AN OPEN LETTER TO EMPLOYEES OF THE CHILDREN’S AID SOCIETIES AND THE MINISTRY OF CHILDREN & YOUTH

Dear Children’s Aid Society or Ministry Employee,

I know that there are kind and well-meaning people who work for the society. I have met workers and foster parents who truly care about the welfare of children, and it is this compassion that underpins their career choice. These workers are there 24/7 for the kids, they hold their hand and support them through broken homes, callous foster placements, talk them through their fears and confusion, and help them adjust to the frequent changing of schools while advocating for them with their teachers and principals. They are a friend and a mentor to these kids, helping them create new friendships and mend hard aches. These workers regularly attend their kids’ musicals, recitals and sports events – the child always knows there’s someone in the audience who’s there for them, to hear them perform and give them the confidence they need to develop into young adults.

I know you exist because I’ve met you. I’ve watched you work and in doing so, I developed a sincere appreciation and respect for your kind and loving efforts toward the children in your care.

I have also listened to foster parents and employees express frustration with the bullying they’ve experienced from their co-workers and supervisors. The burden of responsibility for these children’s lives is great, and workers are often asked to do things that starkly contradict their personal moral and ethical code. More than one CAS social worker has expressed to me that the policies of the agency they worked at, starkly contradicted the mandate and responsibilities toward children and families that they were taught in College or University by a professor or mentor in the field.

I also know what it’s like to witness corruption at the highest level of management and not be able to do anything about it, except quit. It is easier for management to discredit you than it is to openly challenge your employer. Quitting jeopardizes your income, which then has enormous consequences if you have a family to support. Quitting can also adversely effect your future employment prospects. It is a big and scary step. Unemployment insurance is also not kind to employees who quit, and organizations prefer someone quit than pay out severance. The consequences of speaking out can result in unbearable discrimination, an impossible work environment and ultimate blacklisting. So I understand the dilemma you face and why you choose to carry on and do your best with what you have.

I have also met workers and decision makers, who have exhibited contempt, hostility, disgust and indifference towards these children. It is these people, in positions of unquestionable authority, who place children in grave danger by exploiting their vulnerable lives for personal gain. Conversely, I have met decision makers at CAS whose scope of responsibility ends where their colleague’s begins. They are then forced to watch, in distress, from the sidelines as children are crudely discarded, used and abused. I have seen and experienced the complexity of the organizational structure at CAS. It is an environment that compromises the integrity of everyone who works there, including well-meaning donors and board members who are often times social justice advocates and educators themselves.

The climate of corruption that you and I have witnessed, jeopardizes the lives and well-being of vulnerable children who cannot speak out or defend themselves. The issue is not isolated to one or two cases. Given your time in the agency, you know this to be true because you have seen and experienced it more than once. This is a systemic problem and it is critically affecting the lives of thousands of children, who need you to respond swiftly and not turn a blind eye. Every day that passes is a day lost in their lives.

What is happening with the Children’s Aid needs to be openly and honestly discussed with the public. The stakes are not corporate shares or losing value on the stock market. The stakes are children’s lives, and these lives are in danger. You know it because you’ve seen it, and the pain of watching it unfold keeps you up at night. Corruption and the indifference toward children’s lives will not withstand public scrutiny. You are part of a system that is ready to implode. I have spoken to dozens of witnesses and experts in the field with various points of view. All concur on one point: The system must change. And it will.

This letter is an open invitation for employees at the Children’s Aids and at the Ministry of Children and Youth to contribute to this work. Irregardless of your position or status, or what you’ve been privy to or participated in, you have my absolute commitment that if you want your identity to remain anonymous, I will do my best to support your wish. On behalf of the children, parents, caring foster parents, and employees such as yourself, I urge you to speak out and become an integral part of introducing positive and important change at the Children’s Aid Societies of Ontario.

You can contribute here: Add Your Voice by clicking the “Start Now” button.

Sincerely,
Esther Buckareff
Primary Researcher, Director

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Related:

In leaked memo, Peel CAS staff asked to keep cases open to retain funding
Katie Daubs, Toronto Star, March 14, 2013
Peel CAS Staff member leaked an internal memo to Toronto Star that asks staff to keep case files open as a means to secure funding for March. Daubs writes, “An internal memo from Peel Children’s Aid Society management asks staff not to close any ongoing cases during March, as part of a strategy to secure government funding…The memo was signed by seven senior managers…” Read Article

re: CAS staff asked to keep cased open to retain funding
Letter to the Editor, Toronto Star, March 16, 2013
Former Toronto area CAS Supervisor writes, “From now on it’s all about the numbers…” Read letter

 

 

 

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2 Responses to AN OPEN LETTER TO EMPLOYEES OF THE CHILDREN’S AID SOCIETIES AND THE MINISTRY OF CHILDREN & YOUTH

  1. I appreciate your writing this letter to the CAS’s as a means of inviting them to have their side heard. It appears the agencies chose not to participate and that is their choice. For those individuals who have participated and who may or may have worked at or volunteered with a CAS in any capacity, including possibly on the Board, I commend you for doing so. Even if a CAS or all of the CASs retaliate against you for doing so, you have done the right thing and in time, change will come. At first you have to suffer the short term stress of the retaliation, but in the long run, you can feel good in knowing you did the right thing. Stay strong, you will make it through. Also the threat of charges if they do come from a Society or agency as a result of particpating in this documentary will only be through provincial offences court and will not result in a Criminal Code offence or record. It is a provincial offence, therefore you will not have a criminal record as a result of it.

    Stay strong.. for the kids.

    John Dunn
    Foster Care Survivor of 16 years in care and thirteen placements (my brother as well)

  2. Jodi says:

    Grandparents NEED to be given recognition in the law as interested members in a child’s life. They are a part of the child’s immediate family and roots.

    Grandparents are often shut out of abused children’s lives and they have NO legal recourse, nor can they legally help the children.

    Children trust a grandparent over any agency or foster parent. Changes need to be made to the Children’s Law Reform Act.