Meet OACAS'S New CEO Nicole Bonnie

Meet OACAS'S New CEO Nicole Bonnie
Posted on November 9, 2019 | Derek Flegg | Written on November 9, 2019
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Nearly half of children in Crown care are medicated.
 
Psychotropic drugs are being prescribed to nearly half the Crown wards in a sample of Ontario children's aid societies, kindling fears that the agencies are overusing medication with the province's most vulnerable children.
 
Ontario researchers have found that not only were psychotropic drugs prescribed to a clear majority of the current and former wards interviewed, but most were diagnosed with mental-health disorders by a family doctor, never visited a child psychiatrist or another doctor for a second opinion, and doubted the accuracy of their diagnosis.
 
A Toronto Star investigation has found Ontario’s most vulnerable children in the care of an unaccountable and non-transparent protection system. It keeps them in the shadows, far beyond what is needed to protect their identities.
 
“When people are invisible, bad things happen,” says Irwin Elman, Ontario’s now former and last advocate for children and youth with the closure of the Office.
 
A disturbing number, the network's research director, Yolanda Lambe, added, have traded the child-welfare system for a life on the street.
 
"A lot of people are using drugs now," she said. "There's a lot of homeless young people who have been medicated quite heavily."
 
In Ontario the CAS has turned themselves into a multi-billion dollar private corporation using any excuse to compel parents into submitting to fake drug testing to justify removing children or keeping files open keeping that government funding flowing.
 
All the while they've taking the thousands of children to specific CAS approved doctors who are all to happy to prescribe medication based on the workers assessments of the child's condition.. That's why there are no follow ups with qualified medical and psychiatric doctors and not because the CAS lack the funding, staff or attention span to care properly for the children.
 
Marti McKay is a Toronto child psychologist was hired by a CAS to assess the grandparents' capacity as guardians only to discover a child so chemically altered that his real character was clouded by the side effects of adult doses of drugs.
 
"There are lots of other kids like that," said Dr. McKay, one of the experts on the government panel. "If you look at the group homes, it's close to 100 per cent of the kids who are on not just one drug, but on drug cocktails with multiple diagnoses.
"There are too many kids being diagnosed with ... a whole range of disorders that are way out of proportion to the normal population. ... It's just not reasonable to think the children in care would have such overrepresentation in these rather obscure disorders."
 
According to documents obtained by The Globe and Mail under Ontario's Freedom of Information Act, 47 per cent of the Crown wards - children in permanent CAS care - at five randomly picked agencies were prescribed psychotropics last year to treat depression, attention deficit disorder, anxiety and other mental-health problems. And, the wards are diagnosed and medicated far more often than are children in the general population.
 
 
"Use of 'behaviour-altering' drugs widespread in foster, group homes."
 
Almost half of children and youth in foster and group home care aged 5 to 17 — 48.6 per cent — are on drugs, such as Ritalin, tranquilizers and anticonvulsants, according to a yearly survey conducted for the provincial government and the Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies (OACAS). At ages 16 and 17, fully 57 per cent are on these medications.
 
In group homes, the figure is even higher — an average of 64 per cent of children and youth are taking behaviour-altering drugs. For 10- to 15-year-olds, the number is a staggering 74 per cent.
 
 
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What’s worse is that the number of children prescribed dangerous drugs is on the rise. Doctors seem to prescribe medication without being concerned with the side-effects.
 
Worldwide, 17 million children, some as young as five years old, are given a variety of different prescription drugs, including psychiatric drugs that are dangerous enough that regulatory agencies in Europe, Australia, and the US have issued warnings on the side effects that include suicidal thoughts and aggressive behavior.
 
According to Fight For Kids, an organization that “educates parents worldwide on the facts about today’s widespread practice of labeling children mentally ill and drugging them with heavy, mind-altering, psychiatric drugs,” says over 10 million children in the US are prescribed addictive stimulants, antidepressants and other psychotropic (mind-altering) drugs for alleged educational and behavioral problems.
 
In fact, according to Foundation for a Drug-Free World, every day, 2,500 youth (12 to 17) will abuse a prescription pain reliever for the first time (4). Even more frightening, prescription medications like depressants, opioids and antidepressants cause more overdose deaths (45 percent) than illicit drugs like cocaine, heroin, methamphetamines and amphetamines (39 percent) combined. Worldwide, prescription drugs are the 4th leading cause of death.
 
 
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Standards of Care for the Administration of Psychotropic Medications to Children and Youth Living in Licensed Residential Settings.
 
Summary of Recommendations of the Ontario Expert Panel February 2009.
 
 
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2009: Ninety children known to Ontario's child welfare system died in 2007, according to the latest report from the chief coroner's office – a number the province's new child advocate says is shocking and should trouble us all.
 
 
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Between 2008/2012 natural causes was listed as the least likely way for a child in care to die at 7% of the total deaths reviewed while "undetermined cause" was listed as the leading cause of death of children in Ontario's child protection system at only 43% of the total deaths reviewed.
 
92 children equals 43% of the deaths reviewed by the PDRC. 92 mystery deaths and like every other year no further action was taken to determine the cause...
 
 
 
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Separating kids from parents a 'textbook strategy' of domestic abuse, experts say — and causes irreversible, lifelong damage even when there is no other choice.
 
“Being separated from parents or having inconsistent living conditions for long periods of time can create changes in thoughts and behavior patterns, and an increase in challenging behavior and stress-related physical symptoms,” such as sleep difficulty, nightmares, flashbacks, crying, and yelling says Amy van Schagen - California State University.
 
The Science Is Unequivocal: Separating Families Is Harmful to Children Even When There Is No Other Choice.
 
In news stories and opinion pieces, psychological scientists are sharing evidence-based insight from decades of research demonstrating the harmful effects of separating parents and children.
 
In an op-ed in USA Today, Roberta Michnick Golinkoff (University of Delaware), Mary Dozier (University of Delaware), and Kathy Hirsh-Pasek (Temple University) write:
 
“Years of research are clear: Children need their parents to feel secure in the world, to explore and learn, and to grow strong emotionally.”
 
In a Washington Post op-ed, James Coan (University of Virginia) says:
 
“As a clinical psychologist and neuroscientist at the University of Virginia, I study how the brain transforms social connection into better mental and physical health. My research suggests that maintaining close ties to trusted loved ones is a vital buffer against the external stressors we all face. But not being an expert on how this affects children, I recently invited five internationally recognized developmental scientists to chat with me about the matter on a science podcast I host. As we discussed the border policy’s effect on the children ensnared by it, even I was surprised to learn just how damaging it is likely to be.”
 
Mia Smith-Bynum (University of Maryland) is quoted in The Cut:
 
“The science leads to the conclusion that the deprivation of caregiving produces a form of extreme suffering in children. Being separated from a parent isn’t just a trauma — it breaks the relationship that helps children cope with other traumas.
 
Forceful separation is particularly damaging, explains clinical psychologist Mia Smith-Bynum, a professor of family science at the University of Maryland, when parents feel there’s nothing in their power that can be done to get their child back.
 
For all the dislocation, strangeness and pain of being separated forcibly from parents, many children can and do recover, said Mary Dozier, a professor of child development at the University of Delaware. “Not all of them — some kids never recover,” Dr. Dozier said. “But I’ve been amazed at how well kids can do after institutionalization if they’re able to have responsive and nurturing care afterward.”
 
The effects of that harm may evolve over time, says Antonio Puente, a professor of psychology at the University of North Carolina, Wilmington who specializes in cultural neuropsychology. What may begin as acute emotional distress could reemerge later in life as PTSD, behavioral issues and other signs of lasting neuropsychological damage, he says.
 
“A parent is really in many ways an extension of the child’s biology as that child is developing,” Tottenham said. “That adult who’s routinely been there provides this enormous stress-buffering effect on a child’s brain at a time when we haven’t yet developed that for ourselves. They’re really one organism, in a way.” When the reliable buffering and guidance of a parent is suddenly withdrawn, the riot of learning that molds and shapes the brain can be short-circuited, she said.
 
In a story from the BBC, Jack Shonkoff (Harvard University) discusses evidence related to long-term impacts:
 
Jack P Shonkoff, director of the Harvard University Center on the Developing Child, says it is incorrect to assume that some of the youngest children removed from their parents’ care will be too young to remember and therefore relatively unharmed. “When that stress system stays activated for a significant period of time, it can have a wear and tear effect biologically.
 
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Does that mean someone was responsible for all the deaths in care up to now or just from now on?
 
