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Seeking accountability for Children's Aid Societies CAS

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on Fri, 07/06/2012 - 06:17
Fight Child Protection Department Corruption: 

They took a stand, but say they will pay a price.

Protestors who rallied Friday in a Court Watch protest in Chatham want Children's Aid Societies to be more accountable.

One young father - who can't be named to protect the identity of his son who is a Crown ward - claims his child suffered a broken arm and dislocated elbow before the age of one, while in foster care.

However, the father said there's been no explanation from Chatham-Kent Children's Service, as to how this happened.

The aim of Friday's protest, organized by Canada Court Watch, is to call on the province to give Ontario's ombudsman the power to investigate complaints against children's aid societies.

The man also claims the boy's foster mother was charged with careless driving, following a rollover crash.

His son was in the vehicle.

He said he's frustrated by "the amount of neglect and abuse that happened, and nobody has taken responsibility or ownership of it."

The ombudsman, he said, should have the right to investigate complaints against the CAS, "because nobody holds them accountable for their wrong doing."

The Chatham Daily News has received several complaints about the CAS over the years, but has been repeatedly told by the agency it cannot talk about specific cases or clients due to confidentiality rules.

Complaints can currently be filed with the Child and Family Service Review Board.

John Renaud, 22, has a stack of paperwork six-inches thick from his dealings with CAS over the years.

Being a Crown ward from the age of three, due to his parents' abusive relationship, Renaud said the local CAS quickly became involved when he and a former girlfriend had a child three years ago.

He claims it was due to the fact he was a Crown ward.

Renaud, who split from the mother of his child, said the CAS legitimately took his son from the mother while he was away at college in November of 2009.

He has gone through a long fight to get back the current parental custody he has of his son.

He said when the CAS was formulating a parental capacity assessment of him, the agency somehow acquired his late mother's psychiatric personality assessment inventory.

Renaud claims the CAS used that document in court to try to prove he has the same borderline personality disorder his mother was diagnosed with.

But he said the CAS won't divulge how they acquired the document.

"This is the game they play," Renaud added. "They have way too much power."

Lee Bolton of Chatham, who attended the protest, claims: "There's no oversight of the Children's Aid Society, they do whatever they want."

She claims her nephew has behavioural issues, but the CAS chose to keep him on medication and in a group home, where he was being physically abused and neglected, rather than allow him to live with a family member.

"I'm very frustrated," Bolton said, noting her nephew has been involved with the CAS for about four years.

"They have not helped him whatsoever," she said, adding his behavioural issues have been exacerbated by the medication he's kept on.

Bobbie Gellner, from the Niagara contingent of Canada Court Watch, claims the CAS is corrupt and workers often commit perjury.

"We feel that there is a need for child protection," she said. "It needs to be done in a professional way ... that they're not being vindictive against parents, they're not making up lies against parents in order to keep kids in (care)."

She said the CAS receives its funding based on the number of children in care.

Gellner said the group has not been able get a successful prosecution against the CAS - yet.

"They're still in the works, because a lot of people aren't educated as to how they can prosecute, or go against the CAS in order to even get their children back or overturn Crown wardships," she said.

By Ellwood Shreve,