On 14 July 2015, the Supreme Court of B.C. handed down an unprecedented judgment J.P. v. British Columbia (Children and Family Development), 2015 BCSC 1216. This is the first case in Canadian legal history in which child protection workers are found liable for misfeasance in public office, breach of fiduciary duty and breach of the standard of care. Findings therein confirm our views and support the merit of our cause. Continuous litigations between JP and the MCFD are summarized in JP Aftermath. Our commentary on the Plecas Review Part 1: Decision Time was published on 4 January 2016. If you have evidence of misfeasance or abuse of children in foster care, please come forward and contact us.
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To portray an image that removed children are in good hands, government needs to warehouse them in a system that the public trusts. Foster care is instrumental to the "child protection" industry. Government run foster care in British Columbia comprises of:
group home (a group of removed children, usually 8 to 10 of older ages live in a house operated by staff paid by the Ministry of Children and Family Development, MCFD); and
foster home (a family provides care for one or more removed children in their home).
Foster care is not employment. Families choose to foster because of a concern for children and desire to contribute something special to their community. There is a monthly maintenance payment to foster parents to cover the direct costs of caring for a child. However, foster parents are not expected to give up employment. There is also a service payment available for the three levels of specialized foster care. The service payment recognizes the primary foster parents special parenting skill and extra time required to meet the needs of a child, but is not considered to be employment income."
The Ministry's position on the nature of payments to foster parents support the argument that these payments are non-taxable income to foster parents. We are unsure how Canada Revenue Agency rules on this issue. If this is indeed non-taxable income, foster care is a very lucrative business.
Financial Incentives to Foster Parents
Confirmed by MCFD's reply to our Freedom of Information application, payments to foster parents from MCFD's budget alone is a 9-digit figure per fiscal year from 2001 to 2008. Furthermore, the federal government provides Children's Special Allowances (CSA, a tax-free monthly federal payment made to agencies, institutions and foster parents who are responsible for the care and education of children under 18 who physically reside in Canada and who are not in the care of their parents). These payments are governed by the Childrens Special Allowances Act (1992, c. 48, Sch.). If the children removed are Aboriginals, the federal government further subsidizes their removal on a per head basis. To special interests in the "child protection" and the adoption industry, this is one of the main sources where the big money comes from.
According to the figures provided by Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat in Table 2.1 below, CSA payments are in 9-digit figures and are rising every year. CSA is also a financial incentive for provincial "child protection" agencies to remove children from their parents and keep them in government sponsored foster/group homes as long as possible.
The 2011 federal budget announced on 6 June 2011 stipulates that for 2012 and subsequent years, the payment of a CSA to an agency (such as MCFD) in respect of a child who is a former Crown ward and who has been placed in the custody of a legal guardian, tutor (in Quebec) or a similar caregiver and the agency provides financial assistance for the maintenance of the child. This Budget would ensure that an agency receives the CSA in respect of a child that it continues to financially support even if the child has been released to the care of a court-appointed guardian, tutor or similar caregiver.
This extended payment of CSA will further create financial incentive to remove and adopt children.
It is noteworthy to remark that:
In some cases we have come across, children return date was recorded several months after the actual return date. This could possibly allow foster parents to continue to receive payments from government when removed children no longer live there. If this is true, it is a fraud. This also reflects that there is little accountability, incompetence and corruption.
Many foster parents do not have other job skills. Some cannot speak English proficiently. To people of this background, working as foster parents is an easy way to earn a decent living.
Removed children are often moved to different foster homes within a short period of time. "Child protection" workers seldom give any reason for moving children as they have the total discretion to do so without giving notice to or obtaining consent from birth parents. If questioned in court, the usual reason is "lack of resources" or "expiry of foster home contract".
If foster parents could receive government payments for several months after children are moved, this adds financial incentive to move children frequently for the benefits of foster parents.
Financial compensations are not considered employment income. There is a belief that this income is tax free. Although Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) may hold the opinion that foster care income is taxable, MCFD does not generate T4 slips to foster parents. Consequently, many foster parents, if not most, are not reporting their foster care income in their income tax returns. For the ease of reference, the MCFD foster care rate structure is achieved below.
