An epidemic of state-sponsored kidnapping feeds a tyrannical system hungry for
revenues. Child Protective Services and Children's Aid Societies systematically and
increasingly often rob children from their parents. Kafkaesque chicaneries that the
targeted families find impossible to comply with are the tools used to keep the revenues
rolling in. Many families don't survive the ordeals that they are being subjected to
by any given CPS or CAS.
From: Robert T McQuaid
Sent: Thursday, October 31, 2002 8:36 PM
This weekend [Nov. 1-2, 2002] I will be addressing the convention of the Ontario
Libertarian Party on the subject of Children's Aid. As part of the event, the Libertarian
Bulletin printed a very much abbreviated version of my article on the subject. If you
think it would be of interest, please forward it to your mailing list.
Robert T McQuaid
Big Sister is Watching
By Robert T McQuaid
In April 2001 [an Ontario mother] took her baby to the doctor. Her questions about the
effect on a six-week old baby of drawing blood for tests got a hostile reaction. In a
follow-up call from the doctor, she asked the doctor to leave her alone. This exchange
resulted in her and her husband losing three of their children for nearly a year.
In a case in Dufferin County (in most cases, real names cannot be used), a family took a
child with pneumonia to the hospital. Routine x-rays revealed a broken arm that had healed
without treatment, provoking immediate Children's Aid intervention. Later reexamination
showed the bone had never been broken, but Children's Aid would not leave the family
alone. A year later the family fled the jurisdiction in a desperate effort to save
themselves from Children's Aid.
In a high-profile case reported by all the Canadian media Children's Aid in Aylmer Ontario
seized the children from a family that proudly admitted to spanking their children with
objects. A few days later when CAS questioned another family from the same church, the
Church of God, all the mothers and children in the church, over a hundred people, fled
Why does Children's Aid snatch children in such a trigger-happy manner? And how do they
get such power?
Every year the Ontario legislature, in common with many other jurisdictions throughout
the western world, appropriates money for the protection of children. Some reasons for
their generosity are:
Legislators may have the same naive view as others not involved with
social services, that appropriating money for the protection of children does what it
The social services industry that lives on the appropriations is well
aware that it exists only on account of political beneficence. Consequently, they are
inclined to political activity and lobbying to get the appropriations increased. Parents
who believe children are theirs by natural right see no need to lobby.
The social service bureaucracy can threaten elected officers. This is
the most subtle, and invisible influence, absent even from some of the scholarly works on
the subject. Should a cabinet officer decline to provide funding or support legislation
desired by the social services industry, they threaten to issue a press release branding
the officer as a defender of child abusers (or wife batterers or deadbeat dads). Normally,
a politician's career cannot survive such an attack.
In child protection, the funded agencies identify children in need of protection, take
them into what they euphemistically call `care', and fight any legal battles necessary to
sever their connection with their parents. The children may be adopted, or kept in foster
care indefinitely. The largest single item of expense is usually foster care.
Most of the details of the operation of child protection agencies are closely guarded
secrets. For this paragraph I have to rely on an analysis by Doug Quirmbach of agencies in
the USA, likely similar to Ontario. At the agency level, the administrators are faced with
an appropriation providing a per diem rate for foster care. The rate paid to the agency
exceeds what the agency pays to the foster parents, thereby covering overhead. The
reimbursement rate also depends on the special needs of the child, that is, a child with a
disability, such as mental retardation or deafness, gets a higher rate than a normal
child. Consequently, the agency profits more from placing a special needs child than a
normal one. One child may even have two evaluations. An evaluation at a low level of need
justifies a low per diem payment to foster parents; another at a high level of need
justifies a high per diem rate from the appropriation. Once a foster care placement of
this kind has been made, it is a continuing source of revenue for the agency, making them
unwilling to have the child adopted or returned to his parents. In Ontario, foster care
rates start at $25 per day for the family, reimbursement rates for the agency for a
special needs child may go as high as $100 per day.
For a person who spends appropriated funds, the worst possible sin is failure to spend all
of the money available within the allotted time. To get the funds appropriated for child
protection, the agencies must place the requisite number of children in foster care.
Legislative generosity has placed children in foster care at levels far in excess of need.
