The troubled child and the vindictive state

Is it possible nanny-state community services officials have decided to punish the grandparents of a boy who dared question their decision to send him out of province for treatment by dumping him back in their laps with minimal supports, setting them—and him—up for I-told-you-so failure?

That seems the most rational conclusion after reading the vague page-and-a-half “Service Plan” officials handed the boy’s family earlier this month.


Quick rewind. Two years ago, the grandparents—frustrated by their inability to cope with the then-13-year-old’s running and self-destructive behaviours—asked community services for help. Officials grabbed guardianship of the boy and shipped him to Bayfield, a residential treatment centre in Ontario.

The working-class family went to court—spending more than $20,000 on legal fees and developing an alternative, community-based care plan—to convince the province to treat him in Nova Scotia instead. They failed.

But the ongoing publicity eventually convinced Bayfield it wanted nothing more to do with the boy. In August, it shipped him back to community services, which will be in court today to officially present its new plan of care—and unofficially wash its hands of him.

Before we examine the skimpiness of the department’s proposed “plan,” consider what the province itself previously claimed. The boy has been diagnosed with such a witches’ brew of syndromes and disorders—attention deficit hyperactivity, alcohol-related neural development, impulse control, learning disabilities—they said he needed long-term care in a structured, restricted facility.

During his 14 months at Bayfield, his grandparents claim the boy was treated with powerful drugs—whopping doses of Seroquel XR, an antipsychotic medication, among others—rarely attended school classes and was physically “restrained” on at least 10 occasions. Bayfield officials controlled—occasionally—cut off—contact with the grandparents community services wants to send him back to.

They now want to hand him back to his family, enroll him in a public high school for which he is unprepared and ill-equipped and, well… let’s see what happens. They’re “offering” the ill-defined assistance of a school liaison/tutor, a family therapist and an alternative youth worker, but the “performance indicators” for their efforts are so vague as to be meaningless.

Can you say vindictive?



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