Cracks in Canada’s Foster Care System

They say the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence, but that isn’t necessarily true when you are talking about the child protective system of our neighbors to the north—Canada. We are Robert Raskin and Kathey Raskin, and the sad fact is, the US isn’t the only country that needs to overhaul its child protection agencies. While most of Europe and Australia take a “family welfare” approach to child protection that is geared toward reuniting families, Canada instead focuses on the welfare of the child, so they are quick to remove children and put them into care.


One Baby’s Story

For one Canadian baby who was born with opiates in his system, Canada’s system resulted in the child being placed in a foster care home for two years as the court case experienced delay after delay. The parents had many chances to turn their lives around to regain custody, but their issues were too deeply entrenched, leaving the baby to become very securely attached to its foster parents as the case dragged on. The child already is at risk for learning disabilities and behavioral disorders thanks to his opiate addiction, and now, thanks to the system tying him up in legal limbo, he risks attachment disorders as well.


Lasting Effects

In Ontario, children under six years old are not permitted to be in foster care for more than twelve months, and there is a very good reason for this. When a child this young is put in foster care, they may not have any memories of their biological family, which means the foster parents effectively become the only parents they have ever known. When they are ripped away from their foster parents, the negative effects can be lasting, and these include both attachment disorders such as attachment anxiety, regression, and undermining the child’s sense of security and ability to form bonds with others.


How Common is This Issue?

In 2011, there were at least 30,000 children in foster care in Canada. The majority of these children will have court hearings at some point to determine whether or not they will be returned to their parents or be placed for adoption. In some jurisdictions, cases like these are resolved in a week’s time, while in others cases can average 20 weeks. There have been 132 cases in the system for more than two year. If you ask us, Robert Raskin and Kathey Raskin, this is far too long when you consider the risk to the child and how much is at stake when it comes to the child’s future relationships.

Los Angeles Social Workers Face Trial

We are Kathleen Raskin and Robert Raskin, and we are dedicated to raising awareness of shortcomings and corruption in organizations that are responsible for protecting children. One case in Los Angeles has shocked us and many others to the core, and that is the tragic murder of little eight-year-old Gabriel Fernandez, who was savagely tortured to death by his mother and her boyfriend. When paramedics arrived at the scene, the boy’s mother claimed he had been roughhousing with siblings and had then fallen and struck his head, but the physical evidence painted a different picture—one of abject horror.


Red Flags Were Everywhere

Superior Court Judge Mary Lou Villar said, “red flags were everywhere,” because Gabriel’s injuries, his frequent absences from school, and the multiple calls his teacher made to child protective services made it clear that this child was in danger. The workers who stand accused of wrongdoing and their attorneys insist the case was closed before Gabriel was killed, but that is not much of a defense, as clearly there is no situation in which a case in which a child was being so viciously—and obviously—abused should have been closed in the first place.


The Charges

Four social workers who were responsible for protecting the child are now going to stand trial, and they are being charged with felony child abuse and falsifying documents. Gabriel’s mother and her boyfriend were indicted on murder charges in 2014, and they are currently awaiting trial, though the two have pleaded not guilty. Unlike the mother and boyfriend, however, there is a chance that the workers may not be punished for their complicity, as cases like these have been attempted before, but they typically are thrown out of court or there is a not guilty verdict.


Passing the Buck

Despite the fact that many officials failed this child, thus contributing to his death, no one seems willing to accept the blame. Social workers and sheriff’s deputies were all informed about Gabriel’s injuries on multiple occasions, and despite many visits to the home and investigations, no one stepped in to help this child, who had specifically asked his teacher if she could call workers on his behalf. She did, but no one came to the child’s rescue, and for that they need to be held responsible. We are Kathleen Raskin and Robert Raskin, and we are eager to see justice done.

