Archive for September, 2009

12
Sep
09

Surrey Councillor Joins Fight For The Bayne Family

Surrey  Councillor  Joins  Critics  Of  Child  Ministry

By Robert Freeman

Chilliwack Progress

MUG.jpg
Marvin Hunt.

Published: July 27, 2009 2:00 PM
Updated: July 30, 2009 8:20 AM

Surrey councillor Marvin Hunt is personally stepping into the fight of a former Hope couple to regain custody of their children seized more than two years ago by the B.C. Children’s Ministry.

And Hunt is not alone among the doctors, social workers and others imploring the ministry to follow its own rules and return the three children.

Hunt said he will join a demonstration Thursday outside Premier Gordon Campbell’s office in support of Paul and Zabeth Baynes.

“I find it beyond belief that these kids are still within the care of the ministry,” Hunt told The Progress last Wednesday.

Hunt said as a politician he always looks for the missing pieces in government policies that create such problems, but in this case “all of the pieces of legislation are in place.”

“But what we have … is an absolute abuse of the system here,” he said. “There is no point in time where the system has lawfully worked through the paper process on behalf of these people.”

Hunt said he does know the remedy, but questioned whether some in the ministry “should be in this type of work.”

He noted that at one point the children were returned to the care of the grandparents, but were re-apprehended by ministry staff, apparently miffed because the couple “broke trust” and went to the media with their story.

Retired social worker Ray Ferris said the ministry is “blatantly breaking” the province’s child welfare legislation, and showing “a complete lack of ethics” in its dealings with the Hope couple.

“They’ve gone so far, they’ll get egg on their face if they back-track now,” he said.

A review is supposed to occur when any child is held in care longer than 12 months, but Ferris said the Baynes’s were never asked to take part in a review, so only the ministry’s view was reported.

The two boys, now aged three and four, and a 19-month-old girl, were apprehended by the ministry in September, 2007 because the couple was suspected of shaking the girl and causing a head injury.

The Baynes believe the injury was caused when their youngest son tripped and fell on their daughter’s head.

Dr. Peter Stephens, one of eight doctors prepared to testify on the Baynes’s behalf, said shaken-baby cases are driven by politicians who don’t want to appear “soft” on crime, and by social workers who rely on the opinion of doctors unaware of chronic subdural hematoma.

“People like the Baynes are collateral damage in the war on child abuse,” he told The Progress in a telephone interview from his North Carolina home.

He said the baby girl’s head injuries were not caused by being shaken, but by the lack of oxygen to her brain caused by a chronic subdural hematoma.

Nobody knows for sure how these chronic conditions start, Stephens said, but they could begin as early as birth and a “minor bump in the bathtub” trigger a re-bleed.

Whoever is last seen with the child when the brain damage is finally discovered, is the one who is mistakenly blamed, he said.

Zabeth Baynes said the ministry’s allegation that she’d shaken her baby and caused the injuries “came as a complete shock” so the couple decided to look for experts in the field.

She said the doctors were not chosen because of their opposition to the “shaken-baby” syndrome, but for their research in the field.

“We did not shake our baby, we knew that,” Baynes said, and the doctors were sent the medical files for review.

The ministry is not commenting on the case because it is before the courts.

But Minister Mary Polak said in a statement last month that social workers “make judgment calls that most of us cannot imagine … with the prime motivation to keep children safe.”

“There are going to be isolated cases in which questions will be raised about those decisions,” she said, but the ministry makes executive summaries of case reviews public “to ensure accountability and strengthen and enhance practice.”

rfreeman@theprogress.com

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11
Sep
09

Parents Plead For Daughters Medical Treatment

Birth parents plead for medical treatment for baby girl in foster care

Government emails cast doubt about whether infant was shaken, as alleged

Last Updated: Thursday, April 2, 2009 | 11:00 PM PT

CBC News

Paul and Zabeth Bayne say their 19-month-old daughter, who's in foster care, needs immediate medical attention.

The parents of three children seized by the B.C. government in September 2007 say there is new evidence to suggest allegations that they shook and injured their baby girl were unfounded.

