For those of you who follow this blog on a regular basis (and I thank you) you will recall I did a series of posts on problems in the Alberta Department of Children and Youth Services last summer. I centered the series on a Contempt of Court finding against a Director level official in department over a foster child and the impact and implications for the child. I am writing this post as an update on the case but first let me put you back in context.
I have to be careful in writing about the case to ensure the parties are not identified due to privacy concerns for the child at the centre of the case. I also wrote the series about the Foster Mother who was a champion for the child to stay with her. She took court action to that end and won in spite of the contrary and rejected recommendations of the government.
The attitude and actions of those in control of these matters in the Department of Children and Youth Services were criticized by the Court of Appeal. The former Minister launched an external review of how these matters were handled and I was interviewed by the external reviewers as part of their work. One of the things I said to the review committee was I believed there may a destructive culture in the senior levels of the department if this case was an example that could be generalized.
My impression was garnered from reading the Court files, background documents, as well as considering the actions of senior management involved in this case and the attitudes expressed in their communications from the department. My sense was that senior management was more interested in protecting the Minister from political ramifications than it was in serving its duty to represent the best interest of children in care. I pointed this impression out to the review committee and asked them to be aware of this possibility in their work and in their reporting.
Now for the update!
I have just been advised by the Foster Mother there is good news. The good news is her application to the Courts for Guardianship of the child was granted. The Adoption petition of the others was denied, in fact the other party’s request for continuing contact with the child was also denied. In addition the Foster Mother was awarded all her costs in the matter to be paid by the Director of Child, Youth and Family Enhancement. The Foster Mother was granted a similar order by the Court of Appeal to have all her costs paid in the original action. That means she not only won on the merits based on the law, the award of total costs is a major victory on the equity of the situation.
UPDATE AND CORRECTION MARCH 5, 2010:
THIS BLOG POST HAS BEEN EDITED TO CORRECT AN APPARENT ERROR OF FACT THAT THE GOVERNMENT OF ALBERTA INTENDED TO APPEAL THE RECENT SUCCESSFUL GUARDIANSHIP ORDER GRANTED TO THE FOSTER MOTHER OF THIS CHILD. I HAVE BEEN INFORMED BY THE DEPARTMETN YTHAT THIS IS NOT THE CASE. I WISH TO APOLOGIZE TO THE MINISTRY OF CHILDREN AND YOUTH SERVICES AND THE FOSTER MOTHER TOO IF I MISUNDERSTOOD THE FACTS AROUND AN INTENTION OF THE GOVERNMENT TO APPEAL THIS RECENT COURT DECISION.