CPS and Child Trafficking

Human trafficking in the United States brings in more money than illegal guns and drugs combined, and it is a business that is growing every day, sometimes with the help of so-called child protective services. To date over 1,000 convicted sex offenders in LA County alone have been approved to become foster parents, and that is just one city out of hundreds where this is a problem. There was a specific sex trafficking case in which it was discovered that an unbelievable half of all of the sexually abused children who were involved were in the system and under the state’s control during the time of their abuse. Of those children, most were never reported missing.

What You Need to Know

It has been rumored that children are being kidnapped by child protected services and then sold to wealthy pedophiles all over the world, and a big part of the reason not enough is being done to stop it is because there are many incredibly powerful and influential people involved and a great deal of money at stake. In the state of California, a prisoner will bring in approximately $48,000 per year in revenue, but each child who is brought into the foster care system will generate up to $1 million. There is more political motivation than anyone is willing to risk admitting, and that is just one of many reasons this atrocity is happening right under our noses in this country today.

Raids Turn up Victims

Although the states’ child protective service organizations are ostensibly there to protect kids from harm, the reality of the matter is that there have been many trafficking raids that have turned up victims who were wards of the state and had been removed from their homes by CPS, DHR, and other similar entities. Even when the state itself is not involved, pimps and other people who prey upon children find easy access to victims among those who are being neglected and abused in foster care. Because these kids have been removed from their homes, there may be nothing their parents can do to protect them, and in fact there parents may not even know where they are because the system has stripped them of their rights.

Can the System be Fixed?

There are many dedicated individuals and organizations who are working hard to fighting corruption and to put systems of checks and balances in place within these organizations that will reign in the corrupt social workers who have been recklessly allowed to wield their power over so many helpless families. There is legislature in place right now in many different states trying to achieve this very thing, and while you may be limited in how much effect you can directly have against these blatant abuses of power, researching these issues and voting accordingly is a great place to start. You can write letters to your governor and to others in power letting them know that this is important to you and you demand that something be done about it.

What Can You Do?

The best way you can protect your family from CPS is to know what to do if they show up at your door so that you can limit your interactions with them and lower your risk. The best way to deal with DHR and related organizations is to educate yourself ahead of time and to know your rights, because once they get their foot in the door it may be too late. In today’s litigious society, where so many people are just waiting to use government agencies and the courts for revenge, there have been too many cases where false reports have been filed for petty reasons that have nothing to do with the health and welfare of children. Don’t let your child become a statistic. Take steps to research the laws in your state today, and contact a lawyer if you fear that you may be at risk.

Are Kids Really Safe in Foster Care?

More than 250,000 children in the U.S. enter the foster care system every year, and this includes children who have been removed from loving homes due to false allegations and those who removed by overzealous and corrupt DHR representatives. Executive Director Tammi Stefano of the National Safe Child Coalition said, “The minute you call child protective services, you can rest assured that the investigation will not be done properly. Chances are the child will not be protected.” This is because cases of child abuse are criminal cases, and DHR workers are not law enforcement officials, nor are they qualified to investigate criminal cases.

Tragic Flaws in the System

There are many cases that tragically demonstrate that the children who are removed from allegedly abusive households are often put into abusive foster homes where they will be further abused. Former foster parents are currently in prison for everything from distributing child pornography to sexual abuse and even including cold-blooded murder. There have also been reports of DHR and CPS workers resigning rather than facing prosecution for the deaths of children who were removed from their homes and then handed over to their murderers. Until there is more accountability for DHR workers and they are finally stripped from the power they too often wield over helpless families, this will continue to happen to innocent parents and children.

Is There a Chance this Could Happen to Your Child?

That statistics speak for themselves: According to one report by the US Department of Health and Human Services’ Children’s Bureau Division, in 2012 in the state of Chicago alone, 171 children were abused while they were in the foster care system. This, of course, is just the reported incidents of abuse, and it’s only one year of many, and one state of many. The true incidences of abuse in foster care may never be able to be accurately reported, but they are likely to be much higher than what is known. One study claimed that approximately 28% of children are abused while in the foster care system. This number becomes even more tragic when you consider how many children are removed from their homes due to false allegations.