The children — two boys, now aged four and three, and a 19-month-old baby girl — were taken in September 2007 by the Ministry of Children and Family Development because the couple were suspected of shaking the girl and causing a head injury.

But the Surrey couple, Paul and Zabeth Bayne, obtained internal documents from the Ministry of Children and Family Development that suggest their daughter likely suffers glutaric aciduria, a rare disease often mistaken for child abuse.

Glutaric aciduria is a genetic disorder with varied symptoms, sometimes including bleeding and swelling of the brain.

Several doctors told CBC News on Thursday that the disorder has been mistaken for child abuse in other cases, and children suffering from it can die.

The Baynes, who hadn’t heard of the condition until they obtained the ministry documents, said they want their daughter assessed and treated immediately.

Children and Family Development Minister Tom Christensen said Thursday he could not talk about this particular case.

Children and Family Development Minister Tom Christensen says foster children always get medical treatment when required.Children and Family Development Minister Tom Christensen says foster children always get medical treatment when required. (CBC)

“But anytime a child is taken into care, they are provided medical attention when that is required,” he said. “And we rely on the very top qualified pediatricians and others to advise us.”

The couple said their children’s foster mother emailed a social worker at the ministry two months ago, according to the documents they obtained.

“I noticed the baby sister was diagnosed with glutaric aciduria,” the email said.

“I decided to do a Google search.… Children with glutaric aciduria are often misdiagnosed with — believe it or not — shaken baby syndrome.”

The social worker, Kimberly Grey, responded: “We are very concerned about where [you] would have gotten this information… because of the sensitivity of the case.”

“This whole thing was a medical condition and an accident. And we just want them to admit their mistake,” Paul Bayne told CBC News on Thursday.

“We can’t do anything for our baby right now, and she really, really needs us,” Zabeth Bayne said.

The couple have said their daughter’s head was accidentally injured by their second son tripping and landing over her body. The couple have been fighting to get back their children ever since.

Supporters of the Baynes continued their weekly protest Thursday morning at B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell’s constituency office in Vancouver.

The couple, who now work as night janitors, have begun a legal challenge against the ministry’s decision. But they said they likely won’t get their day in court until sometime next year because of delays and backlogs in the court system.

11
Sep
09

Ministry Of Children and Family Development Disregards Their Lawyers Advice

Ministry disregarded legal advice to return seized children: document

Surrey parents insist they never harmed baby daughter

Last Updated: Friday, April 3, 2009 | 8:19 PM PT

CBC News

Paul and Zabeth Bayne say they never abused their baby girl and are fighting for the return of their three children.

A lawyer representing the B.C. government in a child seizure case in September 2007 had advised the return of two of three children to the Surrey parents, CBC News has learned.

The children — two boys, now aged four and three, and a 19-month-old baby girl — were taken by the Ministry of Children and Family Development because Paul and Zabeth Bayne were suspected of shaking the girl and causing a head injury.

The Baynes said their daughter’s head was accidentally injured by their second son tripping and landing over her body. The couple have been fighting to get their children back ever since.

The lawyer representing the children’s ministry had suggested the return of the two older boys to the parents because there was no evidence of harm done on the boys, according to documents obtained by CBC News on Friday.

Government lawyer Finn Jensen believed the case for holding the two boys would not hold up in court, and John Fitzsimmons, a community services manager, was aware of the lawyer’s position, according to a ministry correspondence dated July 14, 2008.

Supporters of the Baynes hold a weekly protest at B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell's Vancouver constituency office.Supporters of the Baynes hold a weekly protest at B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell’s Vancouver constituency office. (CBC)

“[A] medical report of November 2007, completed shortly after the two older children came into care, indicates that there was no evidence of harm of injury to the children,” the correspondence said.

“No new evidence has come to light, which would indicate a risk to these children,” it said.

Jensen’s opinion on the case was that “the director should consider a return of the two children to the parents.”

The two boys and the baby girl have been placed in foster care.

“The boys have been in four foster homes now; that is not a secure, loving environment,” Zabeth Bayne told CBC News Friday.

Kelly Gleeson, communications director of the Ministry of Children and Family Development, said Friday the matter is before the courts and “we will not be commenting.”