Nicole Bonnie
 
New Leadership at the Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies. The Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies (OACAS) is pleased to announce Nicole Bonnie has started in her role as Chief Executive Officer.Jan 28, 2019.
 
OACAS and Children’s Aid Societies Welcome the Chief Coroner’s Expert Panel Report.
 
OACAS and Children’s Aid Societies welcome the Chief Coroner’s Expert Panel Report, “Safe With Intervention: Report of the Expert Panel on the Deaths of Children and Youth in Residential Placements.” We are deeply saddened by the deaths of these young people in residential care. Many parts of the residential services and child protection system failed them and their deaths are unacceptable. Systemic change is needed desperately in order to prevent future tragedies.
 
Although Children’s Aid Societies have done much good work over the past two years on this issue, we must provide a more co-ordinated approach to the work, with a focus on mutual care and joint responsibility. We echo Minister of Children, Community and Social Services, Lisa MacLeod’s, comments that this is a shared responsibility—CASs, government, and group homes—and that we need to do more make sure that children are safe and cared for. We are encouraged by the scope of the panel’s recommendations. The changes needed cannot be addressed by one sector or one ministry alone.
 
The Residential Services Working Group, with joint leadership between the Association of Native Child and Family Service Agencies of Ontario (ANCFSAO), Children’s Aid Societies, and OACAS, has been working for the past year on making significant changes to change how agencies use residential services. This includes dramatically increasing the amount of information sharing going on between agencies about the group homes and foster homes they use. Through our child welfare Shared Services Program, standardized assessments and a common database for residential placements are in the works, so that agencies can make better informed decisions about safe placements for youth.
 
This good work will continue. We recognize the need to break down barriers and work collaboratively with all our stakeholders and partners to realize true systemic change. We will continue to act with urgency on this issue, as the most vulnerable children and youth in our care continue to be at risk in some residential placements. We all have a part to play in keeping children and youth safe.
 
 
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Dear Dr. Huyer,
 
We thank you for the opportunity to participate in this very important initiative to avoid another messy and embarrassing public coroner's inquest...
 
 
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Safe and Caring Places for Children and Youth: Ontario’s Blueprint for Building a New System of Licensed Residential Services, July 2017.
 
 
In a rare legal case, Toronto teen gets green light to sue children’s aid for negligence
 
By Sandro Contenta Feature Writer Fri., Aug. 23, 2019.
 
A 19-year-old girl’s allegations against the Catholic Children’s Aid Society of Toronto have not yet been tested in court, but a lawsuit has been allowed to proceed.
CANADA
 
A Superior Court judge has ruled that a Toronto teenager can proceed with a $2 million lawsuit against the Catholic Children’s Aid Society of Toronto for allegedly conducting a negligent investigation and placing her in an abusive home.
 
The lawsuit, which claims the society participated in filing “false affidavits” to take the girl into its custody, is a rare example of a child taken into care claiming damages. The 19-year-old teen was apprehended when she was 11.
 
 
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Teen ‘sexual cult’ in Ontario foster home known to Children’s Aid Society, victim says
 
BY ALEXANDRA MAZUR AND KRAIG KRAUSE GLOBAL NEWS
Posted June 12, 2019.
 
The 15-year-old girl was seeking refuge when she came to Janet and Joe Holm’s house in the mid-2000s. The couple lived in a big white farmhouse on a sprawling property just minutes outside Bloomfield, Ont., a village in Prince Edward County dotted with well-manicured homes from the 1800s.
 
M.K. had been previously sexually abused when she arrived at the Holms’ as a foster child, hoping to find a safe, stable home. Instead, her stay turned into a nightmare. The couple groomed her under the guise of trying to heal her. They dressed her up, made her watch porn, and eventually she was sexually assaulted by Joe.
 
READ MORE: Drugs, theft, alcohol and inappropriate relationships alleged at Children’s Aid group home
 
 
M.K’s story is not unique. The Holms would eventually be convicted of treating the wards in their care as sexual playthings. Joe pleaded guilty to the sexual assaults of three foster girls in the home, and Janet pleaded guilty to one count of sexual exploitation, one count of permitting a person under 18 to engage in sexual activity in her home and one count of possession of child pornography in relation to three foster children in the home. Both were sentenced to jail in 2011.
 
A Global News investigation shows what happened at the Holm house was not an isolated case, but one of several foster homes chosen by the now-defunct Prince Edward County Children’s Aid Society where foster parents were convicted of abusing children between 2002 and 2010.
 
Some say the abuse discovered in foster homes across the county went undetected for so long due to systemic failures at the Prince Edward County Children’s Aid Society. The judge who presided over the Holms’ criminal case called the abuse so outrageous that he hoped a public inquiry would be launched.
 
In April 2018, three years after the last conviction in the Prince Edward County abuse cases, OPP charged the former executive director of Prince Edward County Children’s Aid Society, Bill Sweet, with 10 counts of criminal negligence causing bodily harm and 10 counts failing to provide the necessities of life.
 
Sgt. Carolle Dionne, provincial media relations coordinator, said when Sweet was charged, he never fostered any children of his own, but oversaw a Children’s Aid Society where several foster children were abused.
 
His preliminary hearing begins next month.
 
READ MORE: Children’s Aid executive facing 20 charges in child abuse case
 
 
“‎Mr. Sweet intends to vigorously defend these charges. It would be inappropriate for him to comment further,” said his lawyer William MacDowell.
 
Meanwhile, the situation begs the question: has Children’s Aid done enough to ensure something like this never happens again?
 
What happened at the Holms’ house?
 
Two years before M.K. arrived, another girl, M.R., was also placed in Janet and Joe’s home at the age of 15. She said she was only meant to stay for a weekend after becoming violent towards her mother. Police were called, and Children’s Aid became involved.
 
Despite claiming to come from a fairly stable family, she stayed with the Holms for about five years. M.R. said she chose to live with the couple rather than her mother, who fought the whole time to get her back, because the Holms made her believe she was better off with them. M.R. also claims the Children’s Aid Society never made an effort to reconnect her with her family.
 
According to court documents from their sentencing hearing, between 2001 to 2010, Joe and Janet had 25 teens come through their home. The teens were allowed to drink, talk openly about sex and have sex with each other, but were still encouraged to have strong academics and participate in family activities.
 
As M.K. described it, sexuality was deliberately woven into the fabric of the family.
 
In the early days, Janet would set up photo shoots for her, dressing her in bathing suits and having her pose suggestively on the pool table, M.K. says
 
M.K. and M.R. described how the foster family would regularly watch porn together. For Christmas, along with regular teen stuff, the girls say they would receive sexual paraphernalia.
 
“I, for Christmas, received a penis straw, penis candy, a belly button ring of people having sex, sex lube oil [and] a silk nightie,” M.R. said.
 
M.K., M.R. and three other complainants, whom Global News has not identified, filed a civil suit against the Prince Edward County Children’s Aid Society in 2013. Children’s Aid settled with each of the women in the civil suits, who signed non-disclosure agreements, forbidding them from discussing the amount they received from the child welfare agency.
 
According to the statement of claim, Janet seemed to favour M.K.
 
“If I had a relationship with a boy from my high school, Janet would want me to take pictures of them while we were being intimate and show them to her,” M.K. told Global News.
 
M.K. says Janet would watch porn alone with her and also hand out her contact information to men in the area.
 
“She thought that was hilarious. I was at that point 16, 17 years old and there were people in the community that were messaging me and talking about very inappropriate sexual things with me.”
 
WATCH: Woman charged with sexual exploitation worked at Children’s Aid at time of alleged offences
 
 
Joe was allegedly more overt in his pursuit of the girls. He was seemingly obsessed with M.R.’s breasts, according to the statement of claim. The document alleges that he repeatedly complimented her breasts and took photos of her chest while she was clothed. The document also details how Joe would brush up against her, so that he could fondle her.
 
But Joe had his sights on M.K. The court documents describe how he forced her to watch a sex tape of him and Janet, allegedly assuring her the couple had previously had sex with other foster children.
 
The same document claims that Joe would grab M.K.’s “buttocks and breasts at parties with pornographic material being viewed on the TV in the presence of many other people.”
 
READ MORE: Children’s Aid Society dealing with ‘critical’ shortage of foster families in Hamilton (so they shove they anywhere they can?)
 
IS THERE REALLY A SHORTAGE OR HAS THE CAS USING MOTHERISK AND FAKE EXPERTS SIMPLY SCOOPED UP TOO MANY CHILDREN?
 
 
This would have happened at one of Janet and Joe’s many “sex parties.”
 
