Best interests of the child (care system)


Remember that Cole Harbour kid who had so many complex emotional issues and acronym-saturated syndromes the province’s community services department decided the only possible solution was to put him in a residential care facility where he could be helped 24 hours a day on a long-term, continuing basis?

And remember there wasn’t such an institution in Nova Scotia. So two years ago community services shipped him off to Bayfield in Ontario.

Recall that his grandparents—who’d raised him since he was a toddler and initially asked community services for help—objected to sending him so far from home. They—horrors—complained to the press and even went to court to force the government to bring him back.

They lost that battle but… well, one bit of sour publicity led to another. There were questions about the efficacy of Bayfield’s treatment approach, and allegations the boy may have been abused. This summer Bayfield washed its hands of the boy and shipped him back to Nova Scotia.

In late September, community services dumped him back on his grandparents with nothing more than a skimpy, page-and-a-half “Service Plan”— part-time/sometime help from a school liaison/tutor, family therapist and alternative youth worker—and good riddance.

But remember. It was community services that initially claimed he had so many issues and syndromes he needed 24 hour continuing care and supervision.

Remember, too, that this boy is still only 15!

It’s difficult not to see his treatment as vindictive payback by miffed community services officials who don’t like having their authority questioned.

Today, the grandparents report the boy’s behaviour is no better and, arguably, worse now than when community services took him two years ago. They’re going back to court to force the department to implement an alternative, community-based, intensive care program developed by Moncton psychologist Dr. Charles Emmyrs and other professionals. But the earliest family court date they can get is December 22nd.

Community Services Minister Denise Peterson-Rafuse should be embarrassed. And the opposition should be demanding answers—not to mention a public inquiry into whatever happened to what is supposed to be the bedrock of our child welfare legislation: “the best interests of the child.”

  1. Community Service workers and bureaucrts do not comprehend the concept of “the best interest of the child”. Their focus is on gahering information to be used as evidence in the court against the parents.The child is left to run through the system with many ending up with a lifetime of criminal justice involvement. It is time for the general public to be aware that this system is failing children and their families.Children are victimized by the very system put in place to help them. Taking children for no good reason and failing to help those children who need services is criminal.The results of this policy was made clear during the Nunn Commission when it was revealed that Archie Billard got no effective services from the time he was a young boy when child protection first became involved.Allowing this system to continue with the support of five government departments (community services, justice,education,finance and health) is a blatent disregard for the citizems of Nova Scotia and their children.Denise Peterson- Rafuse as well as Darrell Dexter should support the call for a public inquiry into the damaging child protection system that is now run under their watch.


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