Family Court Crisis: Our Children at Risk ...

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In Canada, child protection is the jurisdiction of each province and territory. Each jurisdiction has its own statute and a ministry of different names to carry out its child protection mandate. In British Columbia, the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) is in charge of children welfare including child protection and adoption. The governing statute in the child protection arena is the Child, Family and Community Service Act (CFCSA) enacted by the provincial New Democratic Party (NDP) in 1996. CFCSA replaced the previous act Family and Child Service Act, S.B.C. 1980, c. 11 that authorized state-sponsored child removal.

Our Message to Child Protection Workers

Generally speaking, child protection concerns in British Columbia are neglect, failure to protect children from harm, harmful substance addiction, poverty, mental, physical and sexual abuse (see Table 2a and 2b in Child and Family Services Statistical Report 1998-1999 to 2000-2001 published by Human Resources and Social Development Canada). The B.C. Handbook for Action on Child Abuse and Neglect prepared by MCFD is a good reference to the common concerns in child protection.

Child protection is a major function of MCFD. Social workers employed by MCFD are "exempt persons" under the Social Workers Act and are not required to register with the British Columbia College of Social Workers (BCCSW). Therefore, they are not abide by the Code of Ethics established by the BCCSW. They have the statutory authority to remove children under 19 years of age in the province. Most child removals are done by those from Risk Assessment Team.

MCFD established an extensive surveillance network to detect child abuses in the province. Social workers station in most major hospitals. They maintain regular contacts with schools, day care centers, medical clinics and the police where there is a higher chance to observe child abuses first hand.

They encourage children and parents (especially mothers) to come forward for “help”. They also rely on the public to report child abuses. Pursuant to Section 14(1) of CFCSA, everyone has the duty to report child abuse to MCFD. Despite the punitive provisions [Section 14(3) to 14(7) of CFCSA] to deter false accusations, informants are only required to have reason to believe that a child needs protection (a very low and subjective standard of test) and enjoy whistle-blower protection [see Section 14(2) of CFCSA]. This forms a very powerful and yet fallible mechanism opens to abuse by various interested parties to use overly empowered Gestapo-like social workers (a special type of law enforcer) to achieve different self-serving objectives other than protecting children.

The Wikipedia article titled "Child Protection" below gives an informative overview of the history, impacts of removal on children, misconduct and problems in the "child protection" industry in English-speaking nations.

The Investigation and Legal Process

Child protection hearing is a legal process intended to protect children and assist parents in need to improve their ability in parenting, but penal in nature. However, the gripes, allegations and tactics used by social workers bear more resemblance of those found in witch hunt, oppression and office politics. Most parents under scrutiny are from the grass root society. They lack the means and knowledge to fight such formidable opponent. One of the most disturbing tactics is to put families under duress and use children as pawn to force their parents to testify against the other spouse in court.

For the ease of reference, the following materials are linked:

  1. MCFD's report processing chart;
  2. the child protection legal proceedings charts (from Appendix 1 and 2 of Judicial Case Conferences materials prepared by The Honorable Associate Chief Judge E. Dennis Schmidt, Provincial Court of British Columbia for the National Judicial Institute, March 2001); and
  3. the administrative procedures of alternative dispute resolution and court proceedings under CFCSA provided by MCFD dated January 2004.

Like the tactics discussed on the main "MCFD Tactics" page, these expensive, tedious and lengthy bureaucratic and legal processes outlined in these flowcharts and procedures require massive manpower and various “professional” services. Taxpayers bear most of the burden in financing these activities.

Except those who have gone through the process and received “family development” plan of “care” prescribed by MCFD, few could image what tactics social workers use to incriminate parents in order to justify the removal of their children and how harmful they are to children, families and society.

Open "Child Protection" Reports By Duration (source: MCFD's "Statement on Open Protection Reports")

The following briefly summarizes how protection reports fit into the child welfare system.

child protection chart

  • Intake

    Intake is the first decision point in child welfare case management. It is the process of receiving, gathering and assessing information in order to determine the appropriate response under the CF&CS Act. Intakes can either be protection reports regarding child maltreatment or requests for family and youth services.

  • Protection Reports

    Protection reports are calls the ministry receives from the public about children possibly at risk. Calls are assessed by ministry staff against child safety criteria and then staff choose a response that fits the child’s assessed need. Possible responses to a child protection report include initiating an investigation, initiating a family development response (it is less invasive and more collaborative than a traditional investigation), or deciding not to pursue an investigation. At a minimum, the protection report remains open until the completion of the investigation or family development response.