In court documents from Janet and Joe’s sentencing hearing in 2011, Assistant Crown Attorney Jodi Whyte described the parties where foster children would entertain Janet and Joe’s friends through a game of pool.
 
It wasn’t normal pool.
 
“The loser would have a penalty,” according to the documents. “The penalties would be kissing someone or flashing someone, doing a lap dance or strip tease and ultimately sometimes resulted in one of the girls performing fellatio on someone.”
 
Article continues:
 
 
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A 14-year-old girl is a ‘sexually mature young woman,’ not a child, children’s aid society lawyer argues in sex abuse suit
 
By Jacques Gallant Legal Affairs Reporter Sun., March 24, 2019.
 
 
CAS denies any knowledge or responsibility for their lawyer who is defending the foster parents and the CAS.
 
 
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Negligence charges for former child welfare official after kids abused in foster care.
 
Criminal charges against Children's Aid Society administrators 'a rare thing'.
 
Ontario Provincial Police have taken the unusual step of charging the head of a Children's Aid Society for overseeing an agency that placed 10 children with foster parents who ended up being convicted of sexual abuse.
 
Bill Sweet, 67, former executive director of the Prince Edward County CAS, was charged in May with 10 counts of negligence causing bodily harm and 10 counts of failing to provide the necessities of life — a charge usually reserved for guardians who neglect children.
 
Sweet, who left the CAS in 2012, declined to discuss the case with CBC News. He's scheduled to make a court appearance later this month.
 
His case is being closely watched by advocates for children in care.
 
Lawyer Mary Birdsell, executive director of Justice for Children and Youth, says it could have wide-ranging implications for people whose job it is to protect children in need.
 
"It's not unheard of for [children's aid] societies and administrators to be sued when things go wrong," said Birdsell, who has been offering legal aid services to children in care for 20 years.
 
"But as far as I know, having an administrator brought up on criminal charges is a rare thing."
 
'I still struggle daily'
 
The 10 abused former foster children, now adults, will also be watching the case closely.
 
MK, whose identity is protected under a court-ordered publication ban, is one of them.
 
She was 15 years old in 2007 when the Prince Edward County CAS placed her, along with two other teenage girls, in foster care with Joe and Janet Holm.
 
But that foster home, meant to be a place of refuge, ended up being where MK faced even more harm.
 
"I still struggle daily with having to use the coping mechanisms that I learned in therapy to get through life," said MK, now 26.
 
She remembers Joe Holm being extremely sexually inappropriate from the start, something she says Janet Holm continually tried to cover up.
 
N.W.T. government faces lawsuit over allegations it failed to protect children from sexual abuse
 
Consultant hired to review 'effectiveness' of child protection system
 
 
"We were told by my foster mother that my foster father was not to be present when [CAS] would do the annual visits," she said. "He was very very inappropriate with almost every single person he met."
 
MK says her former foster father faced no consequences when his sexually inappropriate comments and touching were exposed.
 
"I recall something had happened with my foster father and one of the young girls in the home, and [CAS workers] had asked us if that had actually happened and we said, 'Yes, we witnessed this happening,' and he was told not to do it again and it was left at that," MK said.
 
"So when the behaviour started to progress with me, I almost kind of felt that this was normal, that I deserved this."
 
Joe Holm went on to sexually abuse MK over the next three and a half years.
 
In April 2011, the Holms pleaded guilty to charges including sexual assault, invitation to sexual touching and possessing child pornography related to the sexual abuse of MK and four other children in their care. The judge sentenced Joe Holm to four years in prison and Janet Holm to three years.
 
Theirs wasn't an isolated case.
 
Province issues damning report
 
Three other Prince Edward County foster parents were convicted of sexual offences against children in their care — all placed with them by the county's CAS.
 
The large number of sexual abuse charges and convictions in what was the smallest children's aid society in Ontario prompted the province's Ministry of Children and Youth Services to launch a wide-ranging review.
 
A report issued in 2012 found a poorly run, dysfunctional organization where workers routinely failed to complete proper screening of foster parents. Monthly checks-ins on the foster homes were also not done.
 
And infighting among staff meant crucial information about foster parents was often not shared.
 
MK believes her social worker was not aware of the abuse until she told him.
 
After the damning government review, the Prince Edward County CAS was merged into the regional Highland Shores CAS.
 
It's unclear what led police to charge Sweet, but the report, seen by CBC News, found the CAS under his direction had issues involving, among other things:
 
Child protection investigation practices with respect to foster homes, particularly with respect to record keeping and documentation, verification of abuse and compliance with requirements for child protection investigations.
Compliance with child protection standards.
Mark Kartusch, executive director of Highland Shores, says a lot has changed in the way foster care is run in Prince Edward County.
 
"We have a lot of checks and balances in place. When we open a foster home there's a very extensive assessment process, some even call it intrusive," he said. "This was an extremely rare event. For something like this to happen and to this scale, it was just completely out of the norm."
 
MK says she hopes the charges against Sweet are a warning to all CAS administrators.
 
"I hope this is an eyeopener for them," she said. "I hope the agencies can be present and mindful of who they allow to be foster parents."
 
 
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Five former foster children are suing the Prince Edward County Children’s Aid Society and four former foster parents for millions of dollars in damages stemming from sexual abuse while they were in the society’s care.
 
The civil suits total $14 million ($2.8 million per plaintiff). Of the four former foster parents being sued, two are now serving prison terms for sexual abuse of children placed in their care. A third convicted predator’s case is now before the Ontario Court of Appeal.
 
The claims were filed March 28 by Belleville lawyer John Bonn, on the behalf of the five female plaintiffs, now in their late teens and early 20s. All complainants listed claim that “PECCAS is liable for the abuse that each of them suffered while in the care of PECCAS.”
 
The society is now part of the newly-amalgamated Highland Shores Children’s Aid Society, which also spans the societies of Hastings and Northumberland Counties.
 
“PECCAS is responsible in fact and in law for its own negligence and breaches of its statutory and fiduciary duties as well as for the negligence and breaches of duty committed by its servants, agents and employees,” states the claim, a copy of which was obtained by The Intelligencer.
 
One statement of claim states, “PECCAS caused (the plaintiffs) permanent and extensive injuries and losses” ranging from alcohol and substance abuse to inability to trust, impairment of mental health, nightmares of abuse, suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts.
 
“They (plaintiffs) have incurred medical expenses and will continue to require therapy and medical attention,” the claim adds.
 
Anything may be alleged in a statement of claim. None of the suit’s claims have been proven in court.
 
Only initials were used to identify the complainants in the suits filed in a Picton court, as many of their names were banned from publication during the criminal proceedings.
 
Each plaintiff is claiming $350,000 for pain and suffering, in addition to $1 million each for loss of future earnings and another $1 million for punitive damages. They seek $100,000 in future care costs, plus $100,000 for special damages and $250,000 for aggravated damages.
 
A publication ban levied in criminal court prevents the naming of a 72-year-old man convicted last summer of abusing two girls, now in their late teens, at his Bloomfield home. The girls were ages 9 and 10 at the time. The man is now appealing his conviction and nine-year sentence.
 
He was convicted for two counts each of sexual assault, sexual exploitation and invitation to sexual touching. He and his wife are listed as John Doe and Jane Doe on the claim.
 
“The conduct of the Does was harsh, vindictive and reprehensible,” the suit claims.
 
In relation to the Does, the plaintiffs’ claim blames PECCAS for a series of alleged failures, including failing to investigate the Does upon complaints from both girls and “failure to advise the proper authorities, including the police, of occurrences of abuse” of the plaintiffs.
 
Improper monitoring and failure to warn potential victims and failure to conduct reference checks with respect to the Does are some of the other alleged failures PECCAS faces in the claim.
 
The other two former foster parents named are Walter Joseph Holm, 46, and his wife, Janet Holm, 49.
 
They pleaded guilty to several charges, including possession of child pornography, sexual assault and invitation to sexual touching and were sentenced in November 2011 to four- and three-year prison terms respectively.
 
Three of the five plaintiffs, now ages 21, 23, and 19, are linked to the Holms.
 
Justice Geoff Griffin blasted them for turning their home into a "sexual cult" while fostering 25 teenagers over the course of nine years.
 
Each of the three complainants linked to the Holms filed a plethora of allegations against PECCAS and the Holms, including claims the Holms “breached their judiciary and statutory duties through their commission of acts of abuse, and/or omission to prevent their commission of acts by permitting such abuse to occur and failing to provide each of the plaintiffs with proper ongoing care.”
 
