Societies to protect youth in foster care.

Right now, is a critical moment for this movement. We have had several Bills for Ombudsman oversight pass first reading (all bills pass first reading by tradition) but usually they die on the table before they see the light of day through a second reading.

This time however,  a Bill for oversight of CAS by the Ombudsman -- Bill 110 -- has made it to second reading and has been sent to the Justice Committee.

The current Ombudsman, Andre Marin has been very outspoken on the need for Ombudsman oversight of CAS. Hundreds of protests have occurred over the past few years across Ontario to get Ombudsman oversight of CAS (see link to lists following this message). People always speak of the children being our future, and it taking a community to raise a child, yet when it comes to a simple step such as giving truly independent oversight of CAS by the Ombudsman for foster kids to protect them from poor decisions and/or negligent or systemic failures which harm them in the long run, we tend to over look them instead of oversee them.

This issue is ripe for a GPO action letter to its members just like the one the GPO did for the nuclear issue. It is supported by the Ombudsman himself, Andre Marin (amarin@ombudsman.on.ca) and by thousands of Ontarians, including foster parents (who are often scared to speak out for fear of reprisals and removal of their foster children and/or ability to continue caring for children) the youth themselves, the family members of kids in care, and foster care survivors like myself who grew up in the system which claims to have oversight mechanisms which are either completely toothless by design (cfsrb.ca a tribunal intentionally made exempt from the Statutory Powers and Procedures Act which would give it enforcement powers), alleged Ministry oversight which if you bring issues to them, they state that they do not enforce their own Regulations under the Child and Family Services Act, as well as grandparents and professionals in child welfare.

A Film has been done by Esther Bukareff which is supported by Ryerson University (the Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies complained and Ryerson defended it). The Film and tonnes of related research can be found regarding the foster care system in Ontario and the lack of oversight. There are associated short videos by her at the following link which are great for a quick educational background including illegal apprehensions, and abuse in foster care by a lawyer who deals with foster care/institutional abuse of children in Ontario.

PLEASE view these short videos 1) http://vimeo.com/blakout and the overall website at http://www.blakout.ca to learn more.

Then, please dedicate the time the GPO puts toward environmental issues toward our children. The most vulnerable children in our province whose natural guardians (their family) have been removed from watching over them. The PC party supports Bill110, the NDP introduced the Bill (and previous ones) and the Liberals voted against them in the past.

This is an opportunity for the Green Party of Ontario to be a leader with the people who are going to vote for them in the near future. The children who have the government of Ontario as their legal parent. (Crown Wards/Foster Children).

Will the GPO commit to sending out an announcement to its members similar to the ones sent out in the past on environmental issues and other issues?

I suggest listening to my short CBC Radio documentary on my life in foster care (16 years/13 moves/abuse etc.) which takes you on a virtual subway ride through the life of an Ontario foster child and his brother. (myself and my brother Ron, a bike courier in Toronto of 20+ years) before you respond. You can hear it by clicking on the following link:

http://www.afterfostercare.ca/subway.html (It received a second airing by CBC as a "listener favourite".

I thank you for considering speaking out actively for my "little brothers and sisters" who are in foster care today, and those who will inevitably end up there tomorrow by making an announcement regarding the passing of Bill 110 and urging members of the GPO and others to call their MPP to ask that they vote YES to #Bill110 for #Ombudsman oversight of Children's Aid Societies.



Sincerely,

John Dunn
Executive Director (Volunteer)
Foster Care Council of Canada

Website: http://www.afterfostercare.ca
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/afterfostercare
News Blog: http://www.fostercarenews.blogspot.com
Child Welfare Discussion Forum: http://www.fostercare.proboards.com