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.
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.