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Fostering Confusion

Ministry of Community and Social Services

Date: 2008

Foster

Ms. C called the Ombudsman’s Office at her wit’s end, after a decade-long battle with a children’s aid society (CAS).

In 1992, she became a foster parent for two brothers, both with special needs, aged 1 and 2.

The CAS which placed the boys with her paid her the standard foster parent fee for their care.But in January 1998, Ms. C received a letter from the CAS stating that the legal custody of the boys had been transferred to her – therefore, the boys were discharged from CAS care and she would no longer receive payments for being a foster parent.

Ms. C was stunned – she said there had been no such custody order and she was not the boys’ legal parent.

Her repeated complaints to the CAS and Ministry of Community and Social Services went unheard; meanwhile, she continued to care for the boys, not wanting to abandon them.

Our investigation discovered the CAS had done an independent review of the case and in 2006 had offered Ms. C a settlement of $10,000, which she rejected.

We interviewed several ministry staff and pressed for some documentation of their position that the woman had been given legal custody of the boys.

The Ministry undertook a six-month mediation process, during which it offered the woman $7,800, also rejected.

After further discussions with our Office, the Ministry advised it was considering compensating the woman for caring for the boys all these years, at the normal rate the CAS would have paid her as a foster parent.

In December 2007, it offered Ms. C full compensation in the amount of $184,299.