Andrew Skinner of Fighting 4 Families
spoke in the rally against CAS
corruption on October 5th, 2009
at the Ontario legislative building

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Structural Corruption in the "Child Protection" Industry

At the onset, we wish to emphasize that not all service providers in the child protection industry are corrupt. We respect that some of them are honestly doing their job and may have helped some children and families in need. However, the presence of these non-corrupted members is insufficient to rectify the corruption. We do not intend to cast insult, promote hatred or create bias against any group, government or individual. We reiterate our objective of making ameliorative changes that better protect children and build a safer future for families. We hope to provide an overview for education purpose based on facts, published data, empirical evidence, credible testimonies and logical analysis.

corruption factors

Corruption is the abuse of trust and power for the benefits of parties entrusted with power. In the child protection industry, corruption exhibits in form of using children as pawns to coerce acceptance of services that results in the financial benefits and job security of service providers. Not all acts of corruption involve demand and payment of bribes or gifts. If carefully structured, corruption can take advantage of loopholes in law and becomes completely legal. Service providers control the demand of their services, render services and legally collect payments from taxpayers. At a broader level, provincial and territorial governments seek more subsidies (transfer payments) from the federal government by removing Aboriginal children. Beneficiaries maximize profit and job security at the expense of taxpayers and often destruction of families. In the current legal system, it is almost impossible to convict any service providers of wrongdoing despite their blatant abuse of power.

We describe corruption in the child protection industry structural because there is little or no meaningful check and balance that provides a timely corrective mechanism to effectively punish and deter perpetrators from engaging in self-serving corruptive practice. This notion is analyzed at the macro and micro level in the setting of British Columbia.

At the Macro Level

For corruption to become structural at the macro level, the following prerequisites are required.

Prerequisite Empirical Evidence
presence of financial incentives Financial incentive is the most common motivating factor in corruption. The following sources provide enticing financial incentives:

Provincial government operating budgets

In many child protection cases, taxpayers pay hundred of thousands for each child removed. A good percentage of these children are removed unnecessarily ... (click for more details)

Federal government subsidies

The Canadian federal government subsidizes removal of Native Indian children on a per head basis, hence creating financial incentive to provincial and territorial governments to target the First Nation.

Wealth of Parents with Children Removed

Compared with tax dollars in government budgets, this is a much smaller incentive. But the effects on families are devastating. Few oppressed parents have sufficient wealth that disqualifies them from receiving legal aid. Occasionally, children from more affluent parents are removed. In most cases, parents will commit all their resources to rescue their children from being kept in government "care". Lawyers representing parents thus have the opportunity to milk their clients dry. Opposing lawyers representing MCFD would work in concert to ensure more billable hours are created for their mutual benefits. Many parents end up losing their homes, their job and, above all, their children.

possession of vast financial resource, special and absolute statutory power
  • Empowered by the provincial Child, Family and Community Service Act (CFCSA), Ministry-employed child protection workers have the unique and near absolute statutory power to remove children from their families. They do not need a court order to remove a child. This power has been abused by various parties (such as estranged spouses, police, Crown prosecutors, malicious parties including friends, relatives and neighbors) for purposes other than child protection.
  • CFCSA allows child protection hearings to circumvent due process in law that offers a fairer trial based on good evidence. This belief is supported by:
    1. Section 66 of CFCSA stipulates that hearings under this Act is civil in nature and may be informal. This may put some parents at ease as they are not being tried for criminal matters that may result in a criminal record. This is an illusion that parents must be aware of. Because the hearing is civil in nature, all legal rights in Section 11 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms do not apply. The consequence of CFCSA hearings is far more serious to most parents than any penalty in the Criminal Code, namely losing the custody of your children to the government and get a child abuser record in a central state registry in some countries (such as the United States).
    2. Section 67 and 68 of CFCSA specifically allow hearsay evidence in child protection hearings.
  • CFCSA is not only lopsided but also vague in providing unambiguous legal definitions in many ways. For instance, it does not define what constitute neglect, or the age limit above which parents are allowed to leave their children at home or to go to school without adult supervision. Silence in law allows room for child protection workers to exercise their discretion and subjective judgment. Criminal code clearly defines the age of statutory rape. Our election act clearly stipulates the age above which a Canadian citizen can vote. Why CFCSA cannot be more specific to avoid abuse of power and double standard?
  • Parents have little or no representation in the legislation of child protection law and policy-making related to child protection. The Canadian Bar Association published an article titled Child Protection Overload by Michelle Mann. The Legislative Reforms column on the right hand side stated that the child protection legislative reform expert panel in the Ontario government consisting of judges, social workers, doctors and other child protection professionals. Parents are excluded.
  • They have the authority and the motivation (for job security reason) to spend the tax dollars entrusted in their hands for child protection activities and hence are in a position to broker tax dollars to various service providers in the industry.
  • While Canadians are asked to tighten their belts in the midst of an economic recession, the 2009 B.C. Budget Update (announced on September 3, 2009) allocated new fundings to MCFD over a 3-year period to "care for and protection" of vulnerable children. This Budget Update specifically said that the HST (a controversial tax introduced) is needed to provide "social services" that are fundamental to a "high quality of life". This proves how powerful and influential special interests groups are on government.
lack of political will to change child protection law Despite what the legislative intent was, the root of this corruption lies on the absolute power to remove children from their families. Atrocities like the Sherry Charlie tragedy and Native Indian residential school are possible because government has this statutory power. An elected assembly can trample a man's right as much as a totalitarian tyranny.