Why You Should Not Call DHR to Report a Crime

DHR workers are not law enforcement officers such as police or detectives, and they do not have the training or the qualifications. This has led to many serious mistakes that sometimes lead to abuse or even murder at the hands of the very foster parents who were entrusted with the child’s safety. In 2013 CPS took thousands of children away from their parents in Los Angeles, and 570 of these children were murdered while they were being held by the system. The system that is used to screen foster parents is flawed, and though there are many loving and safe foster homes, far too many child offenders and people who only take in children for a check still manage to slip through the cracks.

What Can You Do to Keep Your Child Safe from Harm?

If you suspect a child has been abused, then a serious crime has been committed against the child, and this crime needs to be investigated by qualified law enforcement officers before a child is removed from the home. If a DHR or CPS worker shows up at your house and wants to take your child due to suspected child abuse, demand to have a lawyer present before you speak to them, and do not let them into your home or let them interview your children unless your lawyer advises it. Your child’s safety and their life could depend on it.

Can I Check Your Credentials?

If DHR opens a case against you, many different individuals may be brought into your life, each of whom will have their own part in any decisions that are made for or against you. When a worker is hired by DHR, there is a process that they must first go through that is supposed to include a full background check and the verification of their credentials. As we have learned from the bizarre case of Angel Gieske, these actions, while required, do not always take place. When a DHR worker becomes involved in your lives, you have every right to look into their credentials, and indeed you should, as the people of the state of Tennessee learned the hard way.

The Angel Gieske Story

Who is Angel Gieske? She was a deeply disturbed individual who worked as a counselor with DHR in six different counties even though her credentials were fakes and she had no qualifications that would allow her to work with DHR at all, let along the doctorate credentials she was claiming. During the years that she was with DHR she defrauded Medicaid and illegally collected $864,000, but this was not the worst of the damage she caused to the people of Tennessee. Money can be repaid, but the damage this woman did to the families whose custody cases she was involved in can never be undone.

Families Torn Apart

Although multiple workers are involved in each individual case and Gieske herself did not have complete control over the outcome of any case, she was involved in DHR cases in which parental rights were terminated, and her unqualified opinions were given serious consideration during the decision-making process. Even today there are still parents that are fighting for their rights and to access to their children thanks to the damage this woman caused. People are quick to say that there “must be more to the story,” but the sad fact is the “more” that we are sometimes unaware of is corruption on the part of DHR workers.

Could this Happen to You?

One official admitted that no background check had been performed on Gieske, and he also admitted that the organization does not track how many families’ cases a worker is involved in, so we have no way of knowing how many lives were ruined because this woman decided to work in an organization where even the fully qualified were not doing their jobs. Her behavior went unchecked and unchallenged for years before she was caught, and who knows how many families were destroyed in the process? Because anyone can file a complaint with DHR for any reason, it is all too easy for an Angel Gieske to wreak havoc in anyone’s lives.

Don’t be the Next Victim

Anyone who wants to be a counselor for DHR needs to first be vetted, but obviously there are cracks in the system and a few sick individuals manage to slip through them. If anyone has the authority to make life-altering decisions regarding you and your family, make sure their credentials check out by contacting the agencies they are claiming to be affiliated with and verifying their information. Who knows how many other Angel Gieskes are out there still working within this deeply flawed system? The time it takes is minimal compared to the amount of time you could potentially be separated from your child if you don’t.

Scare Tactics that Social Workers Can Use Against You

Even the very best parents can be the recipients of an unwanted visit from DHR. If this has happened to you, you may have been subjected to any number of threats that made you fear for the safety and stability of your child. Millions of children are abused in foster care every year, and we have all heard about heartbreaking cases of parents having their children removed and placed into the foster system for no good reason. This is becoming an increasingly serious problem, and if a DHR caseworker has knocked on your door, you may be understandably upset, scared, and confused.  While it can be alarming to be told if you question someone’s authority they may take your child away and strip you of your rights, there are steps you can take to diffuse the situation before it escalates and ends in tragedy.