The three plaintiffs further imply that PECCAS is “vicariously liable for the actions” of the Holms.
 
“PECCAS created or enhanced the risk of harm to each of the plaintiffs by materially empowering the Holms and by placing each of the plaintiffs under the control of the Holms,” states the claim.
 
“PECCAS was systematically negligent in failing to have in place management and operation procedures that would reasonably have prevented the abuse,” reads the claim. “They failed to properly investigate or take the appropriate action against the Holms upon receiving complaints regarding the abuse by the Holms.”
 
PECAS has received notice of the suit but the three former foster parents (the 72-year-old on bail with strict conditions and both imprisoned Holms) have yet to be served, sources said.
 
No defendants have filed statements of defence.
 
 
 
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Three former County foster children have reached out-of-court settlements with the Highland Shores Children’s Aid Society for damages stemming from sexual abuse sustained while they were in the society’s care.
 
An order dismissing further action against the child welfare agency has been approved by a judge at the Prince Edward County superior court where the lawsuit was filed in April 2013. Court staff confirmed only three of the five cases have been settled to date, leaving two outstanding plaintiffs.
 
Confidentiality provisions restrict the plaintiffs’ Belleville lawyer, John Bonn, from divulging details on the dollar amount of the compensation dispensed.
 
“It’s an order of the court dismissing the action on behalf of three of the plaintiffs, as against the children’s aid society,” Bonn said of the settlement. “They have resolved matters to their mutual satisfaction.”
 
Bonn added “there was no trial in this matter. They can’t talk about the terms of the resolution because there are confidentiality provisions in effect.”
 
When it was filed in 2013, the civil suits totalled $14 million ($2.8 million per plaintiff).
 
Each plaintiff initially claimed $350,000 for pain and suffering, in addition to $1 million each for loss of future earnings and another $1 million for punitive damages. They sought $100,000 in future care costs, plus $100,000 for special damages and $250,000 for aggravated damages.
 
Two outstanding plaintiffs will be addressed shortly, Bonn said.
 
“We continue to work on those,” he said. “We intend to mediate those.”
 
The suit directed at the CAS also targets four former foster parents, two are now serving prison terms for sexual abuse of children placed in their care. A third convicted predator’s case is now before the Ontario Court of Appeal.
 
“Like most of these issues, they’re difficult all the way through and deal with unpleasant issues, but the fact that we’ve been able to reach some form of agreement means that each side is able to live with it at some level,” Bonn said Tuesday.
 
Bonn filed the claims on behalf of the five female plaintiffs, now in their late teens and early 20s.
 
“With litigation done, it would bring an end to this piece of their involvement with the CAS,” Bonn said.
 
All complainants listed claim the Prince Edward County CAS (PECCAS) is liable for the abuse each of them suffered while in the care of PECCAS.
 
The County society is now part of the newly-amalgamated Highland Shores Children’s Aid Society, which also spans the societies of Hastings and Northumberland counties.
 
Mark Kartusch, the society’s executive director, was also tight-lipped about the settlement.
 
“I can’t disclose any of the details,” he said Tuesday. “However, we do hope this helps these youths move forward.”
 
Kartusch wouldn’t go as far as viewing the settlements as a form of closure for the plaintiffs.
 
“How does one ever have closure?” he said. “We believe in these young people and their future and want to support them in that.”
 
Before the 2013 merger, PECCAS was subjected to an extensive government probe which revealed a bevy of damning findings.
 
The investigation led by the Ministry of Child and Youth Services in Dec. 2011 – following a rash of child sex abuse charges against County foster parents – showed the agency was rife with significant internal conflicts recklessly placing vulnerable children in homes not properly screened and some cases not screened at all for months.
 
Kartusch said the agency has found better footing since the findings triggered amalgamation.
 
“I think we’re moving forward but will not forget the past,” he said.
 
Some concerns linger.
 
“I’m concerned that this may cause people to lose confidence in fostering or foster families,” he said, adding few bad apples aren’t representative of the whole bunch.
 
The 2013 statement of claims alleged “PECCAS is responsible, in fact and in law, for its own negligence and breaches of its statutory and fiduciary duties as well as for the negligence and breaches of duty committed by its servants, agents and employees,” states the claim, a copy of which was obtained by The Intelligencer in April 2013.
 
One statement of claim states, “PECCAS caused (the plaintiffs) permanent and extensive injuries and losses” ranging from alcohol and substance abuse to inability to trust, impairment of mental health, nightmares of abuse, suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts.
 
“They (plaintiffs) have incurred medical expenses and will continue to require therapy and medical attention,” the 2013 statement of claim adds.
 
Two of the former foster parents initially targeted in the claim were Walter Joseph Holm, 46, and his wife, Janet Holm, 49.
 
They pleaded guilty to several charges, including possession of child pornography, sexual assault and invitation to sexual touching and were sentenced in November 2011 to four- and three-year prison terms respectively.
 
Three of the five plaintiffs, now ages 21, 23, and 19, are linked to the Holms. It’s not known if they were the three of five now concluded.
 
Justice Geoff Griffin blasted the Holms for turning their home into a “sexual cult” while fostering 25 teenagers over the course of nine years.
 
The three plaintiffs further implied that PECCAS was “vicariously liable for the actions” of the Holms.
 
 
:::
 
Cornwall sex abuse victims given large settlements.
 
Some victims of the Cornwall sex abuse scandal are receiving large financial settlements after decades of allegations that a cover-up of a pedophile ring existed in the eastern Ontario city, CTV Ottawa has learned.Jun 10, 2010
 
The sex abuse scandal was uncovered in the early 1990s. A public inquiry ended in December 2009 after four years. The inquiry found the Catholic Church, police, the Ontario government and the legal system all failed to protect children from sexual predators.
 
Now, Ontario's attorney general has confirmed to CTV that several financial settlements have been reached with victims, and more lawsuits are outstanding.
 
-
-
Although confidentiality agreements could mean taxpayers will never learn the true cost of the settlements, a former MPP predicts the payouts will total tens of millions of dollars.
 
"I would look at somewhere between $70-100 million," said Garry Guzzo, a former Conservative MPP who blew the whistle on the scandal and pushed for a public inquiry.
 
Article continues below:
 
:::
 
2013: In Leaked Memo, CAS Staff Asked To Keep Cases Open To Retain Funding.
 
March is the end of the fiscal year for the agency and in the memo staff are instructed to complete as many investigations as possible (no fewer than 1,000), transfer as many cases as possible to “ongoing services,” and not close any ongoing cases during March.
 
Back in 2013 the children's aid society claimed there was a province wide funding shortfall of $67 million dollars and decided the best way to deal with that was to act in bad faith and defraud the government out of the taxpayers money by adding as many cases to ongoing services as they could, up to 1000 if possible (per society?)
 
The internal memo, signed by seven senior service managers, instructs staff to complete as many investigations as possible (no fewer than 1,000), transfer as many cases as possible to “ongoing services,” and not close any ongoing cases before the end of the fiscal year, March 31.
 
The memo indicated that these "unethical strategies" were necessary to reduce the society’s current deficit and secure future funding from the province.
 
"No one should be surprised that agencies like Peel CAS are taking extreme steps to ensure they have the funding necessary to fulfill their legislated mandates to protect children,” said Carrie Lynn Poole-Cotnam, 2013 Chair of the CUPE Ontario Social Services sector. "
 
"No one should be surprised?" - With the society's reputation HAS a truer thing ever been said? (might be the only true thing CUPE has ever said) but it is probably the first time anyone has gotten away with attempted fraud by called it just an extreme step.
 
Gene Colman, a Toronto family lawyer who handles cases involving CAS, said his office has been puzzled by the substantial increase in people calling because of CAS intervention in their families.
 
“I thought, ‘What’s going on, why are we getting so many calls?’ I wonder if it’s related. I don’t know,” he said not looking the gift horse in the mouth.
 
 
:::
 
Article continues: Cornwall sex abuse victims given large settlements.
 
"It's a lot of money coming from very few taxpayers, and the people of the Catholic Church are taxpayers."
 
While sources have told CTV the payouts are in the millions, alleged victim Steve Parisien says some individuals are getting less than $20,000.
 
"I think parishioners and taxpayers have a right to know how much has been paid out," he said.
 
A lawyer representing dozens of the victims wouldn't reveal how much money was paid. However, he confirmed several settlements have been reached with the Catholic diocese, the Ontario government and other Catholic organizations. There are also several cases in the works against the Children's Aid Society.
 
