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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Alberta's foster child system under fire

Alberta's foster child system under fire

Since a 15-month-old boy from a foster home in southern Alberta was hospitalized earlier this month, questions have been raised regarding the conditions foster children face. RCMP are investigating the circumstances that led to the injury; no comments have been made regarding criminal charges. The foster program in Alberta did not receive much attention before this incident and the state in which it is run is certainly in need of review.

1 comment:

  1. Dear Mr. Eric Mathison,

    Your concept and depiction of those persons who access Ministry assistance for their children over-whelms me in its narrow view. Frankly, I find it quite difficult to address issues respectfully due to ignorance displayed; but suffice it to say I shall do my best and - possibly in attempt to enlighten - may better educate you and others who are mistaken about various issues which encompass Alberta's foster care system.

    First of all, let me begin by clarifying that I am not a member of the public who is of Native heritage, thus, no excuse can be placed upon view that might otherwise be attributed to a disgruntled "targeted ethnic group". In fact, I am a white, middle-class, professional person who works in the health-care and education sector. Yet, I, too, know the tragic challenges faced by scores of persons who are forced - not chose - as you so inadequately misrepresented fact, to relinquish their child in effort to secure funding and services for extraordinary needs. Truly, the greatest sacrifice that can ever befall a loving parent is to be placed in such a situation that he/she must 'choose' to forfeit their parentage in effort to allow the child opportunity to flourish. You insult not only Aboriginal groups with your limited foresight, but all Nationalities, Irish included!

    Furthermore, to declare abstinence and abortion as an option preferable to out of home placement of a child is ludicrous! You de-value the lives of many individuals who deserve love and protection and have every right to be born - as God intended - alongside all human-beings. What of families who produce a child in the union of love? A child who is immeasurably wanted, dreamed of, and planned for, but to everyone's shock is born with significant medical issues and delays... this occurring without any fault of the parents? What if the Ministry of Children's Services steps in offering financial support, but explains that in order to receive services, guardianship must be relinquished to the Ministry and an out of home placement secured? More concisely: "The kindest thing to do is surrender your child" so that he/she has hope of opportunity to live? That as a natural family, you will not be allowed the same level of services or funding available in foster care. Is that parent, too, deemed to love his/her child less because they are forced to perform the greatest sacrifice of their life; placing trust in 'expert' Representation that this stipulation is the sole way to secure their child's well-being?

    Shame on you, for you have crossed the line in your pretence to know the true nature of natural families reaching out in good faith to help their beloved child; in turn, many failed by far worse scenarios than had the Ministry not intervened with their archaic version of care! Before you intercede and declare that such a scenario must naturally be a unique blemish on the part of the Alberta Government, I can assure - respectfully - that this view represents numerous instances of similar tragic response to families who have born a child with medical and developmental needs. This, however, is not an Alberta dilemma alone, but one that is encountered across Canada, the United States and abroad.

    Forgive me if my attitude towards your misguided attitude is harsh. That is not my intention for I feel that it is only with clarity and without fear of the unknown that we can avert ignorance. That is not always easy to manage; especially so: While in the midst of commentary to you, Global News Edmonton displayed the Ottawa case of "Baby Penelope", the family of a child who - born with severe developmental disability - has needed to surrender guardianship to achieve out-of-home care where round the clock nurses are available for extraordinary care needs. Families are doubly plagued and injured by the indifference towards the very real difficulties associated with the birth or development of severe needs. Governments respond that funding is now available to assist, but limited resources exist in the daily challenges that arise. Very basic needs are unable to be met including ability to even maintain employment because aides are not available to provide care to the child so that a parent can achieve an income, nor is a parent able to attend the limitless appointments a child with medical needs must visit without fear of loss of employment. We need to address issues from a point of view that incorporates sensitivity and strategically incorporates direction towards Family-Centred Care where all individuals lives are valued, basic human rights honoured and respected.

    Yours sincerely,



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