What Should You Do When DHR Shows Up?

Although child abuse is a very real and serious problem, millions of good and loving parents have been investigated by DHR without any evidence of abuse outside of allegations that could have been made by anyone and for any reason, including spite for imagined slights. If a DHR worker shows up at your house, take their visit seriously, but be sure to remain calm. Although your anger and fear may be justified, any acknowledgement of it can be taken as an act of hostility and used against you. Unless they have a warrant, you are not obligated to let a case worker into your house. However refusing them may make them more determined than ever to remove your child.

Do You Need an Attorney?

It is advisable for you to secure the services of an attorney who has experience not just complying with, but actively fighting against, DHR. It would be extremely expensive to have an attorney present every time you communicated with a social worker, but a lawyer will at the very least be able to provide you with guidelines and legal advice that can greatly reduce your chances of having your child removed from your home. It is best to keep your communication with the worker to the bare minimum, and whatever you do, even if you know you are innocent and are merely trying to explain, never say anything that could incriminate you.

Do You Have to Let Them Speak to Your Child?

DHR does not need your permission to speak to your child. They can legally interview your son or daughter at school or in another public place without your child, so it is best to teach your child to refuse to speak to any strangers including DHR caseworkers. If you refuse to cooperate they will make a note of it, and that alone could be used as “evidence” against you. To reduce your risk of having a worker claim that you refused to let them see your child in order to hide evidence of injuries, show your child or children to the worker through the window only, but do not open the door for them.

How DHR Benefits from Removing Your Child

DHR caseworkers believe they are doing what is best for the child, but their tendency to believe accusations without any evidence is far from being in children’s best interests. If these workers ran out of children to remove, their job security would be in jeopardy. The more children they take in, the more federal funding they receive, and the better they look in their own boss’s eyes. While these workers may seem friendly and helpful at first, once they have the information they are looking for they may quickly turn on you. Once they have grounds to remove your child, it can be very difficult—if not impossible—to regain custody. If DHR knows on your door, protect yourself and your children by making sure you know your rights.

Adoption is now Big Business!

There are a few social entities that come with a positive public connotation to them. Adoption is viewed as a process for those who elect to give back to the world while taking children to care for. It’s up there with what is considered to be one of the more humane acts of life, and there are countless cases where adoption not only saves a child’s life but is equally rewarding for the parent.
It concerns me that adoption has turned from such a beautiful gesture of warmth, love and community to what many would consider private enterprise. While it may sound that adoption is solely focused on the needs of society; pairing children who do not have parents with established adults capable of care, today, Adoption is a 13 billion dollar industry.

It seems that wherever there is a dollar to be made, close by you will find the justification behind the corruption fueling the billion dollar pipeline. In this case, how can we trust the motivation of the adoption industry? Parents want children, and in the law of supply and demand, the supplier must meet the demand to capitalize on the profit. For this reason alone, there has been a great increase in homes that are broken up and kids parceled out through the same system that originally vowed to honor and protect them.

You may have heard the adage “it takes a village to raise a child,” well it seems that the village needs to start protecting them. Certainly there are millions of children who benefit from being placed in a home that betters their situation, however, the motivations behind keeping the adoption industry running as what I would consider a full fledged business is morally sick and corrupt.

One search for “adoption corruption” and fingers (on the web) point to international practices and mentions some corrupt practices that relate to human trafficking and some other shady topics. However little to no mention of what is going on right here at home.

There are agencies, both domestic and international that have flawless ethics and do not relent in their standard to simply help bridge the gap between children in need and families who can help. However, the middle ground… The gray area that no one seems to discuss at large is what needs attention. Our families are turning into prey, by a corrupt justice and social system. We must stand up and let our voices be heard right now!