It’s a story nobody wants to hear much less tell people about. While researching the Children’s Aid Society you will inevitably find yourself stumbling across the same small names repeated quietly from the shadows. Tucked into the corners of articles, and blasted across the odd headline, all demanding justice they never had the chance to live to see; the names of the children who died while in the care of the Children’s Aid Society.
An unfortunate reality of the world today is that children are occasionally taken into care. The idea is that this is done in an effort to provide the protection and support that should have been the responsibility of the child’s parents but wasn’t being provided. A last resort to offer a safe haven to the children whose families are beyond repair and who’s parents have become their biggest threat. Whether or not the issues leading up to those apprehensions warrant the measure being taken has been up for strong debate for some time now, but there is an even stronger debate gathering on the peripheral.
Being a Canadian Citizen seems to go hand in hand with an expectation that there are laws, agencies and systems in place to provide for the people in whatever capacity may be necessary to them. A democratic country with enough wealth to ensure that even the smallest and most vulnerable of it’s people are ensured not just the most basic human rights but freedom of opportunity and the ability to provide the promise of a better future. There are children taken into care every year and in an effort to preserve their anonymity they remain nameless and faceless to the general public. The importance placed on protecting “the best interest of the child” is paramount and yet the very meaning of the statement is subjective and overused to the point of being misunderstood and misconstrued in ways that leaves even the professionals lacking comprehension. Privacy of the child overshadows transparency on the part of the people who fumble with the children’s care and is a quick cover up for mistakes that result in death. An effective and near total erasure of a person who, by being taken into the care of the state, was promised something better then what they received. These children go unmourned save by the few close enough to be touched by the loss in a way that no person who has ever known the death of a small child ever truly forgets. Unmourned because they are unknown and somehow landed in a case file with the C.AS. rendering them little more then a secret except in the most extreme of circumstances.
Names lost in a multitude of numbers, figures and statistics reporting in detached coldness of the suggestions towards better methods that may correct or prevent future incidents. As if the children and families who were effected, either by the accident or design of someone working within the system, are no longer people, rather, a disease which needs to be treated with the correct form of medicine. Each fumble or fall with a case file, nothing more then a misdiagnoses treated with a “better luck next time” approach and a general lack of apology or empathy. The technicalities abound in a world where social science becomes nothing more then a mass of scientific methods and formulae which are rigidly applied to situations where there are to many variables to provide an answer which has a black or white solution.
Sara Podniewicz, Jordan Heikamp, Randall Dooley, Katelynn Sampson, Miguel Fernandez and Jeffrey Baldwin, are among the increasing number of children who’s short lives were ended under the watchful eye of the C.A.S. Along with the lack of information on each of these children we are met with a similar response on the part of C.A.S. in which they point the finger of blame at someone else or decline to comment altogether citing privacy issues. The questions which arise as a result of these deaths follow along the lines of wanting to know exactly how the case was mishandled and where the signs were missed by an agency which defends its ability to identify signs of abuse or potential for abuse with infallible accuracy. Their resistance of oversight and rigorous court cases are evidence of their complete confidence in the rightness of their actions and yet those names speak to us from the recesses of the dusty file cabinets of a different story. A truth which remains untold and will remain so, denying these children justice, until oversight and accountability are as much a reality as the families who really do need the help of a well formed and assistive Family and Children’s Services.