Child protectors use terminology extending that of George Orwell. Kidnapping a child is
'apprehension', the plaintiff is the 'applicant', the accused family is the 'respondent',
the institutions of forcible confinement are called 'care', a contractor who houses a
child for money is a 'foster parent', parents and foster parents alike are 'caregivers',
permanent legal separation between parent and child is 'crown wardship'.
In Ontario the agency that does the child protection work is called the Children's Aid
Society, so I will call them CAS from here on. A large part of the story comes from my
interviews with other parents in Dufferin County Ontario, where I have been organizing
opposition since my own son was snatched in 1999 at the age of three years.
What does CAS do when they have to get so many kids into foster care? They cast their net
far and wide for tips. The laws of Ontario require anyone in a child care profession, such
as teachers, doctors and daycare workers, to report any incident that may be construed as
child-abuse. A few cases of non-reporting have been criminally prosecuted, and made known
to the child care professions. The February 20, 2001 minutes of Dufferin CAS show their
efforts to expand the net:
Kim Evans, Program Manager of Intake and After Hours, attended meetings re: guidelines
that police departments are to follow to report to CAS. These guidelines will result in a
significant increase in calls to CAS, i.e. if there are any children present upon
investigating a domestic situation, the police are to call CAS; if a child is not in an
approved restraining system (car seat), the police will contact CAS, if police go into a
house and don't see appropriate fire detectors they must report to CAS. This means more
investigations and follow-ups.
And anyone with a grudge may use a phone call to sic CAS on a personal enemy. This system
gives CAS a rich stream of leads while making parents wary of using professional services,
or even public schools, for their children.
Once tipped off, social workers routinely enter homes of parents, approaching with smiles.
If smiles won't get them into a home, they go through the inconvenience of getting a
warrant and make an armed entry under police escort. When the children are of school age,
they usually take the short-cut of picking them up at school and placing them in foster
care. Parents only find out when they frantically call police after the children fail to
come home. Social workers can then enter the home under the pretense of evaluation for
To get a child into long-term foster care, it is necessary to get a court order. This is
usually a formality since CAS targets families that cannot afford legal representation.
Even for those who do hire counsel, the process is a sham. There is no testimony, no
cross-examination, no discovery, no jury, no rules of evidence. The material comes on
competing affidavits, and no one can be asked a question that he is required to answer.
There is no record made of the proceedings in the courtroom. Formally, the rules do
provide for all of these things, but in practice the lawyers abridge the process so that
they do not occur. In over a hundred families interviewed, I have found only one that had
a chance to testify, and they wound up in bankruptcy and lost their children anyway. Here
are some of the standard techniques:
Social workers misrepresent themselves as friends of the family. Parents
unaccustomed to hostility from agents of the crown often make the mistake of cooperating
with social workers until it is too late.
Broken promises. Common promises are to leave the family alone in
exchange for cooperation in the investigation, then the information gathered becomes the
legal basis for apprehension.
Twisting statements. In an American case, a father told the social
worker that he gave his daughter a shower. This got to court as: "The father admitted
to holding his daughter's head under water."
Faeces in the home. Sounds terrible. To find faeces in a home, first
check the diaper change room. For older children, the catbox will reveal the dreaded
Assessments. Social workers fill out risk assessment forms on the
family, using them to justify foster care for children when the assessments pass a
threshold. A statistical analysis of several filled-out assessments shows proof of bias.
Home renovations. If any part of a home is under renovation CAS will
claim it is a safety hazard.
Coaching young children. A three-year-old Dufferin girl was coached
(through methods not recorded), then induced to say on video-tape that her mother hit her
with a frying pan. Mother later found that the girl did not know what a frying pan was.
In almost all cases social workers will threaten to remove children
unless the parents immediately take some action, often as trivial as cleaning the fridge.
Aside from power-tripping, I have not found any purpose to these threats.
Examinations. CAS has a staff of professionals they can depend on to
give reports unfavorable to parents. Once children are in custody, CAS takes them to a pediatrician, therapist, psychiatrist or social workers for reports. If there was little
case to begin with, there will be a large stack of documents against the parents within a
As a last resort, CAS looks for bad housekeeping. Socks on the floor,
dirty dishes piled in the kitchen, laundry not stacked neatly.