Cornwall's Catholic Diocese says it has settled all 16 of the lawsuits against the Catholic Church. The last lawsuit was settled a few weeks ago.
 
Bishop Paul-Andre Durocher says the total payouts from those lawsuits amount to $1.2 million. He adds none of those settlements involved confidentiality agreements.
 
"There's no doubt in my mind that these victims deserve this money," said Guzzo.
 
"You know the confidentiality agreement - never going to trial, never allowing it to become public - there's an element of hush money."
 
Although Parisien hasn't received a settlement, he is hoping to get some compensation for his experience.
 
He says while no amount of money will change his life, it will help validate what he went through.
 
"Just for my loss of wages - that's all I seek. I don't want nothing else from these people, they've done enough damage. And they have to sleep with themselves at night."
 
 
:::
 
2011: Ontario portrayed as pedophile paradise in U.S. ruse to capture predators.
 
A website set up by Homeland Security promoted the bogus firm Precious Treasure Holiday Co., which promised to arrange illegal encounters in Ontario for pedophiles
 
U.S. authorities have defended their online portrayal of Ontario as a haven for child-sex tourism, saying the ploy helped them catch four predators.
 
A controversial website set up by the Department of Homeland Security promoted the bogus firm Precious Treasure Holiday Co., which promised to arrange illegal encounters in Ontario for pedophiles.
 
Four people — two Germans and two Americans — fell for the sophisticated ruse and signed up for a trip.
 
A pamphlet that came with the website offered one night hotel accommodations in Canada and travel under the guise of “boyfriend and girlfriend going to gamble at casino.”
 
The pamphlet said transportation to Cleveland, meals and “condoms, lube, etc. . . ” were not included in the travel package.
 
But it was the use of Canada as a safe haven for sex tourism that raised questions about how the country was portrayed in the sting.
 
“Canada made for a more plausible scenario,” Brian Moskowitz, the special agent in charge of the investigation, told Postmedia News shortly after the indictments were announced.
 
“It was never our intent to take anyone to Canada and no children were involved. It was merely part of a scenario that we built.”
 
He said that Canada wasn’t used in the scenario over any perceived weaknesses or legal vulnerability.
 
Canadian authorities, such as those in Windsor, across the river from the Detroit offices of Homeland Security where Moskowitz is based, are alerted whenever such a sting is underway to prevent them from wasting resources on chasing the American operation, he said.
 
Homeland Security first set up the website in 2009. It remained online in several reincarnations until it was finally outed in March as a government sting by The Smoking Gun website.
 
“Sex tourism is a scourge and must be combated with every available resource,” Moskowitz said in a release when the convictions were announced in early September.
 
“These cases show international borders are no longer a hindrance for predators.”
 
The two German men convicted in the sting paid up to $1,600 to have sex with girls and boys between the ages of 10 and 13. One, a 49-year-old doctor from Stuttgart, was allegedly found with lingerie, sex toys, bondage ropes, straps, a mask, lubricant, 17 condoms as well as four stuffed unicorns and a paint-by-number set, Homeland Security said.
 
Two Ohio men also pleaded guilty to sex trafficking offences and possession of child pornography as a result of the sting. In one case, a 38-year-old man tried to organize a sexual encounter with an eight-year-old girl. In the other case, a 25-year-old man wasn’t legally allowed to enter Canada because he was on parole for a molestation conviction, Homeland Security said.
 
 
:::
 
Crown Ward Class Action (Children who suffered abuse before and while they were Crown wards, including in foster care and foster homes, and while in the care of the Children’s Aid Society (“CAS”)).
This class action claims that the Ontario government systematically failed to take all necessary steps to protect the legal rights and claims of children in its care.
 
In Ontario, a child may be removed from the care of his or her parents and put into the care of the Province for reasons that include physical, emotional, or sexual abuse, or neglect. In Ontario, permanent wards for whom the Province has legal responsibility are called Crown wards.
 
Crown wards were victims of criminal abuse, neglect and tortious acts as children, and as a result of which, were removed from the care of their families and placed under the care of the Province of Ontario. These children were also victims of abuse, neglect, and tortious acts while they were under the age of 18 and in the care of Ontario.
 
As a result of the crimes and torts committed against them prior to and during their Crown Wardship, the class members were entitled to apply for compensation from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board and to commence proceedings for civil damages.
 
The suit claims the province failed to take all necessary steps to protect the rights of Crown wards to apply for compensation from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board or to file personal injury claims for children who were abused prior to or while in the care of the Province.
 
The class action seeks to include all persons who became Crown Wards in Ontario on or after January 1, 1966, the date that the Province of Ontario voluntarily accepted legal responsibility and guardianship of Crown wards.
 
Please contact Koskie Minsky LLP with any questions:
 
 
Toll Free Hotline: 1.866.778.7985
 
 
:::
 
Nearly half of children in Crown care are medicated.
 
Psychotropic drugs are being prescribed to nearly half the Crown wards in a sample of Ontario children's aid societies, kindling fears that the agencies are overusing medication with the province's most vulnerable children.
 
Ontario researchers have found that not only were psychotropic drugs prescribed to a clear majority of the current and former wards interviewed, but most were diagnosed with mental-health disorders by a family doctor, never visited a child psychiatrist or another doctor for a second opinion, and doubted the accuracy of their diagnosis.
 
A Toronto Star investigation has found Ontario’s most vulnerable children in the care of an unaccountable and non-transparent protection system. It keeps them in the shadows, far beyond what is needed to protect their identities.
 
“When people are invisible, bad things happen,” says Irwin Elman, Ontario’s now former and last advocate for children and youth with the closure of the Office.
 
A disturbing number, the network's research director, Yolanda Lambe, added, have traded the child-welfare system for a life on the street.
 
"A lot of people are using drugs now," she said. "There's a lot of homeless young people who have been medicated quite heavily."
 
In Ontario the CAS has turned themselves into a multi-billion dollar private corporation using any excuse to compel parents into submitting to fake drug testing to justify removing children or keeping files open keeping that government funding flowing.
 
All the while they've taking the thousands of children to specific CAS approved doctors who are all to happy to prescribe medication based on the workers assessments of the child's condition.. That's why there are no follow ups with qualified medical and psychiatric doctors and not because the CAS lack the funding, staff or attention span to care properly for the children.
 
Marti McKay is a Toronto child psychologist was hired by a CAS to assess the grandparents' capacity as guardians only to discover a child so chemically altered that his real character was clouded by the side effects of adult doses of drugs.
 
"There are lots of other kids like that," said Dr. McKay, one of the experts on the government panel. "If you look at the group homes, it's close to 100 per cent of the kids who are on not just one drug, but on drug cocktails with multiple diagnoses.
 
"There are too many kids being diagnosed with ... a whole range of disorders that are way out of proportion to the normal population. ... It's just not reasonable to think the children in care would have such overrepresentation in these rather obscure disorders."
 
According to documents obtained by The Globe and Mail under Ontario's Freedom of Information Act, 47 per cent of the Crown wards - children in permanent CAS care - at five randomly picked agencies were prescribed psychotropics last year to treat depression, attention deficit disorder, anxiety and other mental-health problems. And, the wards are diagnosed and medicated far more often than are children in the general population.
 
 
"Use of 'behaviour-altering' drugs widespread in foster, group homes."
 
Almost half of children and youth in foster and group home care aged 5 to 17 — 48.6 per cent — are on drugs, such as Ritalin, tranquilizers and anticonvulsants, according to a yearly survey conducted for the provincial government and the Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies (OACAS). At ages 16 and 17, fully 57 per cent are on these medications.
 
In group homes, the figure is even higher — an average of 64 per cent of children and youth are taking behaviour-altering drugs. For 10- to 15-year-olds, the number is a staggering 74 per cent.
 
 
:::
 
What’s worse is that the number of children prescribed dangerous drugs is on the rise. Doctors seem to prescribe medication without being concerned with the side-effects.
 
Worldwide, 17 million children, some as young as five years old, are given a variety of different prescription drugs, including psychiatric drugs that are dangerous enough that regulatory agencies in Europe, Australia, and the US have issued warnings on the side effects that include suicidal thoughts and aggressive behavior.
 
According to Fight For Kids, an organization that “educates parents worldwide on the facts about today’s widespread practice of labeling children mentally ill and drugging them with heavy, mind-altering, psychiatric drugs,” says over 10 million children in the US are prescribed addictive stimulants, antidepressants and other psychotropic (mind-altering) drugs for alleged educational and behavioral problems.
 