  • Investigation

    An investigation is opened when the social worker is concerned that a child’s safety or health may be in immediate danger or the child may be vulnerable to serious harm because of age or developmental level. An investigation is closed when the social worker determines whether or not the child is in need of protection. The majority of investigations are initiated from protection reports; however, there are cases when a child protection investigation is the appropriate response to request for family support services or youth services or to a family development response.

  • Family Development Response (FDR)

    This response to a child protection report occurs when an assessment identifies that the risk of harm can be managed through the provision of intensive, time-limited support services. It includes a strengths-based assessment of the family’s capacity to safely care for a child, and provision of support services.

  • Requests for Family and Youth Services

    A family can approach the ministry and receive information about and referrals to support services (e.g., Big Brothers, counselling), and when required, arrange for support services through written, goal-oriented agreements. A request for youth services is like a request for family services, except it pertains to one young person in the family. It involves screening, assessment, short-term planning and utilization of youth support services, such as youth-family mediation, mentorship, safe housing and outreach services.

Data on open protection reports by duration from May 1998 to May 2010.

open protection reports

Know Your Opponent in the "Child Protection" Game

Opponent is a strong word. But it precisely describes your relationship with MCFD once your children are removed. MCFD is at a de facto rival relationship with you. The system sets parents and the government on a collision path. Face it and get your mind straight. Treat them as your opponent but do not display hostility. Please read our "Parent Support" page for more information.

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, your victory will not stand in doubt;
if you know Heaven and know Earth, you may make your victory complete.”
(Chapter 10 The Terrain, Sun Tze “The Art of War”)
Social worker recruitment propaganda
The video on the left is a typical propaganda material that government wants its people to believe what state-employed "child protection" social workers are. We are uncertain who made this video and from what country of origin. It appears that it is made for the purpose of recruiting social workers. Their image portrayed herein is kind, caring, helpful, professional, courteous and respectful. They are experts in helping families to deal with domestic violence and child abuse. The comments posted by viewers tell a very different story of what they are in real life. The damage control team of the "child protection" agency had posted comments to counter the negative comments posted against them. Nobody is in a better position to comment on them than families and children who had received "services" from them. These unfortunate parents have first hand experience in witnessing the impacts of interventions from social workers to children, families and society. Most of them believe that they are wolves in sheep skin and are not doing what this video tells.
MCFD Command Structure

The Ministry is organized into five regions: North, Interior, Fraser, Vancouver Coastal and Vancouver Island. "Child protection" is one of the many responsibilities of the Ministry. The Ministry’s legislative mandate includes the Child, Family and Community Service Act, Adoption Act, Youth Justice Act, Child Care BC Act, Child Care Subsidy Act and Social Workers Act.

The chart on the left hand side depicts the organizational structure of the "child protection" division in MCFD. Except the regional manager, all positions belong to the union.

The regional "child protection" consultant is their in-house shrink providing risk assessment support to social workers. Most oppressed parents only have direct contacts with the social worker in charge of their files. This allows social workers to filter information and dictate what information would reach their superior.

"Child Protection" Risk Assessment Model

The textbook definition of risk in the "child protection" industry is a combination of an estimate of the probability of a target behavior occurring with a consideration of the consequences of such occurrences (Towl and Crighton 1996). However, risk is alleged to exist as long as social workers perceive so in practice.

In theory, social workers follow the algorithm of a risk assessment model. At the point of writing (May 2008), insider information suggests that MCFD considered adopting the California Model. Typically, risk assessment model is developed by practitioners and Ph.D. degree holders in psychology. Although they call themselves doctors, they are not psychiatrist (a medical practitioner specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of mental illness). We are unable to find the risk assessment model used by MCFD. A 2005 risk model developed by a Dr. Vic Tuck in Warwickshire, United Kingdom is linked for your reference. Be mindful that this model is simply a set of procedures subject to subjective judgment. It is not a science. In practice, social workers have a lot of latitude to twist findings and conclusions to their liking.

For the benefit of those under MCFD scrutiny, the MCFD Comprehensive Risk Assessment Form (as of February 11, 2009) in pdf format is linked for reference (added on February 11, 2009).

How Does MCFD Acquire This Amount of Power?