Opposite accusations. If you examine enough cases you will eventually
find instances such as this: One family lost its children for having locks on the interior
doors, the same CAS intervened in another family for not having locks on the interior
If you don't have kids, or have not had one of your children kidnapped, you don't know
what this stage is like. Seizure of children at the hands of the crown produces a distress
unlike any other. I encountered the writing of a tragic mother who experienced both the
seizure of a child, and the death of a child. The seizure was the far worse experience.
Marriages often survive a child death, but rarely survive child seizure. The desperation
of parents allows for unbounded abuse by social workers from that point on.
A natural question is whether this level of intervention achieves a beneficial purpose. I
spent 9 and a half years in foster homes and boarding schools myself, and I know what they
are really like. Any parent who is not homicidal is better than many foster parents. In
the dozens of interviews I have conducted with parents, I found only one where the child
was better off in the custody of CAS. In my experience, the number of children in care
exceeds need by a factor of ten everywhere, and fifty in some jurisdictions, even more in
some hot-spots. Janet M Frederick reports that in 1996
half the children in Clare County Michigan were
removed and placed in foster care.
As Dr Frankenstein assembled body parts from several people to create one monster,
Children's Aid is partly a government agency, partly private. Each Children's Aid is
organized under the Corporations Act as a not-for-profit charity. The funding comes from
the Province of Ontario. The Child and Family Services Act gives extensive powers to one
officer of CAS, called the local director, or executive director. This Frankenstein
structure sidesteps traditional protections from the police. An example is the right to
remain silent. In police work, silence cannot be held against the accused, but CAS
stigmatizes parents who remain silent. Another is freedom of information. As a
non-government body, they reject all calls for disclosure, not only to parents, but even
to graduates of foster care.
John Dunn, age 31, grew up in Ontario foster care and the only record of his childhood
is the notes kept by social workers, yet they will not let him view the documents. Still
another abrogated right is protection against search and seizure. In the case of
homeschooling parents Jim and Mary Ann Stumbo of Kings Mountain, the North Carolina Court
of Appeals ruled that the family had no constitutional protection against unreasonable
search and seizure by Child Protective Services because child protectors are not state
A network of laws and policies keeps the operation of social services secret. A simple
tool is the law making it an offense to disclose the name of a child involved in a child
protection case. This is construed broadly to apply to any name from which the child's
name could be derived, such as the parent's name. In practice, the parents rarely object
to publication of their names, most objections come from CAS. Parents who wish to get
relief by publicizing their plight are subject to a banning order similar to South Africa
under apartheid. In a case in which I put a family's story on the internet, CAS threatened
not me, but the mother, with jail if it stayed there. It was removed.
The social service industry feeds the press with favorable stories. Here are some of
the ones you may have encountered:
- Social workers are overworked. Of course, when a small agency attempts to keep tabs
on nearly every family in its jurisdiction, it is overworked. They make no attempt to
confine their efforts to cases where they are truly needed.
The greatest danger to women is from their husbands.
Actually, a marriage is the safest institution for a woman to live in.
Parents are the greatest danger to children.
A similar reversal of reality. Anyone with common sense knows knows the
terrible damage to a child (or even an animal) caused by removing him from his parents.
A death occurred in a family already known to social services. "If
we only had more money and power," say the agencies, "we could prevent these tragedies."
In various jurisdictions this has produced what Richard Wexler calls a foster
care panic. New policies cause social services to take far more children than ever into
custody, but this only elevates abuse. What about the opposite situation, where a baby is
harmed while in custody of CAS? Ontario held an inquest into the case of Jordan Heikamp,
who starved to death in CAS custody. Remarkably, even in this case, a coroners jury
returned 44 recommendations all suggesting more money and power for CAS.
Outrages and scandals
In Orangeville, courts handle only one kind of case on any day of the week. On criminal
and civil court days, the courthouse is nearly empty. On family court days, the parking
lot is full, requiring a two block walk from the nearest space. The corridors are packed
with people, and lawyers mill around incessantly making deals. Family court has become a
principal means of state control over the lives of the people.