Foster Homes by Geographic Areas in British Columbia (total 3,255 in 2011)
The average foster home annual income from foster fees paid by MCFD (using 2007/08 fiscal year figure, the most current information at our disposal) is $112,538,403/3255 = $34,574.01. This is a fairly good income in view of the fact that many, or perhaps even most, of these foster parents have no other job skills.
In MCFD's FAQ on foster care web page, foster care is not employment. It is hard to find a community service that pays a steady and government-guaranteed income over $34,000 a year. We will leave it to our browsers to decide whether running a foster home is a business or a community service.
If there are 5,900 foster kids (provided in the heading of the aforesaid source document), the average number of kids warehoused per foster home is 5,900/3,255 = 1.81.
According to page 21 in the report "Residential Review Project Phase One Findings Report" published by MCFD in June 2011, the total number of children in government care was 10,181 in 2010. The rest are likely classified in group homes (a common warehousing facility less well known to the public) or with relatives.
It appears that there is a negative correlation between the number of foster homes in these geographic areas and the average household income in the area, namely more foster homes in poorer areas. This is consistent with our observation and can be confirmed by running a regression analysis if the average household incomes in these areas of the same time period are available. The result will likely agree with our view that poorer people are more attracted by MCFD's financial incentives to become foster parents. This will in turn lend support to our theory of financial motivation.
How Do "Child Protection" Workers Use Foster Homes of Different Qualities?
Like other service providers in the child protection industry, there are good and bad foster homes run by people with different motives. Former foster mother Mary Callahan, who had been in the business for 20 years, confirms the foregoing in her testimony provided to us.
Many seasoned "child protection" workers are calculating and know how to use situations to their best interests. The following are our observations of how they use foster homes of different qualities:
Good Foster Homes
However few they are, good foster homes are best used as a showcase to convince the public that there are substantial values in the "child protection" industry and less fortunate children are in better hands when in foster care.
Good foster homes are also used to convince older children (those over 12 years of age) to remain in care when MCFD does not have a solid case for removal or custody application. Children who take the bait may be moved to other foster homes or be adopted out if MCFD obtains a continuing custody order. The risk of the latter is discussed at length in our "Adoption & Child Removal" page.
Most foster homes fall under this category where the primary motive is money. These homes are used as warehousing facility of removed children and a money making machine to foster parents who profess to be providing tender loving care homes to children in need.
Bad Foster Homes
Bad foster homes can be characterized in many aspects, such as poor sanitary, physically or sexually abusive, or even murderous. The government certainly wants the public to believe that they do not exist, despite the fact that some removed children are repeatedly raped or killed when in care.
Common sense may suggest that these homes are a liability to the Ministry and have no value to "child protection" workers. In fact, bad foster homes are often used to beat parents into submission. Few parents could bear to see the pain, the unexplained wounds and the poor living standard their children suffered in care. Defiant parents will become submissive when their children are placed in bad homes. Many are willing to admit whatever "child protection" workers want them to admit to get their children out of these homes. Of course, many end up losing their children permanently.
Why Removed Children Are Moved Around in Different Foster Homes?
Removed children seldom stay in one foster home. At the discretion of child protection workers, they are placed in different homes, sometimes far from the homes of their parents and the schools these children attend. They do not need approval from court or parents. We have witnessed some children shuffled to three homes in four months and some young children hauled to school by taxi not escorted by adult.
Page 5 of "Trauma, Turmoil and Tragedy" published by the Representative for Children and Youth on 15 November 2012 reported that 49% of children in care experienced an average of 12 moves while in care. 5 of the youth were moved more than 30 times.
While Section 4(1)(c) of CFCSA defines the importance of continuity in the child's care as one of the best interests of child, one would find this hard to comprehend why removed children are moved frequently. Instable environment has drawn public criticism and judicial concerns.
Know that moving children around will attract unwanted attention, why do they do this? The following are some reasons that explain this phenomenon of the child protection industry:
Many, if not most, foster parents run foster homes for money. To earn a decent living, they must keep certain number of removed children at any one time. Child protection workers act as business brokers. The more foster parents they can keep, the more die hard supporters they could create with tax dollars that they may spend at their discretion. To keep them in the foster home inventory pool, child protection workers must give foster parents financial incentive every now and then. This stabilizes a major special interest instrumental to the child protection industry.