In fact, according to Foundation for a Drug-Free World, every day, 2,500 youth (12 to 17) will abuse a prescription pain reliever for the first time (4). Even more frightening, prescription medications like depressants, opioids and antidepressants cause more overdose deaths (45 percent) than illicit drugs like cocaine, heroin, methamphetamines and amphetamines (39 percent) combined. Worldwide, prescription drugs are the 4th leading cause of death.
 
 
:::
 
Standards of Care for the Administration of Psychotropic Medications to Children and Youth Living in Licensed Residential Settings.
 
Summary of Recommendations of the Ontario Expert Panel February 2009.
 
 
:::
 
2009: Ninety children known to Ontario's child welfare system died in 2007, according to the latest report from the chief coroner's office – a number the province's new child advocate says is shocking and should trouble us all.
 
 
:::
 
Between 2008/2012 natural causes was listed as the least likely way for a child in care to die at 7% of the total deaths reviewed while "undetermined cause" was listed as the leading cause of death of children in Ontario's child protection system at only 43% of the total deaths reviewed.
 
92 children equals 43% of the deaths reviewed by the PDRC. 92 mystery deaths and like every other year no further action was taken to determine the cause...
 
 
 
:::
 
Separating kids from parents a 'textbook strategy' of domestic abuse, experts say — and causes irreversible, lifelong damage even when there is no other choice.
 
“Being separated from parents or having inconsistent living conditions for long periods of time can create changes in thoughts and behavior patterns, and an increase in challenging behavior and stress-related physical symptoms,” such as sleep difficulty, nightmares, flashbacks, crying, and yelling says Amy van Schagen - California State University.
 
The Science Is Unequivocal: Separating Families Is Harmful to Children Even When There Is No Other Choice.
 
In news stories and opinion pieces, psychological scientists are sharing evidence-based insight from decades of research demonstrating the harmful effects of separating parents and children.
 
In an op-ed in USA Today, Roberta Michnick Golinkoff (University of Delaware), Mary Dozier (University of Delaware), and Kathy Hirsh-Pasek (Temple University) write:
 
“Years of research are clear: Children need their parents to feel secure in the world, to explore and learn, and to grow strong emotionally.”
 
In a Washington Post op-ed, James Coan (University of Virginia) says:
 
“As a clinical psychologist and neuroscientist at the University of Virginia, I study how the brain transforms social connection into better mental and physical health. My research suggests that maintaining close ties to trusted loved ones is a vital buffer against the external stressors we all face. But not being an expert on how this affects children, I recently invited five internationally recognized developmental scientists to chat with me about the matter on a science podcast I host. As we discussed the border policy’s effect on the children ensnared by it, even I was surprised to learn just how damaging it is likely to be.”
 
Mia Smith-Bynum (University of Maryland) is quoted in The Cut:
 
“The science leads to the conclusion that the deprivation of caregiving produces a form of extreme suffering in children. Being separated from a parent isn’t just a trauma — it breaks the relationship that helps children cope with other traumas.
 
Forceful separation is particularly damaging, explains clinical psychologist Mia Smith-Bynum, a professor of family science at the University of Maryland, when parents feel there’s nothing in their power that can be done to get their child back.
 
For all the dislocation, strangeness and pain of being separated forcibly from parents, many children can and do recover, said Mary Dozier, a professor of child development at the University of Delaware. “Not all of them — some kids never recover,” Dr. Dozier said. “But I’ve been amazed at how well kids can do after institutionalization if they’re able to have responsive and nurturing care afterward.”
 
The effects of that harm may evolve over time, says Antonio Puente, a professor of psychology at the University of North Carolina, Wilmington who specializes in cultural neuropsychology. What may begin as acute emotional distress could reemerge later in life as PTSD, behavioral issues and other signs of lasting neuropsychological damage, he says.
 
“A parent is really in many ways an extension of the child’s biology as that child is developing,” Tottenham said. “That adult who’s routinely been there provides this enormous stress-buffering effect on a child’s brain at a time when we haven’t yet developed that for ourselves. They’re really one organism, in a way.” When the reliable buffering and guidance of a parent is suddenly withdrawn, the riot of learning that molds and shapes the brain can be short-circuited, she said.
 
In a story from the BBC, Jack Shonkoff (Harvard University) discusses evidence related to long-term impacts:
 
Jack P Shonkoff, director of the Harvard University Center on the Developing Child, says it is incorrect to assume that some of the youngest children removed from their parents’ care will be too young to remember and therefore relatively unharmed. “When that stress system stays activated for a significant period of time, it can have a wear and tear effect biologically.
 
:::
 
2018: “We need to do more to make sure that children are safe and cared for. When a child dies in care, someone is held responsible,” Children, Community and Social Services minister Lisa MacLeod added.
 
 
-
Does that mean someone was responsible for all the deaths in care up to now or just from now on?
 
:::
 

2019 - EXCLUSIVE: Convicted group home owner moves operations to Oshawa.

The man at the centre of an in-depth CityNews investigation into illegal group homes is now accused of moving his operations to Oshawa.

Authorities in Oshawa believe Winston Manning is in breach of probation and say more charges are pending, adding that vulnerable people have been put in danger.

In 2016, Manning was a key figure in an Ontario Provincial Police probe into illegal group homes. The investigation found that people with physical and mental health issues were living in deplorable conditions: mattresses on the floor, inadequate food, mouse feces and the smell of urine in the homes.

The findings were corroborated by a former tenant at the time, who was identified only as Dave.

“[It was] filthy. Turn on a light in the middle of the night and you could see the cockroaches moving, almost like a carpet. There were thousands of them,” he told CityNews.

Just 11 months ago, Manning plead guilty to to multiple fire code violations in relation to several illegal group homes in Toronto. He and his company, Comfort Residential Group Homes, were fined more than $80,000, put on probation and ordered not to operate any illegal homes.

Shortly after, Manning was charged again after a fire broke out at an illegal rooming house in the Victoria Park area in November 2018. Fire officials believe it was around the same time he started operating in Oshawa.

On Tuesday, authorities removed nine tenants from a residence in Oshawa — the fourth illegal home operated by Manning in that city. Three staff members were also in the home.

Carson Ryan, Fire Prevention Inspector with Oshawa Fire, says fire safety is one of the main issues in the home.

“We’ve had problems with fire separation issues, smoke alarms, carbon monoxide alarms — which are all required in any home. And there is a higher requirement in vulnerable occupancy care in these homes, for them to be compliant,” he tells CityNews

“What’s concerning the most is a large number of residents there don’t know where they are, how they got there, how long they’ve been there or how to contact anybody,” he adds. “They lose all their documentation coming into the house, they lose their cellphones, their medications are dispensed for them, allegedly, and they don’t have anybody to turn to.”

Oshawa fire officials say the house is in violation of the fire code and vulnerable residents, who Carson says have both physical and cognitive limitations, would not be able to get out safely in an emergency.

“Not only are [illegal group homes] a danger to the people within, they are a danger to first responders going into the homes, not expecting typically 12 people inside of a single detached dwelling. It’s also an issue for neighbours for fire exposures,” says Carson.

The residents are allegedly being cared for, but Carson says from what he’s seen, he doubts they are receiving the level of care they need. He describes an upsetting scene the very first time he stepped into the home.

“The first time I walked into this home there was an adult male wearing a soiled diaper, wearing only a t-shirt, wandering around the house trying to find his way and how he got there. He was brought there the night before. A lot of questions that he asked, I unfortunately didn’t have an answer for. He did look like he was in a bit of a desperate situation,” he says.

Officials are also concerned that residents, who pay about $1,000 per month to share a bedroom, aren’t being fed properly. Carson says he’s never seen any nutritious food in the home, only instant pasta and noodles. A resident who lives nearby told Citynews a woman from the home would often knock on neighbours’ doors, asking for food and cigarettes.

The condition of the home is described as relatively clean, except for the smell of urine and feces throughout the home.

CityNews reached out to Manning several times via phone but did not get a response.

Carson says charges are pending in one of the other three cases of illegal group homes run by Manning in Oshawa – including enforcement of the probation orders obtained by Toronto Fire.

Officials in Toronto do not believe Manning is currently operating any illegal group homes within the city.

https://toronto.citynews.ca/2019/07/10/group-home-owner-moves-operations-to-oshawa/

:::

Teen’s death in unlicensed Oshawa group home raises questions about secrecy surrounding kids in care. NEWS Dec 10, 2015.