I have personally spoken to four women who took shelter in the local women's shelter,
Family Transition Place, and then lost their children to foster care. Reports from
elsewhere suggest this is a widespread practice, and in New York City it is the subject of
a class-action lawsuit, Nicholson v Scopetta.
One of the most extreme developments in social services is the shotgun divorce: a divorce
imposed against the will of both husband and wife. A common technique is to apprehend
children and tell one parent, usually the mother, that a divorce is required before she
can see her children again.
Another starting point is a domestic disturbance call. In these cases, police are
encouraged, and in some jurisdictions required, to make an arrest, no matter what the
circumstances. Once one parent, usually the father, is in jail, he is required to sign a
document forbidding contact with his own family. Children's Aid will then intervene
further, ensuring that the marriage is destroyed.
In October 2001 Philadelphia social worker Brandon Ware entered the home of a 28-year-old
single mother and threatened to remove her children unless she submitted to sexual
intercourse with him. He got what he wanted.
In 1999 Massachusetts DSS removed two children, Kyle and Damien, from their mother Diana
Ross. In June 2001 Kyle Ross was killed by the foster family's Rottweiler. DSS shamelessly
took her next child, Aaron, born two months later, into their custody.
Florida DCF placed 5-year-old Rilya Wilson in the care of her grandmother. Late in 2000 or
early 2001 according to the grandmother, a social worker from DCF took the child back. For
a year after that, her caseworker regularly filed false reports affirming that she had
visited the child. In May 2002 DCF finally realized the child was missing, and she has not
been found. This case opened up a flood of stories in the Florida press about DCF, and
governor Jeb Bush fired the head of the agency Kathleen Kearney (nicknamed the Terminator,
for her habit of terminating parental rights while serving as a judge), replacing her with
Jerry Regier, an advocate of family rights.
An examination of the law and the actions of social workers convinced me
quickly that there was no remedy through the courts, only through political action.
Membership in CAS is open to any adult in the jurisdiction upon payment of a nominal fee.
I organized a membership drive and ran candidates opposed to the incumbents. The result
two years later was the adoption of a new bylaw restricting candidates for director to
those nominated by the nominating committee, composed of incumbent directors.
Elections are now like those in the Soviet Union under communism, with only approved names
on the ballot. A website at http://freespeech.org/herod
has a record of this effort. [See following insert. WHS]
from "...bylaw 5 as approved by the board of directors, the Minister of
Community, Family and Children's Services and the Dufferin Children's Aid membership,
fulfilling all of the legal requirements for adoption." (Full Text):
||Nomination - Any person or
Member may make a recommendation for a candidate for Director to the Nominating Committee.
Each candidate for Director shall be nominated by the Nominating Committee at least thirty
(30) days prior to the meeting at which directors are to be elected. No individual shall
be considered a candidate for director until he consents in writing to his nomination.
||General - There shall be a
Nominating Committee and such other permanent and ad hoc committees as the Board may from
time to time by By-Law or resolution establish, having such powers and duties as the Board
may determine. Except as otherwise provided in this By-Law,
- the Chairperson of each committee must be a Director and appointed by the Board;
- other members of the committee may, but need not be Directors;
- members of the committee shall be appointed by the Chairperson of the committee and
approved by the Board.
- each committee shall keep records, shall report to the Board at regular intervals and at
any time upon request and shall be responsible to the Board; and
- each committee shall have the power to appoint one (1) or more subcommittees.
In addition to Dufferin, there are three other opposition groups dealing
with a specific CAS, in Halton, Durham and St Thomas/Elgin. These may be the four worst
agencies in Ontario. So far, there is no province-wide opposition group.
Disrespect for CAS is widespread in the child care industry. I have encountered many
people who freely acknowledge that it is a harmful institution, yet none will take action
to oppose it, since CAS is in a position to destroy the career of any child care
professional who raises his voice in opposition. The situation brings to mind a line by
Martin Luther King: History will not remember what bad people do, but what good people
fail to do.
© 2002, Robert T McQuaid
Robert T. McQuaid is a member of VOCA Dufferin,
Notes by F4L:
The following contains links to related information in the newsletter Common Sense
& Domestic Violence, (Fathers for Life, #3, 1998 01 30)
The White Rose
Thoughts are Free