To give a brief overview of how serious the lack of political will is, please click here to watch the news footage called "Children's Aid Society Oversight" made by CHCH News Live @ 5:30.

Although elected officials are bombarded by reports from bureaucrats alleging how successful and necessary the child protection regime is, law makers are not totally ignorant on the corruption. Theoretically, they are supposed to serve the people. In reality, many elected officials are more concerned on getting more campaign money and votes to win the next election and to further their private interests. This pitfall in democracy applies to all levels of government in nations that practice democracy. Most politicians perceive support of revoking child removal authority politically suicidal as this will inevitably antagonize powerful special interest groups whose livelihood depends on this authority. They lack the farseeing insight to see that these hideous activities will eventually backfire on them in a scale beyond their control and imagination.

Part 1 of Nancy Schaefer's speech
in World Congress on Families V in Amsterdam

Please click here to view Part 2
Please click here to view this footage
in Eagle Forum of Georgia site.

The late former U.S. Republican Georgia State Senator Nancy Schaefer spoke on corruption in child protective services (CPS) in Washington, D.C. on 26 September 2008. There are elected officials who speak the truth and act according to their conscience and principle, not on chance or party platform. There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but because conscience tells one it is right. We did not discover this video until 11 October 2009. Mrs. Schaefer precisely and concisely summarized our findings in the Canadian setting.

Against insurmountable odds and political unpopularity, she adamantly speaks against corruption in the child protection industry, advocates parental rights and tabled a bill to reform "Child Protective Service" (CPS). The strong points of her bill were compromised. Her political colleagues told her to live with this or to face sanction. This threat was made good and she lost her senatecy. Her speech at the World Congress on Families (August 11, 2009) is linked here. This corruption is epidemic in most English-speaking nations.

In her speech at the World Congress on Families on 16 August 2009, she confirmed that her report on CPS corruption cost her senatecy. She was told by her colleagues that if she helped families under CPS scrutiny, she will lose her job. The perception of political suicidal in supporting revoking child removal authority is unfortunately well founded. Are elected officials supposed to serve their constituents or be a yes man to their party boss? Is there any cause worthwhile losing a political position? Real political career focuses on protecting the best interests of the people, protecting justice and speaking the truth.

Mrs. Schaefer and her husband Bruce were found dead in their Habersham county home on Friday, 26 March 2010. The police promptly classified their death as a “murder suicide” and closed the case. Her sudden and tragic death is considered by some a murder caused by her involvement in uncovering corruption in the child protection industry.

Given so much evidence of corruption and abuse of authority, why elected officials do not act? Are they elected by their constituents to protect their best interests, not that of the special interest groups in the child protection industry? Despite so many problems arising from state-sponsored child removal activities, why government still wants to retain this notorious child removal authority? To "protect" child? Or to oppress the people if necessary? Are politicians involved and benefit from this industry in any way, directly or indirectly? Why a senator who is honest enough to speak the truth and has the courage and political will to urge reform is sacked, not by the people through a democratic election but by the party boss? Who else are involved in this corruption if we dig deeper? Who else can people rely on to hold those in power accountable. We shudder at the thought. People in high social positions are obliged to act with integrity, honor, kindliness and generosity. Can we find these qualities in our politicians nowadays?

lack of public and media interest Many British Columbians choose not to have children. To many of these childless people, this corruption is as remote as a problem in the moon.

