This letter is a follow-up to my video interview with Kim Morrow, Director of Service for Family and Children's Services of Lanark, Leeds and Grenville, which can be viewed here, http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=a12_1455745986. The video of the initial visit that began my hesitation with FCSLLG can be viewed here, http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=92c_1431344949
Background- For full video of referenced interview, initial complaint letter and audio of the non-emergency call to police that started it all, http://unpublishedottawa.com/letter/48049/three-cops-and-social-worker-how-pocket-dial-almost-ruined-lives or see just video of this interview here, http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=a12_1455745986
( Video of initial FCSLLG visit referenced in interview here, http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=92c_1431344949 )
The following letter is in response to my recent interview with Intake Manager, Erin-Lee Marcotte, and Kim Morrow, Director of Service for Family and Children's Services of Lanark, Leeds and Grenville (FCSLLG) on Feb. 3, 2016.
Feb. 24, 2016
Dear Ms. Morrow, Director of Service, FCSLLG
Following our interview on Feb. 3 2016, I am writing to highlight my concerns of that interview and suggest some actions the agency may take for addressing these concerns.
In my original complaint letter, (Jan. 25, 2016) I express that a push to meet a child protection Ministry standard took precedent over my children's best interest, in my case. I had written that I felt my matter was brought to court to rush the initial investigation. During our interview, you confirmed this, saying that a push to meet Ministry standards had taken place recently, (10m15s) and you also referred to bringing me to court as a means to “speed up the process,” (36m10s). You also refer to the court as the “complaint process” (1h26m11s) for parents. Court is for decision making, not complaint or investigation processes. I do not believe the Ministry standard of initial investigations not lasting longer than 60 days should result in bringing a family to court when no actual protection concerns have been verified, as I experienced. The same Ministry standard also says never to rush an investigation to meet timelines. You also told me this particular standard is used by FCSLLG to measure quality of service, (1h32m20s). I believe that the agency is putting its own best interest ahead of children's best interests and that service quality is actually diminishing because of this. I believe FCSLLG is striving to meet only the Ministry standards that are used to indicate the agency's level of performance. The end result is hurting children, breaking up families and costing tax-payers a lot of money in unnecessary court motions and orders.
I still have concerns in regards to being threatened with child apprehension in front of my kids. I do not believe the worker's threat was said in order to be "transparent," (2m30s) as your service manager explained during our interview. I believe the worker said it in an attempt to intimidate me into complying with her demands. This is considered extortion in the Criminal Code of Canada. It is also very concerning that this is a typical practice, condoned by FCSLLG.
I do believe an affidavit should be a verbatim account of what happened, despite you saying it shouldn't during our interview (22m22s). I do not believe an affidavit should only "embody the spirit and intent," (22m27s) of the worker at the time, as you explained. I believe this is a very dangerous practice and way of thinking, indicative of a complete disregard for judicial processes. I believe an affidavit should state the facts of what occurred, not what the worker intended to occur. I still believe your workers lied in their affidavits, which is a criminal offence, and I am very disappointed that FCSLLG condones this practice as well.
I am also extremely concerned with you telling me that my affidavit was "buried," (42m58s) and that is why none of my sworn and served responding materials were acknowledged until I brought my copy to our interview, long after the fact. You told me in our interview that "there was no record," (36m56s) of the agency receiving my documents , despite them being served upon FCSLLG on Aug. 13, 2015, and despite one worker, Mary-Beth Zeeman, acknowledging their existence in court, however not responding to them. This worker also said on video, that she does not "have anything to do with legal papers." You also said my responding materials, (which included over 50 pages of doctor's notes, assessments, recreational receipts, etc.) were not even "documented," (42m50s). This is very concerning, and as a typical practice is extremely dangerous. Buried and undocumented information may result in decisions that actually hurt children. FCSLLG's tolerance of ignoring/burying court documents submitted by parents is very alarming.
Frequently during our interview, I brought up how I tried to work cooperatively and frequently you tell me you “saw no evidence of that,” (33m34s). When I respond and show you ample evidence of that, FCSLLG blames worker negligence on "bumps along the way," (1h8m17s) and understaffing. Every one of my communications and requests with FCSLLG hit a "bump along the way," and I believe that having that many "bumps along the way" indicates a clear and consistent pattern of negligence within your agency and your complacent, minimizing attitude about the impacts of this, is concerning. These "bumps" hurt my kids, and is likely hurting other kids receiving your services. You frequently deny reading letters and case notes, then later recant this in the interview. These contradictory statements only heightened my distrust of FCSLLG.
I also have concerns about the funding priorities of the agency. During my involvement with FCSLLG, a form of mediation was offered, but not given. You told me during the interview that Alternative Dispute Resolution was likely not pursued in my case because its “funding had been used up,” (47m12s). This mediation may have saved FCSLLG, and my family, a lot of valuable time and money. Not having consistent funding for Alternative Dispute Resolution is dangerous, as no other form of mediation for parents dealing with FCSLLG exists. You also told me that the agency was understaffed during the same time-period, referring to "vacancy management" (1h44m21s) as a means to save money in the budget by not filling positions right away. Understaffing and lack of mediation were both cited by you during the interview as contributing factors to my objectionable experience with FCSLLG.
I believe a serious re-evaluation of FCSLLG practices, ethics and human rights training for staff is necessary. I was completely ignored and my concerns were dismissed or challenged throughout my entire experience, (including our interview.) This tells me that those "bumps along the way" my family experienced are not only typical, but are intentional, I believe for the agency to protect its best interest, (selective Ministry standards, funding goals and client obedience.) This is hurting vulnerable families. I believe when working with children, that the highest ethical standards should apply, which should also include workers' registration with the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers. You told me that FCSLLG had decided that it wouldn't require its workers to register with the College, (1h24m36s) and that if it did, such a decision would not be agency initiated. I found this to be concerning as well.
