Friday, July 28, 2017

-----Death of children in care and activism----------------The Magic of Not Giving a F*** | Sarah Knight | TEDxCoconutGrove

When you read a story about a dead kid in the child welfare system -how do you feel?
I feel pretty crappy.
The first dead kid I read about was Samantha Martin.
Her luminous face lit up the page of the newspaper. I investigated her case and was appalled by the system wide failures in the child welfare system in the care of handicapped (and perhaps all) kids.
I could not believe, could not believe, could not believe that the system was this incompetent, with not enough oversight and such poorly trained workers as evident in this most recent child's death exposed to us.
Most of us will read about this child's death and move on. I will as well. There is no point sitting in the death like at the scene of a road kill is there?
But how many of us will speak and activate ourselves as Velvet Martin has done?
We're too afraid to speak.
Or too busy.
Or too careful.
What if we didn't give a F---?
What if we just said what these child deaths mean to us?
What if we wrote poems, songs and anthems?
What if our feelings and writings filled the world so that the light in each of us was so strong that all the ugliness and cover ups were exposed?
What then?
I think it all begins with the idea of Sarah Knight of "Not Giving a F---".

in order to speak I had to learn to ignore the advice of people I told myself to say and I did just that but the votes were all agai...

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in order to speak
I had to learn
to ignore the advice
of people

I told myself to say
and I did just that
but the votes were all against
these words that I said

I guess in polite society
we don't operate this way
the dirt underneath our feet
and the graves themselves

are left undisturbed
because the powers that be
don't want to be held liable
these are problems I admit

and it is safer
just to shut up
but then the voices that came to me
wouldn't wait for me to become brave

and so I had to shut up the voices
who told me not to be myself
I said what I could
and then I understood

that one woman can't do it all
I waited for others to join me
in this crusade           but I guess
the others aren't foolish like I am

and so they all kept silent
now there is another dead kid
explained to us as part of the package deal 
we get with the government of Alberta

incompetence and lack of abilities combine
to result in dead children in the child welfare system
I guess it is time for me to speak again 
since no one else is yapping about this incompetence 

I put the case before y'all
and I ask you to think about this child
how alone was he in that home
that was no home    and what indeed

were his last hours like for him     in hell?
I ask you all to speak
but perhaps you are all too afraid
or simply indifferent to dead children

if you are afraid
I give you this video to review
simply don't give a damn about the silencing clones
and ten years later you might become as brave as I am

it begins with ignoring everybody
to see the children who are dying
trust yourself to speak like Velvet Martin has spoken
and activate yourself for them

one day your soul might wake
and the electricity course through your veins
so that you too        become a light in the darkness
with that light you change the ignorance and apathy in the system

Remedios Varo
Remedios Varo

The Magic of Not Giving a F*** | Sarah Knight | TEDxCoconutGrove

Published on Apr 12, 2017

Amelia Curran "Hands on a Grain of Sand"

Paula Simons: Fatality inquiry finds 'fundamental failure' by care workers caused death of Kawliga Potts