In order to make most foster parents happy, child protection workers must keep removing children and let all foster parents enjoy their share of the tax dollar pie up to the point that they will remain in the business. This will inevitably involve rotating children in different foster homes as the supply of children may not be enough in the region to allow all foster parents to be gainfully employed.
As explained above, "child protection" workers use foster homes of different quality to achieve different objectives at different phases of their game. Hence, children are shuffled to serve this purpose.
Not every foster parents agree with what child protection workers do. At times, there are conflicts of various nature between child protection workers and foster parents. We have been approached by some foster parents who wish to share their grievances. Like punishing birth parents, removing children from foster parents is often used as a weapon to exact financial punishment on those who dare to say no to these powerful bureaucrats. Disobedient foster parents will soon lose their business. Children in their care will be given to those who say yes all the times and do everything demanded by their masters. This may include calling parents to provoke a fight on the phone and record the conversation as evidence of anger control problem.
Foster parents at times may need a break for holiday or have some problems with certain children and would like to have them replaced.
Location of foster home may have been compromised by birth parents, often disclosed by removed children during supervised visits. Despite whether parents have done anything to recover their kidnapped children, this is considered a serious security risk. A typical response from MCFD is to apply for a restraining order prohibiting parents to approach the foster home, suspension of supervised visitation and phone access and move children to a different foster home.
If child protection workers are serving their alleged purposes of helping and developing families in need, why would they expect their clients (as parents are often called) to pose any risk to them or to their partners in child protection industry?
Of course, there are other reasons for moving children from home to home, such as foster home closure and foster parents retirement, at odd times. It is noteworthy to mention that when challenged on shuffling children in court, judges seldom make a binding order to oblige child protection workers to keep children in a continuous and stable environment as required by law. Inadvertently or not, the judiciary fails to honor the spirit of law, in particular, Section 4(1)(c) of CFCSA.
Furthermore, some foster parents are so subservient that they are prepared to do whatever it takes to please child protection workers who have the power to broker foster care business to whoever they see fit. We have witnessed one foster mother who phoned birth parent, provoked a fight and recorded the conversation as evidence to support the Ministry's custody application. We are unsure whether she did this on her own accord to please child protection workers or on order from them. Money talks and conscience is often secondary. The lawsuit against the government from former foster mother Teresa Iezzi below speaks to this effect.
State-sponsored child removal activities expose taxpayers to lawsuits and contingent liabilities. Sometimes, MCFD's foster parents could end up suing MCFD (to be more precise taxpayers) for damages. A former foster parent in Burnaby, British Columbia, Teresa Iezzi, went public to The Province on May 11, 2009, just one day before the provincial election. She alleged that she contracted Hepatitis C from an attack of foster child under her care and her foster parenting contract was terminated by MCFD as a result of this. She is seeking apology and financial compensation of an unspecified amount from MCFD. It is noteworthy to remark that she was earning $7,500 per month, which was her main source of income while fostering children removed by MCFD. Assuming that her income was the same at the onset of her fostering business 22 years ago, she had earned $1,980,000 from taxpayers.
This lucrative industry has attracted many service providers whose primary interest is to make money. The well being of children is often irrelevant to them.
 I'm sure the parents will see this decision as unfair to them - that I've put the onus on them to prove themselves, rather than putting the onus on the director to prove their inability. And I suppose that is what I have done. Primarily because of the very lengthy history of ongoing problems, the court must err on the side of caution, keeping J. in a known, safe environment rather than taking the risk of placing him in his parents' care."
She defined what is considered and not considered in presentation hearing. She erred on the side of caution and granted interim custody to the director (hence ensuring a prolonged separation between parent and children), alleging that foster care is a known safe place. Furthermore, cooperation (often defined as doing whatever "child protection" workers demand) with MCFD is an evaluating factor considered by court. Access of removed child is recommended but not ordered.
To evaluate the propriety of this rationale, it is important to examine whether empirical evidence agrees with the notion that foster homes are known safe place.