DURHAM -- Justin Sangiuliano, who died on April 21, 2015, at age 17 at Lakeridge Health hospital in Oshawa. Justin, who had developmental disabilities,was rushed to hospital without a heartbeat on April 16, 2011. He never regained consciousness after being restrained by two workers at his group home and was declared brain dead on April 21, 2015. 

https://dynamicmedia.zuza.com/zz/m/original_/2/a/2a3d8df5-e8b7-4883-a7c4-f42c32bc62b2/DZ_group_home_death___Gallery.jpg

DURHAM -- On a late afternoon in April, Justin Sangiuliano put on his helmet and gloves to go for a bicycle ride.    

But staff at the unlicensed Oshawa group home where the 17-year-old developmentally disabled teen lived were planning to take him fishing instead. They locked the bicycle shed to be sure the energetic six-footer got the message.    

Justin was furious. He stormed around the home, swinging his fists until staff grabbed his arms to restrain him. Kicking and screaming — and still in the clutches of two staff members — the teen fell to the living room floor, where he reportedly rubbed his face back and forth on the carpet until his forehead, chin and cheeks were raw.    

Some time later, he stopped struggling and staff released him. But Justin never got up. He was rushed to Lakeridge Health Oshawa and arrived without a heartbeat, according to a serious occurrence report filed by Enterphase Child and Family Services, the private company that runs the group home.    

Justin, a ward of the children’s aid society in Timmins, Ont., never regained consciousness and died five days later.    

Under Ontario’s current child protection system, his story might never have been told, because authorities concluded that neither criminal charges nor an inquest were warranted.    

“It is stunning to me how these children... are rendered invisible while they are alive and invisible in their death,” said Irwin Elman, Ontario’s independent advocate for children and youth. Mr. Elman was unaware of Justin’s death until informed by the Star. Between 90 and 120 children and youth connected to children’s aid die every year.    

Durham Regional Police investigated the April 16 incident and laid no charges. Dr. Jennifer Arvanitis, the regional supervising coroner, said her “investigation is complete and there are no plans to call an inquest.”    

Although the results of coroner’s investigations in Ontario are private unless there is an inquest or a trial, a source close to the case has said an autopsy showed Justin had an undiagnosed heart condition.    

Enterphase’s executive director, Harold Cleary, declined to discuss the case due to the company’s privacy policies.    

However in an emailed statement, Mr. Cleary noted that a Durham Children’s Aid Society investigation of the incident concluded “there are no current child protection concerns that require ongoing involvement... staff administered (the physical restraint) appropriately.”    

Physical restraint, which can include immobilizing a child or youth by holding the child by the shoulders and wrists with their arms extended, as happened with Justin, is controversial in group homes. The practice resulted in two high-profile inquests into the deaths of two children restrained in Brampton and Peterborough-area homes in the late 1990s.    

A Star analysis of serious occurrence reports filed to the Ministry of Children and Youth Services by Enterphase shows the agency’s use of restraints in 2013 and 2014 is about twice the provincial average of 36 per cent for that time period.    

According to documents obtained through freedom of information requests, restraints were used in 451 of the 633 serious occurrence reports filed by Enterphase during this time — a rate of 71 per cent.    

From January to mid-May 2015, there were 84 cases of restraints out of 152 serious occurrence reports, for a rate of 54 per cent.     Mr. Cleary, whose agency has a capacity to serve 47 children and youth in nine licensed homes in the GTA and Peterborough area, said he does not think his restraint rates are excessive.    

“However, Enterphase is always looking for ways to further reduce the use of restraint,” he said in his email to the Star. “The goal of reducing restraint is part of our agency culture.”    

Children’s ministry officials met with Enterphase in 2013 “to discuss expectations around serious occurrence reporting requirements relating to physical restraints in their licensed sites,” a spokeswoman told the Star in an email.    

“Following the incident of April 2015, the ministry has undertaken a full licensing review for this location, given the type of service provided there,” said Aly Vitunski, spokeswoman for Children’s Minister Tracy MacCharles, referring to Justin’s death at Enterphase’s home on Centre Street South in Oshawa.    

Mr. Cleary noted that under current ministry regulations, group homes like the one Justin was in — with fewer than three children or youth — do not require licences. Enterphase is also an accredited children’s mental health centre, he added.    

Regardless of credentials or number of children served, Mr. Elman said he wants the ministry to ensure all group homes are licensed.

As a provincially appointed panel reviewing residential services for children and youth prepares to report at the end of the year, Mr. Elman and other advocates say Justin’s death raises serious questions about the use of restraints on vulnerable children and youth in the care of children’s aid. The secrecy surrounding the incident, they add, is even more alarming.   

“I think there should be an inquest in this case — in all cases when children die in the care of the government,” said Mr. Elman, who has called for the province to reduce the use of physical restraints to zero. “We need to have a public, open discussion about how we cared (for) and protected that child.    

On Monday, the Legislature passed a private member’s bill introduced by NDP children’s critic Monique Taylor that will require children’s aid societies and other agencies to inform the advocate’s office when a child or youth in care has died or suffered serious injury. The law will come into effect next year.    

Mr. Elman, who has been seeking this information since he was first appointed in 2008, argues it will help him in his duty to investigate and report concerns to the Legislature.    

“It’s no longer OK for the coroner to go behind closed doors with the ministry and perhaps a representative of the child welfare agency involved and say: ‘Nothing to see here. Move along’, ” he said.    

Justin’s death comes amid an ongoing Star investigation that has revealed an unaccountable and secretive child protection system and the recent auditor general’s report, which outlined a litany of problems including improperly conducted investigations into child abuse and the government’s failure to fully enforce standards.    

An analysis of serious occurrence reports in Toronto group homes in 2013 found one in three involved the use of physical restraints.   

From 2010 to 2015, data recently obtained by the Star shows there were about 45,000 physical restraints in Ontario, according to reports filed to the Ministry of Children and Youth Services. That is about 36 per cent of the 126,400 serious occurrences reported to the ministry by agencies serving vulnerable children and youth, most of them referred by children’s aid societies.    

Under provincial regulations, physical restraints can be used only to prevent a group home resident from injuring themselves or others, or from causing significant property damage. 

They can be used only when less intrusive methods have been tried or deemed not to be effective.    

As a result of deaths in the late 1990s, provincial regulations were changed to require ministry-approved training in physical restraints for all front-line staff.    

However, the children’s ministry does not know how many children or youth have died after being physically restrained in group homes since those measures were introduced.    

Coroner’s reports are generally confidential and released only to family members upon request. Since most Crown wards don’t have family who would notify the media or seek help from the provincial advocate, it is difficult for the public and those working in the field to know what is happening, Mr. Elman said.    

Although the government lists six approved training programs in the use of physical restraints, no one has looked at which techniques are best, said Kim Snow, an associate professor at Ryerson University’s School of Child and Youth Care.    

“Is one safer than the other? Should one be used in certain situations and not others? Should we only use this type of restraint on little kids versus another type of restraint on big kids? Sometimes staff can’t contain kids using a restraint. So what happens when those situations occur,” she said.    

“Until we can answer those questions, the risk of harm as a result of restraints is quite high. For staff and kids.”    

Ms. Snow, who has worked in the field for more than three decades, including several years in the 1980s running group homes, also wants the Province to track the use of restraints more closely.    

“We can’t continue to have these things hidden and continue to practice these interventions and not expect further injury,” she said. “These are our most vulnerable children... If we don’t have mechanisms to review this, the cycle is going to continue. If anything, it’s going to get worse.”

With files from Sandro Contenta and Jim Rankin

https://www.durhamregion.com/news-story/6168152-teen-s-death-in-unlicensed-oshawa-group-home-raises-questions-about-secrecy-surrounding-kids-in-care/

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2016: An expert panel has delivered a report to the Ontario government on the troubled state of residential care for our most vulnerable children. It will soon be made public. Rarely heard are the voices of the youth themselves. Here are the stories of Simon and Lindsay.

Simon’s story: Staffer ‘would try to pick fights’

Simon came home from high school on a fall day in 2013 to find police cars in front of his east-end Toronto home. His mother was “crying her eyes out.” Children’s aid, backed by police, had come to take Simon and his two younger sisters.

The Children’s Aid Society of Toronto had placed the family under supervision that April. Six months later, it decided matters had not improved.

In documents, the society said the children had missed about two years of school. Their home was a mess and the society feared for the children’s health. Parents were considered negligent, allowing their 12-year-old daughter to stay out until 1:30 a.m. and blocking attempts to help the children deal with “self-destructive” behaviour.

