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.