Negative Effects of Foster Care on Children
While government has turned on its propaganda machinery to convince Canadians to believe that children are better off in foster care, empirical evidence and research have proven the contrary. The following article contains the research results of foster care on children.
The following are empirical evidence provided by reports from various sources:
a Children's Aid Society foster child John Dunn's testimony (part 1) ...
Risk Comparison of Child Protective Services (CPS) Run Foster Homes and Parental Homes in the U.S.
Children in foster care are at a greater risk of suicide, the increased risk of suicide is still prevalent after leaving foster care and occurs at a higher rate than the general population. In a small study of twenty-two Texan youths who aged out of the system, 23% had a history of suicide attempts.
Children in foster care have an overall higher mortality rate than children in the general population. A study conducted in Finland among current and former foster children up to age 24 found a higher mortality rate due to substance abuse, accidents, suicide and illness. The deaths due to illness were attributed to an increased incidence of acute and chronic medical conditions and developmental delays among children in foster care.
The late Georgia Senator Nancy Schaefer published a report "The Corrupt Business of Child Protective Services" stating:
"The National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect in 1998 reported that six times as many children died in foster care than in the general public and that once removed to official safety, these children are far more likely to suffer abuse, including sexual molestation than in the general population".
Children in the "care" of MCFD commit suicide, die of accident, are killed or abused (see MCFD's statistics). A web site called "Protected to Death by CPS" has been established in memory of children died when "in care" of "child protection" service.
The table on the right contains 1998 U.S. statistics of risks (or maltreatment) of children in foster homes and in parental homes. Numbers speak for themselves. Contrary to what most judges allege in court, foster homes are not known safe place. Putting children in foster homes runs a much higher risk. It follows that to err on the side of caution, children should be returned to their parents in child protection hearings.
According to the joint major study released by the Representative for Children and Youth and the Provincial Health Officer on February 23, 2009:
41.2% of children (12-17) in care appear in youth court (Table 1 of this joint major study) versus 6.4% of general population, be mindful that children under the age of 12 cannot be charged of criminal offence in Canada;
According to the Growing Up In B.C. report released by the Representative for Children and Youth and the Provincial Health Officer on October 18, 2009:
Children in care are nearly three times more likely to consider suicide and nearly six times more likely to have attempted suicide at least once than youth who have never been in care.
Aboriginal children and children in care are less likely to experience
success in school.
Children in care are more likely to engage in risky behaviour, such as
using tobacco, alcohol and drugs.
Children in care are more likely to have gone to bed hungry.
Youth in care consistently talked about the challenges they face in
everyday life, such as creating and maintaining long-term relationships,
having no-one to see them graduate, not having adult support or
financial means to encourage them to do well in school or apply for
Critical Injuries and Deaths of Children In Care of MCFD
According to "Representative's Report - Critical Injuries and Deaths: Reviews and Investigations" published quarterly by the Representative of Children and Youth, the number of critical injuries and deaths of B.C. children and youth who were "in care" or receiving reviewable services are listed below:
Critical Injuries Reported
7 November 2007
1 June 2007 and 30 Sept. 2007
26 February 2008
1 Oct. 2007 and 31 Jan. 2008
9 July 2008
1 Feb. and 31 May 2008
4 November 2008
1 June and 30 Sept. 2008
18 March 2009
1 Oct. 2008 to 31 Jan. 2009
9 July 2009
1 Feb. 2009 to 31 May 2009
12 Nov. 2009
1 June 2009 30 Sept. 2009
15 March 2010
1 Oct. 2009 31 Jan. 2010
7 July 2010
1 February 2010 to 31 May 2010
4 November 2010
1 June 2010 to 30 September 2010
15 March 2011
1 October 2010 31 January 2011
14 July 2011
1 February 2011 31 May 2011
17 November 2011
1 June 2011 30 September 2011
14 March 2012
1 October 2011 31 January 2012
17 July 2012
1 February 2012 31 July 2012
28 November 2012
1 June 2012 30 September 2012
14 March 2013
1 October 2012 31 January 2013
12 July 2013
1 February 2013 31 May 2013
19 February 2014
1 June 2013 30 September 2013
15 April 2014
1 October 2013 31 January 2014
3 September 2014
1 February 2014 31 May 2014
15 January 2015
1 June 2014 30 September 2014
6 May 2015
1 October 2014 31 January 2015
19 October 2015
1 February 2015 31 May 2015
(n) where n denotes the number of cases of critical injuries and deaths while children were in care of MCFD.
