One thought on “Norman Fost speaking about futile care and child abuse prevention targeting “high risk parents”

  1. Family-Centred Care Practice, is a premise near and dear to my heart. Individuals succinctly identify themes within the Child & Youth System that require revamping and I wish to expand on points. There is a mindset that automatically presumes that children under direction of Ministry have been removed from their natural family for sinister reasons, however, that is a falsehood which I would like to clarify: Based upon statistical data from Alberta Association for Community Living (AACL) who conducted a Study from child welfare files, “70% of the approximately 12,000 children in care had special needs.”

    My family, unknowingly would become a statistic upon birth of our child, a much-wanted, beloved little girl. Our daughter was born with a rare genetic condition from which no other individual in the Province was known to exist. Informed she would likely never walk, talk, see, nor even know that we were her family, the hospital benignly sought direction for our grieving family through social services. Instead of offering support, we were informed that “as the natural family”, the government would not offer help to our child whose anticipated medical and therapeutic needs were extensive. We were directed to choose an out of home medical foster placement and surrender guardianship. Thus, began our strife as we entered into an arrangement as “1 of 4 families in the Province” existing under a Permanent Guardianship Agreement. Due to unique circumstances in the absence of intervention, we were able to secure custody, however, suspending the out of home arrangement was a process which took years of advocacy to achieve.

    While busy researching to teach skills to our child, it was she who taught me my niche in the world: I have been involved in Family-Centred Care Practice within a hospital for a number of years and work in the community with children who have a variety of medical and developmental challenges. Since coming forward with my family’s story, I am contacted on a regular basis by others who face a variety of dire circumstances: Families of children with disabilities across Canada who are still instructed to relinquish guardianship in order to access help. Indifference towards basic human rights continues to transpire amongst older youth and adults too: Families of individuals with severe behavioural difficulties are directed to incarcerate their loved one in effort to get immediate attention!

    It is my daughter’s legacy to educate that not all families receiving government assistance have a negative past. On the contrary, a number of settings contribute to need beyond abusive situations. Nativity is problematic within professional humanities too: Caseworkers, over-burdened and dealing with true cases of intervention are assigned to loving families with issues of disability, poverty, single-parenting, diverse cultures and religions. There is no comparison, yet circumstances fall under the same umbrella and professionals can forget their role is to treat people with respect and compassion. Alienation affects mothers, fathers and the child, but siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles and God-parents need also be considered. There remain some who are sceptical, “Hmmm, surely you must have done (that illusive, insidious) ‘something’ to warrant intervention?” Due to ignorance, situations of inequity plague good individuals and allow archaic, unconstitutional treatment to continue to exist.

    Let me assure, I am not opposed to foster placements; I have positive relations with families who care for children with love and devotion. It is not a matter of singling out a single type of problematic family constellation, but instead, maintaining focus on children where oversight exists. While statistically more cost-effective to support natural homes, efforts to do so are not embraced. The basic solution is to honour natural, adoptive and kinship homes with equal access to support. It is interesting and wildly sad that inequities need be pointed out: While our daughter purportedly could not be supported in home due to the costs of medical services, Child & Youth Services later approached my family to provide care to 2 little children with disabilities. Quality care is spare so we opened our home and hearts until reunification with family could occur. Our experiences have truly been learning opportunities which enable me to identify deficits in the system, but more important, how to avert tragic circumstances in the future.

    Legislation in Alberta was amended and I endeavour to see that my child’s legacy becomes National standard:


    “The Family Support for Children with Disabilities Program to have separate legislation from that of child protection services.”

    In Celebration of the Importance of Life & Loving Memory of:
    Samantha Lauren Martin, June 4, 1993 – December 3, 2006.


    Velvet Martin

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