Public ignorance, monopoly of "child protection" policy by service providers and lack of representation of parents allow "child protection" social workers to build their undue power over time. The cartoon on the right precisely describes the reality that even provincial court judges are powerless to protect parents should they be abused by the "child protection" authority, let alone punishing bureaucrats with unbefitting behavior. The foregoing may appear absurd to many Canadians. Be mindful that there is no disciplinary provision in both CFCSA and the provincial Social Workers Act (MCFD social workers are exempted from this Act), hence judges lack statutory authority other than denying what "child protection" social workers seek. Decisions from the judiciary can be overruled without any reason, fresh evidence and/or order from higher courts (as allowed per Section 36 of CFCSA). For instance, if a judge orders custody of children back to their parents under a supervision order, MCFD may re-remove them if "child protection" social worker believes that the supervision order is insufficient to "protect" the children. The soonest re-removal we have come across is 15 minutes after the return of children to their parents.

The power of "child protection" social workers derives from:

  1. legislation (their power to remove children with little proof and no consequence to themselves for any wrongdoings);
  2. police must help social workers as obliged by law;
  3. tax dollars that motivate various special interest groups to collaborate with social workers;
  4. failure of the judiciary to provide sufficient check and balance, hence creating many legally binding precedents in favor of MCFD;
  5. a successful strategy of using huge public resources to oppress a very small number of underprivileged parents who are very unlikely to garner enough support to fight back effectively; and
  6. the apathy of the general public to rectify such a serious socio-political problem as most Canadians find the abuse of authority unbelievable or do not concern them at all (the 2006 demographics data indicate that over 46% of all Canadians and 49% of British Columbians do not have children, many of them wrongly assume that this problem does not affect them).

An Ontario child protection law firm J.N. Mukongolo & Associates states:

            "A court must see that you (parents) are willing to address the issues that caused the Society (The Ontario Children’s Aid Society, MCFD's counterpart in Ontario) to become involved in the first place or it will not be willing to end the Society’s involvement with the family."        

This remark implies the biased attitude of the judiciary that the child protection agency's involvement is justified at the onset and parents must address the child protection concerns before the agency's intervention ends. This gives child protection agency an undue amount of power. The judiciary fails its duty to provide check and balance and to serve the best interests of families.

Furthermore, society's ignorance of the true nature of "child protection" and the existence of some real child abuse cases allow the opportunity to build power over time. The murder of the three young Schoenborn children (Kaitlynne, 10, Max, 8, and Cordon, 5) in Merritt, B.C. on April 6, 2008 is a typical example of how special interest groups lobby more money and more power (tighter law in this case) whenever tragedies involving children occur. Vancouver lawyer Kathleen Walker (a former Crown counsel now practicing family law) has called for a "Cordon's Law" (in honor of the youngest victim) which would create "a super-duper restraining order" against those who might harm their families (see the April 20, 2008 The Province page A6 below).

20080420 Province A6 Tougher law to protect kids by Kathleen Walker

No law can eliminate child abuse. As long as children exist, there will be abuse. The Schoenborn tragedy speaks to this effect. In our opinion, the Criminal Code (in particular no contact bail order amounts to a removal of risk) and the Mental Health Act [in particular Section 29(1)] are sufficient to deter child abuse and give the authority adequate power to protect children. CFCSA seldom serves the best interests of children. It is redundant, oppressive, dangerous and creates many false child abuse cases in which families are traumatized and parents unjustly persecuted while special interest groups milk taxpayers under the pretext of "child protection".

Their Strengths and Weaknesses

The strengths of MCFD are analyzed below:

  1. huge financial resources as they have access to the deep pocket of taxpayers;
  2. near absolute authority to remove children under 19 years of age with little or no fear of repercussion of making wrong or malicious bureaucratic decisions;
  3. biased judiciary, lopsided statute and legal process in favor of MCFD (as evident by a 98% success rate of obtaining an interim custody order in Section 35 CFCSA hearings in 2001);
  4. "child protection" social workers employed by MCFD are not required to registered with the British Columbia College of Social Workers (BCCSW) and are not abide by the Code of Ethics established by the BCCSW;
  5. occupying the moral high ground of child protection;
  6. supported by various organizations and professional governing bodies as the livelihood of their members is dependent on MCFD’s child removal activities;
  7. lack of disciplinary provisions parents could rely on to rectify unbefitting behavior of social workers and unlawful bureaucratic decisions;
  8. public unawareness and apathy of the reality in the “child protection” industry;
  9. abuse of authority of some social workers are so absurd that most Canadians would find unbelievable;
  10. many politicians find complaints against MCFD politically distasteful and are reluctant to institute ameliorative changes;
  11. many oppressed parents generally fear reprisal, are too few in numbers, not organized, lack resources and knowledge, and are preoccupied by other problems that prevent them from garnering enough support to protect their rights effectively;
  12. bias from the public against parents under MCFD’s scrutiny.