[The above table was last updated on 21 October 2015.]
Children died in the hands of "child protection" agencies of their governments are memorized in the following web site:
Statistics above do not include minor problems like dirty and unsanitary foster homes and atrocities such as sexual and emotional abuse of children in foster homes.
A case to support the foregoing is the guilty plea of Howard Smith of Scarborough in January 2013 to sexual assault charges of his foster daughter who was 14-year old at the time of the crime. Like most removed children, the victim was bounced around more than 22 different foster homes in two years before ending in the Smith home. In less than a year with the Smith, the victim was sexually assaulted by Howard Smith and was pregnant with his child at age 15.
Like in most child removal cases that attract unwanted public attention for various reasons, little information is available to the public. Service providers in the child protection industry have been very successful in lobbying law that prohibits dissemination of information under the pretext of protecting child privacy.
Removed children are often bounced around in different foster homes to ensure that enough foster parents are financially kept well off in the system.
In the dark era of residential schools, children pregnant by their care givers were common. Modern child protection is of no difference.
In the news article "Teen impregnated by foster dad failed by Children's Aid Society" published on 29 January 2013, author Michele Mandel of Toronto Sun wrote: "Her CCAS worker ignored her pleas to be moved. Nobody would believe me over Mr. TTC inspector at the time, she recalled. They told me it was either there or the street." This is consistent with the experience from many foster children whose complaints of abuse in foster homes are often ignored until it gets out of hand.
Another appalling behavior often heard is the threat of retaliation if the victim dares to embarrass service providers or to uncover their wrongdoings. In this case, the victim was warned by her social worker that if she listed Smith as the father on the babys birth certificate, they would ensure her daughter was given to him. Terrified, the victim agreed to list paternity as unknown because no one was going to take away her baby. In April 2010, DNA tests confirmed the horrible story that for so long no one would believe.
Child protection workers at times are boastful of their legal knowledge with turns out to be wrong or intentionally misleading. In this case, the victim's CCAS supervisor laughed at her in 1998 and told her she could not bring charges against Smith because there was a statute of limitations. There is no time limit in criminal charges as long as the perpetrators are still alive. This could also be a ruse to discourage the victim from talking to the police.
Mary Callahan: Testimony from A Former Foster Parent
On the supply side of the equation, Mary Callahan is an emergency room nurse, cardiopulmonary nurse educator and a former foster parent. She is the author of "Fighting for Tony", "Memoirs of a Baby Stealer".
She saw the corruption in the "child protection" industry and has given her testimony from a service provider's perspective.
Despite the presence of a small number of good foster parents, Ms. Callahan stated that there are more foster parents at the other end of the spectrum who foster for money and don't care at all about the children placed with them. This lends support to refute the judicial position that foster homes are known safe environment. Please click here to view her testimony.
Foster parents are one of the true beneficiaries in the "child protection" industry. Statistics suggested that atrocities in foster homes mentioned in this page are not isolated incidents. It casts serious doubt, if not refutes outright, on the judicial allegation that foster homes are known safe place. It follows that erring on the side of caution to remove children from their families and place them in foster homes to protect them is an invalid and irresponsible proposition.
Like many other service providers in the child protection industry, many foster parents tend to be self-serving, self-righteous and self-extolling. The appreciation banner on the left (taken in a sky train station in Burnaby, British Columbia) grossly exaggerated the value of foster parents to society.
This is not to say that there is no good foster home and all foster parents are abusers and provide their services for financial reason. However, the presence of good foster parents is not sufficient to rectify corruption in the "child protection" industry. Ironically, the industry, armed by the power to remove children at will and motivated by tax dollars, is the largest institutional risk to the safety and best interests of children.
[This page was conceptualized on 15 July 2011, published on 18 July 2011, last revised on 3 August 2015.]