The mental suffering and physical pain intentionally inflicted by the workers of the Children’s Aid Societies, on children and parents cannot be silenced with the help of the mainstream media, "Children’s aid societies launch major training reforms." The human misery, practice of torture and magnitude of the crimes carry out by government and private institutions especially on defenseless children are well documented to keep on the dark and hide to the world. Why this impunity? If massive crimes against humanity are committed every day in foster homes, group homes and courtrooms! Why no domestic or international court could prosecute all those treacherous delinquents who destroy or shattered the lives of tens of thousands of families every year?
Parents Incarcerated for no reason!
Children’s aid societies launch major training reforms
New recruits will have to pass standardized course and final exam during a four-month training period before they’re authorized to apprehend children.
Children’s aid societies in Ontario have launched a major reform of training for child protection workers, setting province-wide standards designed to eventually have workers regulated by a professional college.
“We want to make sure that the people who are doing the work have the very best training and competence to be able to do it,” says Mary Ballantyne, CEO of the Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies (OACAS).
But the union representing child protection workers is firmly opposed to oversight from a professional college, and the Ministry of Children and Youth Services, which regulates and funds child protection, is so far staying out of the fight.
The reforms begin with a pilot project in May for a new “authorization” process to be implemented next January across Ontario. This part of the plan has union support.
New recruits will have to pass eight standardized courses — and a final exam — during a four-month training period before they are authorized to fully perform child protection duties, including apprehending children suffering neglect or abuse from their parents.
That’s a significant change from the current practice, in which workers are authorized to perform all duties the minute they are hired. This has long left children’s aid societies open to complaints from parents questioning the competence of the workers that enter their homes.
Ballantyne notes child protection workers already receive training after being hired by Ontario’s 47 privately run societies. The new authorization program revamps, expands and standardizes that training province-wide, from how to conduct abuse investigations to how to assess whether parental neglect is hurting a child’s development.
“We’re taking it up to that next level so that the public has confidence that when someone knocks on their door they know that they have met these minimum requirements,” says Ballantyne, whose association represents all but three of Ontario’s societies.
The authorization process was recommended by an inquest into the death of Jeffrey Baldwin, a 5-year-old who starved to death in 2002 after being placed with his abusive grandparents. The Catholic Children’s Aid Society of Toronto failed to perform record checks on the grandparents, who had prior convictions for assaulting their own children.
Sheryl Jarvis, co-founder of Community Action for Families, a Toronto group supporting mothers involved with the child welfare system, describes authorization as long overdue.
“The situation now is horrible,” Jarvis says. “Who else does things this way? Imagine being in an industrial workplace and they train you on how to use the machinery only after you have already been using it. It’s a backward and dangerous process, and in children’s aid you’re dealing with people’s lives.”
The key is for training to focus on getting families the supports needed to stay together, particularly when parents are struggling with poverty, mental health issues or addictions, Jarvis adds. In 2014-15, an average of 15,625 children were taken from parents and placed in foster care or group homes.
The next step, Ballantyne says, is to have Ontario’s estimated 5,160 child protection workers registered and regulated by a professional college. Fifty-five per cent have a bachelor’s (BSW) or master’s degree in social work. A BSW is the minimum required to join the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers, which is discussing the registration process with societies.
The college, which regulates more than 17,400 people involved in social work, should be ready to register child protection workers with a BSW “within the next year or so,” she says. For those without the degree, the college and OACAS are working to set up training and courses that would equal one. Ballantyne expects this process to be complete in three or four years.
Once registered, child protection workers would have their practices, standards and ethical code regulated by the college. The college would have the power to investigate complaints from parents and to discipline workers for professional misconduct or incompetence.
Ballantyne flatly states those who do not register with the college will be unable to perform child protection work in Ontario.
But Nancy Simone, president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees local representing 275 workers at the Catholic Children’s Aid Society of Toronto, argues child protection workers already have levels of oversight that include workplace supervisors, family courts, coroners’ inquests and annual case audits by the ministry.
“Our work is already regulated to death.”
Protection workers, she adds, are overworked, which is made worse by ministry budget cuts. That’s usually why standards aren’t met, she argues. “Our concern is that the college will focus blame on individual workers rather than system-wide issues.”
Simone notes several collective labour agreements prevent children’s aid societies from obliging workers to join a regulatory college unless required by law. The ministry sidestepped a question emailed by the Star on whether it would impose the requirement, stating instead that it is funding the authorization process.