Published on: July 28, 2017 | Last Updated: July 28, 2017 6:33 PM MDT
In a 2007 file photo, a police officer enters the Patricia Heights home where Kawliga Potts, 3, was beaten by his foster mother, Lily Choy. Potts later died of his injuries. Choy was convicted of manslaughter in 2011.
In a 2007 file photo, a police officer enters the Patricia Heights home where Kawliga Potts, 3, was beaten by his foster mother, Lily Choy. Potts later died of his injuries. Choy was convicted of manslaughter in 2011. ED KAISER / EDMONTON JOURNAL, FILE
“Kawliga Potts’ death was a direct result of the fundamental failure of everyone connected with this child to do their jobs. No one followed the rules and procedures that were in place.”
That’s the blunt conclusion of provincial court Judge Ferne LeReverend in a fatality inquiry report released Friday by Alberta Justice.
Kawliga was a three-year-old First Nations child, beaten to death by his Edmonton foster mother, Lily Choy, a registered nurse and MacEwan nursing instructor, in January 2007. Choy was convicted of manslaughter in 2011, a conviction upheld by the Court of Appeal in 2013. She was sentenced to eight years.
It’s rare to see a judge be so specific, so candid, in her criticism of front-line child welfare workers.
But, as LeReverend makes clear, a shocking combination of incompetence, negligence and basic bureaucratic buck-passing by child-care workers set Choy up to fail, and sent Kawliga to his death.
Choy was a single mother of two young children. She’d spent the last 10 years living in Switzerland. She had fled that country, without telling the fathers of her children, both of whom were fighting her for access. One father had tracked her down in Edmonton and was fighting her for custody here.
Lily Choy walks into the courthouse on Oct. 21, 2011, for sentencing after being found guilty of manslaughter for killing Kawliga Potts, 3. GREG SOUTHAM
Choy didn’t mention that when she applied to be a foster parent. No one checked her references. Instead, she was sent for seven hours of orientation and training. Evaluations of her raised questions about her suitability to be a foster parent. Nonetheless, she was approved to run a foster home with the help of a live-in nanny. But she was only allowed to care for children over the age of five, and she wasn’t allowed to care for any children with special needs. She was only allowed two foster children at a time.
Instead, a social worker, panicking to find a placement, placed Kawliga in Choy’s home, even though he was under five and had complex special needs. The social worker later testified she didn’t know Choy was a single parent and wasn’t licensed to care for a child like Kawliga.
“I was responsible for the child’s file and not the foster home file,” she told the judge.
Less than a month later, three more children, ages 1o to 14, were sent to live with Choy. (She was approved for the overload after her case worker filed papers with inaccuracies — or outright falsehoods — about the home.)
In all, five different, unnamed children’s services case workers were working with the household.
Five different case workers ignored repeated reports that Kawliga was being abused, reports that came, not just from the older foster children, but from the boy’s own doctor. Instead, the older kids were told by their case worker to call the child advocate themselves to complain about the abuse of Kawliga.
Five different workers failed to remove him, although several saw his bruises.
Five different workers failed to shut the home, despite abundant evidence Choy was in crisis, calling her worker 10 times a day, going through four different nannies in two months.
“None of the workers addressed their minds to what needed to be done to save Kawliga Potts,” said the judge.
Despite that, an internal special care review report into Kawliga’s death singled out his social worker for special praise, complimenting her for “exceeding policy expectations” in spending time with him. (Another review panel has been appointed to do another review — a decade after the toddler’s death.)
The judge could have recommended more rigorous screening of prospective foster parents. She could have proposed a better protocol for licensing foster homes. She could have addressed issues of foster home shortages, or worker caseloads.
She didn’t. Indeed, LeReverend, having lambasted the care workers for their many failures, failed in her core duty. She just cut and pasted a few paragraphs from a guest column that ran in the Edmonton Journal this past January.
Tim Richter is president and CEO of the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness. An Alberta judge simply quoted from a guest column he wrote for the Edmonton Journal, rather than make her own fatality inquiry recommendations. SUPPLIED
That column, by Calgary social advocate Tim Richter, was good. But Richter’s essay was a high-level overview of the child-welfare system, broad and general. It didn’t, and couldn’t, address the specific system failures that killed Kawliga. For LeReverend to repurpose Richter’s words, instead of dealing with the actual evidence she heard, seems a cop-out.
But Richter, more charitably, wonders if LeReverend was just expressing her own frustration and resignation by opting not to add yet more recommendations to the hundreds of other recommendations, made by other judges, and ignored, while children go on dying.
“What’s the point of making recommendations if nothing happens?” he said Friday. “There are such obvious things that need to be fixed. But we just keep kicking the can down the road, with more panels, more reviews, more committees.”
Deputy premier Sarah Hoffman issued a written statement Friday to The Canadian Press.
“As Judge LeReverend notes, while the rules and procedures necessary to ensure appropriate foster care were in place, they were not followed. This is unacceptable,” she said via email.
“When our child protection system falls short, we need to ask ourselves why, and take action to prevent tragedies from happening again.”
Sure we do. So why don’t we?


