This is part three of The Crime Hump Chronicles, the creative non-fiction narrative of quantum events.
My Friday starts. My husband already has the coffee on. I read our small town’s local weekly newspaper. I’m in it again.
It’s a school day and the morning is busy. I drop the kids off at school. I can tell who reads the newspaper by the glares I get.
I spend the day volunteering downtown at the drop-in centre.
I go to pick up my kids from school. Also waiting at the front office are various school staff and parents that have said some not-so-nice things about me on social media. I hope if they come to my trial, they brace themselves for the shocking truth, again. We drive home and my kids tell me about their day.
We play, eat, clean-up, play, do homework, play, then I put my kids to bed. I stretch out on my chair for about an hour, play on my computer before getting ready for work.
There is a heated debate about basic income going on in our town. I’m in a Facebook group about it. Unfortunately, the mayor’s wife is also in this group. I know if I post anything, she will kick me out of the group. I just can’t help myself though. Within ten minutes, I am banned. At least a few people got to read my article.
I throw on my backpack and work clothes. I have a voicemail. He wants me to pick up while I’m in the city. I call my other phone, the one Detective/Constable Rodcocker seized. He left the same message on it. I think I should tell him not to call that number, but I don’t want to tell him that my house was raided. I could make something up, but I can’t lie. No time for an ethics debate. It won’t be a problem for another week and I should leave now.
I drive to the city. I work in a bad neighborhood. I work all night. I have a physically demanding job. In the morning, I am very tired.
I stop to pick up on my way home. I ring the buzzer at a side door. A guy lets me in. He is the same guy that always lets me in. He lets me go to the back now. There are four carts and they are full. I bring them to my van and start loading. I drive back to my small town to drop it off. I am beyond tired at this point. I know this because I have a rush of energy. Usually one of the regulars walks by and helps me unload in exchange for first pick of the treats.
This week, we got a lot of muffins and apple turnovers. I put the baguettes on a chair to prop open the door while we unload my van. They need to be given out today because they’ll be as solid as a rock by tomorrow. The centre has lots of bread to give out this week. While we unload the van, a local business owner stops by and asks if she can bring her leftover knitted mittens and hats. I tell her yes, absolutely!
I finally go home. My husband already has the coffee on. I’m not sure when, but my Saturday has already begun.
Sounds like a typical day in the life of a cyber terrorist, right? Was there an unprecedented hack? Or was there a not-so unprecedented breach of statutory duty? Today, the newspapers only report the allegations made against me. But tomorrow never lies. The truth will come out. It always does.
While I was in college, we were given a question as part of an assignment. If you were to enact one law related to children and families, what would it be called and what would be its purpose? Today, I am going to elaborate on the three sentence answer I gave back then. (shout outs to Algonquin College, Perth, SSW Program 2015 grads!)
With the tabling of the new legislation by CYS minister Michael Coteau to completely replace the Child and Families Services Act, it is time to seriously consider what the real problems in child protection law are and how to resolve them.
I have written before about how the problems in social services are not complicated. Therefore, the legislation I would propose would not be complicated either. Coteau’s new legislation aims to provide high-quality care to children who have been apprehended. The legislation I would propose would aim to provide high-quality care to children. Period. All kids. I would call it the The Wake the Hell Up People Act and its purpose would be to recognize the importance of children as our future and guarantee all resources for them. This would extend to every child, not just children in care. It would not penalize and shame parents for failure to provide these resources, but would instead help with its provision. The number one cause of child apprehension in Ontario is neglect. The number one cause of neglect is poverty. The Wake the Hell Up People Act would try to prevent that.
Let’s take that $1.5 billion used to fund Children Aid Societies in Ontario and use it to eradicate child poverty. Not just for food and snowsuits but also free recreational sports and equipment, less the red tape and stigma of having to be “eligible” for such charity. It should be free and guaranteed for every child.
The real problems with child protection law is that children do not come first. Money, employment law, the tax-payer, policy and procedure - among other things, come first. There is nothing more important than children and legislation should reflect that. The real solution is simple. The needs of the child are paramount. Always. No Exception.
Here are some things to know when making a complaint about child protection services.
A reporter, a filmmaker, a project manager, SEO expert, and an understanding of organizational structure, legislation, governance and the HR run-around – all skills I did not have before making a complaint about child protection services. Unbeknownst to me, these skills would be required to have my concerns – at the very least – acknowledged.
First, you request a complaint procedure pamphlet. Here, it breaks down the complaint procedure into two categories, each with their own legislated steps. The internal process, along with the external process both start with making your complaint in writing. Then a determination is made as to whether your complaint meets their criteria for review. So, if you want your complaint to be heard, you need to know the criteria that would make your complaint eligible for review. Here is where you start to study the legislation. I will be writing about the internal process, as the external process typically comes with a publication ban that does little to afford accountability – the ultimate goal.
Next comes the meeting. It could be with a manager, the Director of Service, or both. Here’s where it is important to understand governance. There is not a whole lot the Director of Service can do to change the business practices of the agency. These decisions are made by the executive director along with the board of directors and CYS ministry. So, if your complaints are organizational in nature (ie, understaffing) you can expect the complaint to fall on deaf ears at this stage of the process. If your complaint is about anything else, you can expect the typical HR response that admits no wrong or severely minimizes the impacts of poor service delivery in child protection services.
If you have been recording your interactions with the agency, now is the time for careful review. Posting video/audio publicly can help generate feedback from peers. Using basic movie editing software can help attract more viewers and add pressure to the agency. The agency may even retract their statements that you made public. Using the agency’s name repeatedly in public postings also impacts their SEO (or google-ability) stats. This will help future complainants in knowing what to expect from the complaint process, should they google the agency.
If you have not yet been coerced into thinking your complaint has been addressed, next comes the internal complaint review panel. This is the final step of the internal process. You may be asked to sign an undertaking that says you will not record the meeting.
What is the end-result for making a complaint about child protection services? You may get an apology letter. You may get an apology letter that blames you. Your children will not be apprehended and your file will not be re-opened for making a complaint about service.
You also impact the agency’s performance indicators. Performance indicators are used by the agency to measure quality of service to the CYS ministry. An agency serving 1000 clients, receives about seven complaints a year. Does that mean the agency is doing a good job? Or is the ministry using systemic oppression and structural barriers to its advantage? Because anyone who has been involved with a child protection agency can effectively utilize this process to be heard, right?
The agency thanks you for your interest in making a complaint, however only those selected for review will be contacted.