Despite these fearsome edges and the unassailable appearance, this paper tiger does have one fatal weakness, namely, they are against the best interests of the people and the conscience of most Canadians who believe in human rights, social justice and civil liberty. Despise your opponent strategically but take them seriously at the tactical level because they do have the power to remove your children (and those of your sympathizers in some extreme cases, watch the video in this link if you do not believe) at will and destroy your family without fear of any repercussion. They would like the public to believe that it takes a lot more than their perception of risk to remove children. This may be written on their operation manual. However, we have many parents whose children were removed without solid reason. In practice, child protection law is very different from what was legislatively intended, let alone MCFD's child removal policy.

The judiciary’s underlying child protection philosophy is found on the reverse criminal justice axiom that it is better ten guilty go free than that one innocent person be unjustly punished. This attitude in adjudicating child protection cases will inevitably create trauma to families from which children are unduly removed and parents inhumanely oppressed. In many cases, the judiciary turns itself into a very expensive rubber stamp endorsing most decisions made by social workers. Even if a judge is convinced that a social worker is acting improperly, there is nothing he can do to punish the wrongdoer other than denying what the director seeks. Provincial court judges lack the power to prevent vexatious litigation if a social worker repeatedly removes children without fresh evidence [as this is allowed in Section 36(1) of CFCSA]. Given the huge resources of MCFD, this can be easily accommodated. "Child protection" social workers do not exaggerate when some of them claim that they are above law and do not have to do what judges order.

Some of these tactics are sugar-coated poison. Others are calculative and indicative of wanton cruelty and blatant abuse of power. They all aim at justifying the removal of children and obtaining custody order from court, not helping families in need. Once MCFD obtains a continuous custody order pursuant to Section 49 of CFCSA, social workers are legally authorized to put removed children in the adoption market (see Section 50 of CFCSA). Natural parents will lose their children permanently if MCFD is successful in a continuous custody hearing.

"He is a liar, The demon is a liar. He will lie to confuse us. But he will also mix lies with the truth to attack us. The attack is psychological, Damein. And powerful. So don't listen."

The above fictional movie script from "The Exorcist" (1973) is the instructions from Father Lankester Merrin (played by Max von Sydow) to Father Damien Karras (played by Jason Miller) before exorcizing.

Incidentally, it precisely and concisely summarizes the tactics often used against parents. Mixing lies with some truth is a simple but powerful tactic. The attack on parents is not only psychological but also financial and emotional. Many parents scrutinized by MCFD are under duress to consent to supervision or custody order. In some more extreme cases, parents are forced to admit guilt of child abuse in court in exchange for consideration of returning their children. Needless to say, once parents admit guilt, it further justifies MCFD's position to remove their children and many lose their children permanently. Criminal charges are often laid to inflict maximum damage and to enhance the chance of obtaining custody of removed children.

Of course, these are all done under the pretext of child protection at huge public expense and blatant invasion of human rights and civil liberty. Such barbaric acts against humanity could easily provoke parents to commit more crimes, creating more tragedies, hence "proving" social worker's theory of abusive parents. The killing of Social Worker Boni Frederick in Henderson, Kentucky allegedly by a mother Renee Terrell during the last supervised visit with her removed child before adoption in October 2006 speaks to this effect. Social workers immediately lobbied for more funding and power alleging that they do not get enough protection while doing their jobs. Martyrizing social workers gives them a perfect excuse to get more money, power and, above all, sympathy from the people. The Kentucky state government subsequently passed a bill called Boni Frederick Bill (2007 House Bill 362) in March 2007 with no politician opposing in both the House and the Senate to enhance the safety of state social workers. Politicians do not seem to realize that this tragedy could be prevented if children are not removed from their parents. Such notorious activities will most certainly expose social workers to danger. It is natural that a mother grizzly bear will attack if her cubs are taken away. She will not stop charging even if an elephant gun is pointing at her. Furthermore, many social workers often provoke parents during supervised visits. This could easily cause parents to act out of character.

Empowering bureaucrats with authority to remove children and adjudicating custody in court will inevitably put parents and government on a collision course. Such setting is unlikely to serve the best interests of children, family and society at large.

Implementation of these tactics requires huge manpower and many “professional” services from psychologists, lawyers, counselors, supervised visitation workers, foster parents whose financial well being depends on MCFD’s activities. The current child protection system is very successful in creating employment and business opportunities to some special interest groups. Taxpayers have to determine the propriety of financing these harmful activities to families and society. It is noteworthy to add that another lucrative activity monopolized by MCFD (as mandated by the Adoption Act) is inter-country adoption which is beyond the scope of our discussion on this page.


[This page was created since inception, last revised 22 July 2015.]