Supporters of the Baynes held a weekly protest Thursday morning at B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell’s constituency office in Vancouver, demanding the return of the three children to their parents.

B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell says his constituency assistants are following up on the Baynes' case with the children's ministry.B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell says his constituency assistants are following up on the Baynes’ case with the children’s ministry. (CBC)

Campbell said Friday he is not aware of the Baynes’ fight to get back their children.

“I understand these people, like most people, would like to have their children back,” Campbell said when asked by CBC News at a public event.

“My constituency assistants are following it up with the Ministry of Children and Family Development. I don’t have the details of the case. I’m glad to follow it up,” he said.

CBC News reported on Thursday the Baynes obtained internal documents from the children’s ministry that suggest their daughter likely suffers glutaric aciduria, which is often mistaken for child abuse.

Glutaric aciduria is a rare genetic disorder with varied symptoms, sometimes including bleeding and swelling of the brain.

The couple, who now work as night janitors, have begun a legal challenge against the ministry’s decision. But they said they likely won’t get their day in court until next year because of delays and backlogs in the court system.

With files from Kathy Tomlinson

11
Sep
09

Surrey Parents Fight For The Return Of Their Three Children

Surrey parents fight for return of 3 seized children

Last Updated: Thursday, March 5, 2009 | 9:40 PM PT

CBC News

Protesters converge at B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell's Vancouver constituency office on Thursday, urging the return of three children to their parents.

More than a dozen people held a peaceful protest outside B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell’s Vancouver constituency office Thursday, calling for the return of three children taken from their parents.

The children were seized in September 2007 by the Ministry of Children and Family Development because the Surrey couple were suspected of shaking their baby and causing a head injury.

CBC News is not naming the couple in order to protect the identity of the children — two boys aged four and three, and an 18-month-old baby girl.

“We’re being treated as criminals and we did nothing wrong,” the mother told CBC News.

The couple said they have been fighting to get back their children, who are now in foster care.

They said their daughter’s head was accidentally injured. Their second son “tripped and he landed over her body, and his head landed on her head,” the mother said.

This Surrey couple, who CBC decided not to name, say they never hurt their 18-month-old daughter.This Surrey couple, who CBC decided not to name, say they never hurt their 18-month-old daughter. (CBC)

The baby became very ill and was rushed to hospital by the parents.

They say they took the baby to hospital several more times and saw several doctors over a three-week period before a doctor at BC Children’s Hospital concluded someone had shaken her.

That prompted the Ministry of Children and Family Development to take away all three children, even though the RCMP investigated the allegations but decided no charges were warranted.

But social workers with the ministry maintained the parents were unfit to care for their children, referring to the father as a person who has a temper, gets stressed out when the kids cry and may have spanked them.

The dozen protesters said Thursday that parental rights are not protected in the province’s child-care system.

“To have people think you are guilty when you treasure your children, that is one of the worst accusations that anybody can say to a parent,” the mother said.

The couple consulted more than a dozen experts in Canada and the U.S. — including pediatricians and pathologists — who all concluded there was no evidence of inflicted injury, abuse and injury from shaking on the girl.

B.C. Children Minister Tom Christensen says social workers do not take chances with children's safety. B.C. Children Minister Tom Christensen says social workers do not take chances with children’s safety. (CBC)

“[My daughter] has absolutely no neck problems whatsoever and the doctors said … if you shook a baby with any force whatsoever you are going to damage the neck,” the father said.

Children and Family Development Minister Tom Christensen said Thursday that social workers do not take chances with children’s safety.

“There is nothing worse that could happen to somebody as a parent than their children being apprehended,” Christensen told CBC News.

“Having said that, I also know that our social workers don’t take these steps lightly. It’s why they only intervene where there is a concern about a child’s safety.”

The couple, who now work as night janitors, have begun a legal challenge against the ministry’s decision. But they said they likely won’t get their day in court until sometime next year, due to delays and backlogs in the court system.

“You are put in a position where you are forced to betray your children’s trust,” the mother said. “They rely on you for safety and security. We’ve been forced to betray that.”

09
Sep
09

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