Child killed by Edmonton foster mom was failed by 'everyone' involved in case, judge says

Kawliga Potts, 3, died of brain injury in January 2007

By Michelle Bellefontaine, CBC News Posted: Jul 28, 2017 11:45 AM MT Last Updated: Jul 28, 2017 6:44 PM MT
Foster mother Lily Choy was convicted of manslaughter in 2011. (Children's Aid News)






The death of a three-year-old Indigenous boy at the hands of his foster parent was the "direct result of the fundamental failure" of children's services workers involved with the case, a fatality inquiry judge has ruled.
In a report into the death of Kawliga Potts, Judge Ferne LeReverend offered a scathing indictment of the workers who failed to follow up on clear signs the child was being abused at the hands of his foster mother, Lily Choy.
"Evidence of abuse was present," the judge wrote in a 20-page ruling released Friday. "It was known to five different case workers involved in Lily Choy's home. None of the workers addressed their minds to what needed to be done to save Kawliga.
"Kawliga Potts' death was a direct result of the fundamental failure of everyone connected with this child to do their jobs," LeReverend wrote.
The judge noted that no one involved in the case followed the rules and procedures that were in place. A special case review report completed after the boy's death commended the workers for "exceeding policy expectations for face-to-face contact with him."
Kawliga died of a brain injury in an Edmonton hospital on Jan. 26, 2007, less than two months after the province put him into Choy's care.
Choy was convicted of manslaughter in his death in 2011. After two appeals, her initial sentence of three years was increased to six years and then to eight years.
Children's Services Minister Danielle Larivee was not available for an interview Friday.
Her spokesperson, Aaron Manton, would not say whether the case workers still worked for the government of Alberta or whether they had faced any disciplinary action.
Manton said the government has improved screening for foster parents, and made it mandatory to provide supports for their first three months and to assess them after six months. Manton said foster parents undergo mandatory reassessment if more children are added to the home.
In the fatality inquiry report, the judge laid out numerous ways the workers and system failed the boy. They include:
  • Choy's application to become a foster parent was not properly vetted. Choy failed to disclose her past in Switzerland where she had two children with different fathers. Both men had gone to court to get access to their children. Choy left for Canada without notifying them. One of the men tracked her down, and there was a court application underway in Alberta when her foster application was filled out.
  • According to a foster care committee report in 2006, Choy was only supposed to care for children over the age of five without complex needs. When she called to be upgraded to a "Level 2," the request was granted without additional assessment, even though there were questions about her capability
  • Kawliga was assessed as a Level 2 child, but was not placed with a foster parent who could help him with his needs.
  • The child's grandfather asked that the boy be placed with him. That request was never followed up by the caseworker.
  • Three siblings ages 10 to 14 were placed in Choy's foster home. The judge said that should not have happened, as she did not have the licence for that number of children.
  • A respite foster parent who cared for Kawliga over Christmas 2006 called the boy quiet, shy and obedient. A week later, Choy claimed the boy had become "lunging, self-abusive and unco-ordinated." Said the judge: "No one considered whether Lily Choy contributed to or made up these allegations."
  • Choy blamed the Kawliga's biological father for bruising on the boy. On Jan. 8, 2007, a doctor who examined Kawliga said multiple scars and bruising raised concerns about child abuse, in a letter found at the office the day the boy died. The caseworker denied ever seeing it.
  • Choy reported more bruising and abuse on Jan. 16, 2007. She again blamed a visit by the biological father, even though he hadn't seen Kawliga since late December. When asked about it during the inquiry, the caseworker said she didn't think she was in a position to make a determination on whether the bruises were a sign of abuse. She didn't think she needed to refer the matter to the child advocate or to a doctor.
  • The siblings in the home said Choy was abusing them psychologically. One of the teenagers in the home reported it to her case worker. Instead of reporting it herself, the worker told the teen to write to the child advocate
  • The judge said the case worker directly involved with Kawliga knew of the abuse, neglect and abandonment he had faced, but failed to tell the placement unit responsible for finding him an appropriate foster home.
The judge said the five recommendations in the report were taken from a column, published in the Edmonton Journal in January 2017, by Tim Richter, chair of the 2014 Alberta Child Intervention Implementation Oversight Committee.
Richter's recommendations include disclosing the names of children who die in care and to expand the child advocate's role to help families whose children have been apprehended by the government.
"Reading between the lines of this report, I sense there is frustration from the judge," Richter said in an interview on Friday. "She said recommendations were made and implemented but the deaths of kids in care continued. And another review panel has been appointed to do another complete review.
The legislature passed amendments last spring giving the child advocate responsibility to investigate the death of every child who dies in care.

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