Despite the massive abuse of authority, the media does not provide enough coverage to attract public attention. Few journalists would believe the full extent of the abuse many parents suffered. Above all, the abuse in many cases is so similar that most journalists find no new hook (fresh information of news value) in airing cases of this nature again.

In our humble opinion, news value in child protection issues is of significant public interests that warrants production of a 2-hour special TV program. There is ample amount of empirical evidence and credible testimonies from both parents and professionals from different disciplines that suggest well hidden problems in this industry.

judicial failure to adhere to guiding principles in CFCSA and to provide fair and timely adjudication
Part 1 Lawyers, judges, professors, authors,
victims spoke on the industry ...
(view Part 2 in Fairness of Adjudication)
The judiciary contributes to the corruption in the following aspects and has brought the administration of justice surrounding child protection matters into disrepute:

Failure to Adhere to Guiding Principles in CFCSA

The guiding principles in CFCSA govern state-sponsored child protection activities. (Click here for more detail.)

Timeliness of Adjudication

CFCSA requires that child protection hearings are conducted in a timely manner. MCFD lawyers often use various tactics to maximize child holding period: (Click here for more information.)

Fairness of Adjudication

insufficient accountability and transparency Accountability and Transparency
absence of timely corrective mechanism Next to the more authoritative judicial adjudication, dispute/complaint resolution procedures also fail. On the surface, there are sufficient dispute resolution procedures in place to allow parents to have fair adjudications of their complaints. In fact, complaint process involving team leaders, local community service managers, the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner, the Office of the Ombudsman and Representative for Children and Youth is merely a decoration of fairness and openness. Bureaucrats within MCFD seldom overturn their own decisions and tend to rally behind the back of their colleagues. Bureaucrats outside MCFD can only make recommendations and have no binding authority. Even a provincial court judge's decision can be ignored without any consequence or overturned with or without fresh evidence at the discretion of child protection workers. This is possible because they have the statutory power to remove children again if they believe that return of children will jeopardize child safety. Exercising this power does not amount to contempt of court or an attempt to seek res judicata (relitigation of settled matters).

After all, complaint process is not time efficient. Bureaucrats will have plenty of time to use removed children as pawns to fabricate evidence to incriminate their parents.

active involvement of powerful and influential collaborators Child protection workers do NOT earn an extra dime when they remove more children. But in doing so, they do create more cases to justify their job and hence enhancing their job security and creating more reasons to ask for a larger budget in the future. The biggest nightmare to civil servants is the elimination of their position because their service is no longer needed. You cannot rely on someone to solve a problem when their livelihood depends on the very existence of that problem. Be mindful that their unique work experience of removing children from their families is not quite marketable in other sectors of the job market.

The power to spend a huge government budget will inevitably attract collaborators. Beyond doubt, money talks. Collaborators include but not limit to the following parties:

  • MCFD's lawyers are hired guns from external law firms who earn large amount of retainer in representing MCFD in court.
  • On the other side of the fence, lawyers representing parents who do not qualify for legal aid will milk their clients dry in no time.
  • Parents on legal aid will get a lawyers paid by tax dollars, who will soon lose incentive to provide best legal representation when their legal aid hours run out.
  • Psychologists and counselors are paid thousands of dollars for each report they write in assessing and counseling parents. They seldom bite the hands that feed them.
  • Proprietors who run programs such as anger control management, children who witnessed abuse counseling, women with abusive spouse counseling, receive countless compulsory referrals from child protection workers. In most cases, these counseling fees are paid by government. Sometimes parents are forced to pay for these programs imposed. It is noteworthy to mention that some of these proprietors are ex-social workers.
  • Foster parents are guaranteed a very decent tax-free income (support as it is called) for "caring" removed children. Many of them lack the skills to earn the same level of income elsewhere. Child protection is their bread and butter. After making several misleading responses (including an allegation that MCFD does not pay foster parents at all) in 2009, MCFD reluctantly disclosed in a Freedom of Information application that foster parenting is a 9-figure industry in British Columbia each year.
  • Supervised visit workers are paid to watch parents when seeing their children on supervised visits. Often, they write bad reports on parents to protect their jobs as child protection workers have the discretion to hire supervised visit workers.