Going forward, I would like to work with the agency on creating client-feedback surveys as you suggested, (1h49m14s). I would also like to have the internal review panel look over my case. I believe the best way to measure and improve service is by listening to all the people you serve. I would also like an opportunity to meet with your Board of Directors. I am concerned with where the focus of the agency is heading and I do not believe it is aligned with children's best interests. I believe what's best for kids should always come first. That does not mean ignoring, picking and choosing which Ministry standards to use (or not use) against justifiably hesitant families and refusing to look at the bigger picture, as demonstrated above. I speak for many concerned families in this area.
January 25, 2016
Attention: Kim Morrow, Director of Service
Raymond Lemay, Interim Executive Director
My name is Kelley Denham and I wish to formally make a complaint against FCSLLG staff involved in my case from April 2015 to December 2015, and child protection worker Lesley Wollenschlager. Ms Wollenschlager unlawfully threatened to take my children away after I told her to leave my house and also knowingly lied in an affidavit used against my family, about this incident, to obtain a temporary motion on a prima facie basis.
FCSLLG ultimately withdrew their application for a supervision order on Dec. 17, 2015, after we provided them with a doctor’s note that we were already more than willing to provide before any court involvement. I believe the matter was only brought to court to justify the investigation going past 60 days. Initial investigations lasting longer than 60 days, are against the child protection standards. The standards also say, however, never to rush an investigation for this reason. I believe bringing the matter to court was done to rush the investigation.
In attempting to make an internal complaint in July 2015, I was told by Service Manager, Lisa Muir, that she disagreed with my concerns, and that it was up to the judge to hold her workers accountable. This conversation was recorded and is available. I believe a push to meet standards took precedent in my case over my children’s best interest.
I believe the agency acted in its best interest of meeting child protection standards, rather than my children’s best interest (working cooperatively). I believe my family suffered because FCSLLG staff did not meet timelines. After FCSLLG court initiation, a series of adjournments cost our family and FCSLLG valuable time and money unnecessarily. I believe court was completely avoidable and that staff involved in my case were negligent and/or complacent either intentionally or not.
I continually requested the correction of personal info and info in dispute resolution, to avoid court, but was ignored. I have several emails, voicemails and audio recordings that show this, and also contradict affidavits and case notes observed in my file disclosure and court file. I also have videos of various workers at my front door unannounced, being confrontational. I seek accountability of agency staff involved in my case and particularly wish to have the issue of worker Ms. Wollenschlager knowingly lie in her affidavit addressed. I also seek clarity as to whether or not the services I experienced are condoned by FCSLLG and/or typical of the organization or if it perhaps indicates an underlying issue. The services I received left me with a severe distrust of FCSLLG and I would like to know how the agency intends to address this, as well as the distrust from the public who have similar complaints resulting from poor service delivery. I would also like information on how FCSLLG measures quality of service delivery.
Below are the particulars of my complaint against Lesley Wollenschlager:
On April 29th, 2015, FCSLLG worker Lesley Wollenschlager and Constable Brad Walker came to our door, demanding entry. We (my husband, Derek Flegg and I) insisted on talking to a lawyer before letting them in and were told that would cause repercussions.
Under duress, we let them in. Ms. Wollenschlager then became hostile, stating that she did not need a warrant to take our kids. This prompted me to grab my camera and hit record, (Ms. Wollenschlager’s swore that recording began at door, which is also untrue.) Ms. Wollenschlager changed her tone somewhat. I asked several times if we could refuse entry. Constable Walker and Ms. Wollenschlager would not answer.
Eventually Ms. Wollenschlager said if we refused, she would have to seek legal counsel. At this point, I said that we were refusing and told Constable Walker and Ms. Wollenschlager to leave, three times. Ms Wollenschlager asked to see the upstairs. I again said no and told them to leave. I was then told by Constable Brad Walker that serious repercussions would occur, then Ms. Wollenschlager added “in terms of the kids being here”.
At that point my husband, Derek Flegg, had brought our children for Ms. Wollenschlager to see and this threat of child apprehension was made in front of the children. After hearing this threat, our second youngest ran around the corner and laid on the kitchen floor. She covered her eyes and would not acknowledge FCSLLG or police. The camera recorded this. After about 8 minutes of telling Ms. Wollenschlager and police to leave, they did eventually go back to their cars and waited. This incident and threat was audio/video recorded and is available. After Constable Walker and Ms. Wollenschlager waited outside the home for an hour, with our older two children returning from school during this time, they came back to the door and demanded entry again. I continued to refuse until I could speak to a lawyer. Ms. Wollenschlager continued to aggressively demand entry, saying that my concerns were “not her issue”. After about ten minutes of refusing them entry, Constable Walker and Ms. Wollenschlager said they would come back at an unspecified time, on May 1, 2015.
On July 2, 2015, despite this incident being recorded on camera and known to Lesley Wollenschlager, Ms. Wollenschlager swore information she knew to be false in an affidavit that was used as evidence against my family to obtain a temporary court order. Ms. Wollenschlager threatened to take our children immediately after I told her three times to leave my house. In her affidavit, Ms. Wollenschlager states that I had “asked to know the possible outcomes of not cooperating” and that is why she threatened my children.
I was not asking her any questions at that time, but was instead telling her to leave my house. Ms. Wollenschlager knew the video existed and acknowledged its existence two days after the incident. Ms. Wollenschlager was well aware of the video and I can provide the video at any time. I can also provide Ms. Wollenschlager’s affidavit, as well as my own affidavit. It is also a criminal offence to knowingly lie in an affidavit.
Thank you for taking time to review my concerns,