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Untimely uprootment of special needs children by social workers

BC Ministry of Children and Families shows dark side

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

SURREY, British Columbia - Within weeks of receiving a certificate of recognition from the B.C. Ministry for Children and Families for her 36 years service as foster parent, Anna Draayers (66) and her husband Bert (71) were forced to surrender the last two special needs children (10 and 12) they had in their care for for nearly ten years. Social workers claimed the two girls with little notice just before Christmas 1999. Since then the children already have been moved once. The Draayers want the children back and since have launched an appeal.

In their battle with the government, the Draayers have hired a lawyer who herself once was employed as a social worker and who plans to argue that the removal of Draayers' two foster girls amounts to a violation of the childrens’ rights. The lawyer also will represent the Draayers during a rare tribunal procedure, the highest level of the complaint process for clients of the ministry.

The Draayers took the two girls in ten years ago along with their older brother and sister when the ministry had difficulties placing the four as a group in one family. During their foster care career, the Draayers gave a home to about fifty children one time or another of whom many continue to keep in touch.

Many of the children, including six the Draayers adopted as their own, had special needs such as the last two who were born with fetal alcohol syndrome. To cope with the demands of such special needs, Anna Draayers followed a series of workshops and courses. She took in her first foster child after losing a baby, now 36 years ago. When the first foster child was moved elsewhere by the ministry, the Draayers took in another one to compensate for their new loss.

Realizing they were getting older, the Draayers approached the ministry to discuss a contingency plan involving their daughter who lives nearby should they get ill or the demand on them too much to carry on. Instead, they became embroiled in a pre-Christmas controversy which generated media headlines across the province.

When the Draayers started taking phone calls from others with similar experiences with the ministry’s bureaucracy, they realized their battle was not just theirs but reflective of a system that seems to have lost its way. To help defray costs, the Draayers have opened a trust account for donations.