I cannot go downtown London without witnessing bad parenting. I mean, really really bad. The same is true of the buses, which I often ride. Sometimes even the malls. I see at least two or three examples of this every time I leave the house and I cannot believe these people have their children while good, loving parents have had their children apprehended by CAS of London. I was having a discussion with someone about a particular and frequent sighting. A young native girl who frequents D&R with her toddler, usually dressed completely inappropriately for the weather and always crammed into an umbrella stroller (with no cover in rain or snow.) This girl stands downtown every day trying to sell stolen goods to get drugs. The person I was speaking with had actually called CAS and reported this mother. CAS told her that despite the fact that she could give a location and description of the person in question, if she didn’t know her name they could not become involved. Really?!
My most recent sighting was a man, who I assume would be the father or perhaps the mother’s boyfriend, involved in some sketchy dealings with another man on the corner, with his toddler in a wagon that was meant to look like a car. The toddler had a black eye. The man was covered in jail style tattoos and had the look that inspires me to think “Yep. He’s addicted to Oxycontin.” I can usually pick them out pretty well, unfortunately. It was extremely hot and his child was crying hysterically. He finally said “I wish I could just beat him when he cries like this!” Who says that? That coupled with the fact that the toddler looked like he already had been beaten gave me chills. I was about to tell the gentleman I was with to do something, when another man stepped in and told him “You do not hit him.” It was an uncomfortable scene, and thankfully my bus pulled up. I was glad to finally see somebody step in and do something. Finally! Any time I’ve tried I’ve been dragged away and told that I’m going to get myself stabbed one day. And people downtown London do stab each other, and stick each other with needles, and apparently bite each other’s ears off. It’s really no place for children at all.
London CAS is an atrocity. I will be gathering information, including reports showing their budget versus their pay for executives. Scandals found upon auditing, which revealing little money for foster children but gym memberships, SUVs, and Caribbean vacations for employees. Reports of children who have died in care, and the mortifying lack of accountability. Accounts of what foster care in London is like, from former foster children. The targeting of native, ill, disabled, and lower income children. That’s a small sample of the issues I hope to shed some light on.
Children’s Aid Societies in Ontario need Ombudsman oversight. Children are our future. If you don’t have any children, this issue should still matter to you. Do you have a heart? Do you know someone with children? Simply knowing you are a good parent isn’t always enough to save you, especially if a disgruntled former friend or estranged family member decides to file a false complaint. You may allow CAS into your life believing you have nothing to hide because you are a good parent; but if they want your children (and they are funded per child!) they will find a way. They can take them without a warrant claiming it was an emergency situation. All apprehensions are written off as an emergency basis, as far as I’ve read. Once you are in court for this matter the question is not whether the children should have been taken at all, but what you can now do to prove you are fit to have your children returned.
Instead assuming it won’t happen to you or anyone you know, we need to correct the problem. Nobody oversees CAS. They are not government workers but private citizens, and yet somehow they have infinite power. Some of them are not even registered with the Ontario College of Social Workers, illegally hiding behind the title “Child Protection Worker” instead of “Social Worker.” Most provinces in Canada have Ombudsman oversight of CAS. Not surprisingly, London Ontario children stay in foster care longer than the Ontario average, which is around 2 years. Every year they take more kids into foster care than the number of children returned home.
The system will never be completely reformed as it should be, but the least we can do is make sure they are being properly monitored and investigated. Voting NDP would achieve this, but you can also call your MPP in support of Bill 110. I suffer from anxiety but I’m looking to find my voice and be a stronger advocate.
My goal with this blog is to make people aware that something needs to be done. In addition to that, if I can accurately describe these sightings hopefully someone will recognize the people involved and intervene. If you have a sighting you’d like me to consider posting, you can email it to firstname.lastname@example.org. Maybe the shame of ending up on my blog will make the lesser offenders smarten up and treat their children better… in public, at least. I have little faith that this blog would turn a bad parent into a good one.