Related: Children's aid societies urge Ontario group-home overhaul

Simon calls the allegations “bizarre and false.” He blames a child protection worker he describes as inexperienced.

On one point, however, Simon and the society would likely agree: when children are taken from parents deemed neglectful or abusive, their group home care should be better than the care they left behind. Simon insists his was worse.

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https://www.thestar.com/news/insight/2015/07/03/kids-in-toronto-group-homes-can-be-arrested-for-being-kids.html

Children's aid societies urge Ontario group-home overhaul

He was 16 and bounced to four group homes in one year. He says he saw staff repeatedly bullying and verbally abusing residents. “It was very scary,” says Simon, now 18. (The Star is not using his last name because his sisters remain in care.)

Simon’s longest stretch was at a Hanrahan Youth Services group home in Scarborough. He says he was so frightened by what he saw that he began to secretly record incidents with his iPod. One recording, which he posted online, captures a man — Simon identifies him as a Hanrahan staffer — shouting at a young male resident. The dispute began, Simon says, because the youth refused to respect house rules and go to his room at 9 p.m. It escalated, the man accusing the youth of telling housemates he would head-butt him. His voice full of anger and menace, the man dares a calm-sounding youth to do it.

“Head-butt me!” the man shouts. “I’m right here in front of you. Head-butt me! Do it! Do it!”

“You going to call the cops on me,” the youth says.

“Who will call the cops on you? For what? Head-butt me!” the man insists.

“You are a problem,” the youth replies.

The staffer, Simon says, “used to have these episodes every day with the kids. He would try to pick fights. He knew that if these kids punched him he would have the right to restrain them, and he would use excessive force. He would bang their head up against the floor and they would be bleeding.”

Simon also describes often being locked out of the home when he arrived after curfew.

Bob Hanrahan, who owns and operates Hanrahan Youth Services, said in an email he could not comment on Simon’s allegations “due to confidentiality restrictions.” Training for home staff, Hanrahan added, includes a course on managing aggressive behaviour.

Simon was moved to two other group homes, where he says bullying and the physical restraint of young residents were common. A third was the only one he could stomach.

On Oct. 27, 2014, a judge agreed to return him to his mother’s care.

“Kids suffer more damage in group homes than they do when they’re living with their parents,” Simon says. “That’s one thing the government and the public should know about group homes.”

Lindsay’s story: Enters home at 12, pregnant at 14

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Examples of tough situations in Toronto group homes 

https://www.thestar.com/news/insight/2015/07/03/tough-times-in-toronto-group-homes.html

Lindsay’s family asked York Region Children’s Aid Society for help when she became too much to handle.

Lindsay, who is autistic, was “aggressive, specifically towards myself and her father,” says Elizabeth, Lindsay’s grandmother and primary caregiver at the time. “We were afraid that somebody was going to get hurt.”

In a voluntary arrangement, Lindsay was placed in a foster home, but her foster mom couldn’t deal with her either. Three months later, at age 12, she was moved to a co-ed group home in Scarborough, run by East Metro Youth Services.

Lindsay, now 15, was placed in a co-ed Scarborough group home when she was 12. Here, she looks at a serious occurrence report from the home that involved her.

It would be home for 21 months, until March 2015. Lindsay “grew up really fast,” says her father, Eric, whose struggles with depression made it impossible to be her main caregiver.

Lindsay says she was exposed to “drugs, parties, alcohol, abuse, self-harm. People with mental disabilities who weren’t being treated right.” (Names have been changed for this story because, by law, a minor in care cannot be identified.)

The group home accommodated eight young people up to age 18. Lindsay was the youngest. The kids often got in trouble with staff, says Lindsay, and punishment included extra chores and being “isolated in your room.” Lindsay and her family contacted the Star after Lindsay recognized an incident in a Star story. In that incident, Lindsay and another girl, upset with staff, left without permission and bounced a basketball down the street. “We weren’t doing anything illegal.”

They returned but were locked out. It was cold, so the other girl made a small fire in the backyard. Staff ordered it put out. The other girl complied, says Lindsay, and the two pounded on the door.

“It had been almost an hour,” says Lindsay. “I couldn’t feel my face. So we just kicked in the door.”

Police took the girls away in handcuffs. Lindsay was not charged; she says the other girl never returned.

Lindsay says police were often called when kids broke house rules. She describes most staff as yelling a lot and unable to properly deal with kids with mental health and behavioural issues.

In a statement to the Star, East Metro Youth Services said staff are yearly “offered specialized conflict resolution and de-escalation training,” which results in “minimized” need to call police. They are only called “if there is a danger of harm to residents or staff.”

A Star analysis of Toronto serious occurrence reports from 2013 shows that of 41 reports filed by Lindsay’s home, 13 involved police, or 32 per cent. That is below the average of 39 per cent for Toronto group homes that year.

Lindsay says the kids were unwatched for long periods at night and could sneak out, claiming “a lot” of sex among residents when she arrived in 2013. She says she was 13 when she first asked staff about getting birth control pills, which would require an appointment with a doctor. The appointment, she says, was never made.

At 14, Lindsay got pregnant by a fellow resident. In its statement, East Metro said condoms were always available, and all prescription medication requires signatures by resident and family or guardian. The agency would not comment on her case, but said: “Ultimately, it is an individual’s choice to use birth control measures. When a young person is worried she might be pregnant, pregnancy tests are provided in all cases, without exception.”

The home closed in March 2015. The agency says it was due to “reduced demands” driven, in part, by a greater push by children’s aid societies to find alternatives. It runs a second group home.

The closure disrupted the school year for Lindsay, who, earlier than planned, moved back home to live with her grandparents and father. She gave birth to a girl. The baby was adopted in a private arrangement and is doing well says Lindsay’s grandmother, Elizabeth.

Lindsay, however, “is struggling” with both school and post traumatic stress brought on by her experience at the group home, says Elizabeth. She also moved schools last fall after a student “grabbed her phone” and discovered photos of her with the baby. In the past three years, she has been to five different schools.

Elizabeth calls her granddaughter “one of the fortunate ex-group homers,” with a supportive family.

Although the family encountered some good people after calling on children’s aid for help, they say they would never ask for such help again.

“The children’s aid society,” says Lindsay’s dad, “sent me home a pregnant 14-year-old daughter.”

https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2016/03/14/two-teens-harrowing-stories-of-ontario-group-homes.html

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‘No one listened’: How reports of sexual abuse in an Ontario foster home were allegedly dismissed for years..

Global provides a quote from one of the victims demonstrating that neighbours wondered how Joe and Janet Holmes were able to receive and care for children. The same victim had her contact information distributed by her abusers to people in the town, who then sent her sexually inappropriate messages and contributed to her abuse. 

Tragically, foster home scarcity may have contributed to the ongoing neglect of the Holms’ crimes. One victim, whose name was redacted by Global to protect their identity, said her attempt to report her foster parent, Joe Holms, forcing her to “cuddle” on the couch simply resulted in him being told “to stop cuddling the children.” Revelation like this may have led to Justice Geoffrey Griffin, the judge who oversaw the conviction of the Holms to comment “The idea that the Children’s Aid Society didn’t know or, or shouldn’t have been aware that something was going on, is hard for me to accept.”

While both Joe and his wife Janet were sentenced to jail time in 2011 for their various, horrific abuses of children, they were far from the only ones. Global reports the last foster family to be convicted with the abuse of children in their care in the Prince Edward county system was in 2015.

Some say the abuse discovered in foster homes across the county went undetected for so long due to systemic failures at the Prince Edward County Children’s Aid Society. The judge who presided over the Holms’ criminal case called the abuse so outrageous that he hoped a public inquiry would be launched.

In April 2018, three years after the last conviction in the Prince Edward County abuse cases, OPP charged the former executive director of Prince Edward County Children’s Aid Society, Bill Sweet,

Bill Sweet, the executive director of the Prince Edward County Children’s Aid Society, was charged in 2018 with 10 counts of neglect, and 10 counts of failing to provide the necessities of life. His preliminary trial begins in July 2019, and his lawyer asserts that he will defend himself against the charges.

https://globalnews.ca/news/5360057/teen-sexual-cult-ontario-foster-home-childrens-aid-society/

https://globalnews.ca/news/5428684/reports-of-sexual-abuse-foster-home-dismissed/

https://www.attorneygeneral.jus.gov.on.ca/inquiries/cornwall/en/report/v1_en.html

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About The Author

Advocates for family preservation against unwarranted intervention by government funded non profit agencies and is a growing union for families and other advocates speaking out against the children's aid society's... More