Most of these collaborators become die hard supporters of MCFD's child removal business as their livelihood depends on it.

low risk of exposure and punishment Perpetrators in the child protection industry seldom fear any risk of exposure or any personal consequences because of the following reasons:
  • The successful strategy of using vast public resources to oppress a very small percentage of the population (about 0.2% historically, less than 1% including their extended family members) mainly from the underprivileged class under the pretext of child protection minimizes resistance from the populace. Given the fact that the unaffected 99% of the population is ignorant or apathetic, this strategy is extremely effective.
  • In 21st century Canada where governments ardently speak of freedom, democracy, human rights and natural justice, their wrongdoings are so absurd and serious that most Canadians who have no first hand experience with them will find unbelievable. Those who tell the truth are perceived as disgruntled parents trying to get even. Be mindful that parents who received "services" have the first hand experience, not judges, not service providers, not the yes men in parliament.
  • Some parents are warned that if they go public to expose the perpetrators, there will be consequences. If you do not believe this, please watch this private video recording posted in youTube on December 18, 2007 called "Child Protection Reform". Most oppressed parents are fearful of retaliation and remain silent. They are from the underprivileged social class and carry little credibility to most people. Their fear is well founded as there are many cases of reprisal. This explains why this serious corruption is so well hidden.
  • Due to the fact that so many powerful and influential groups are involved, it is unlikely that the government will take serious actions against all of them even if they are convinced there are seriously problems. This will result in harming the clout of government and many lawsuits. An easy course of action open to government is to cover up, use privacy to keep people in the dark and hope that the problem will go away.
  • Government employees are indemnified by their employer, namely the government (or more precisely taxpayers). Legally, it is very difficult to hold them personally accountable for their wrongdoings. Why should they fear?

At the Micro Level

These prerequisites precipitate a structural corruption rarely known to the public. They are translated into tactics child protection workers used against parents when carrying out their duties of "helping" and "developing" families in need. Supported by credible testimonies and evidence of corruption, our MCFD Tactics and MCFD Surveillance pages provide a good analysis at the micro level. These materials will not be reiterated here. Please view these two pages.

Structural corruption in the child protection industry pertains in most English-speaking countries with similar child protection law. The article below titled "Organized Crime Operating in the Child Protection System" written by James Roger Brown (released on June 29, 2004) gives a good overview of the situation in the United States.


Are children really protected in such a corrupted bureaucracy overwhelmed by self-serving service providers in the "child protection" industry? At the expense of a huge financial cost, exploitation of families in need and at times destruction of families unfairly caught in the system, some may. Can the problem be solved by imposing vigilant restraints and reforming the existing system? Given the lopsided law and the unfair precedents established over time, no. The corruption is irreparable. The National Post article on June 12, 2009 titled ""Children's Aid Society workers should be reined in, critics say" and the speech of ex senator Nancy Schaefer in World Congress on Families V in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, on August 11, 2009 contain many valid points and real life examples to support the foregoing.

Child protection does not equal child removal. Radical and extreme as it sounds, a responsible government should not rely on child removal authority to protect children. Child safety and the rights of family are not mutually exclusive. Should it become necessary, there is due process that gives authorities power to separate abusive parents from their vulnerable children. Parent rights can be asserted and protected without compromising the safety of children. CFCSA is redundant, counter productive and costly. It sets a standard that the current bureaucracy fails to meet. There are better solutions to protect children and their families. If politicians are interested to find a solution that will free them from the nightmare of being blamed for having children abused, injured or killed while in "care", please talk to us. We believe that there are all-win solutions that many "child protection" social workers will find acceptable. We may not be able to offer an ideal model. But we are confident that we can suggest a better model.


back to the "Empirical Data & Stats" page

Empirical Data & Stats page


[This page was separated from the "Empirical Data & Stats" page on 4 November 2009, last revised on 23 January 2013.]