Take Back Mother's Day
Posted May 7, 2006
For most Canadians, Mothers Day is a time when families honour their mothers hard work. But for many of low income families find that on Mothers Day, peace and joy is in very short supply, especially now that more than 30,000 of their youngsters languish in foster homes.
We did not lose our children because of abuse, rather we lost our children because of poverty, lack of affordable adequate housing, being single, being young, having a child with special needs, being in recovery from substance abuse issues, having survived an abusive partner, or having worked in the Adult Entertainment Industry.
Silenced for decades by shame and guilt, we suffered alone with our grief, believing that we were the only ones. Now we find that we are not alone. Mothers Day began as a day to honor the public activism of mothers. It began in 1870 because mothers declared that they would not lose their children as casualties of war.
On Sunday May 14th 2006, let's Take Back Mothers Day" by joining with Mothers across Toronto as we rally in front of the Childrens Aid Society at 15 Huntley Street at 2:00pm to demand:
Since the Mike Harris cutbacks to social assistance payments more and more mothers are in precarious financial circumstances often finding themselves unable to afford their hydro, gas, telephone and other necessities. By not being able to afford these necessities the Childrens Aid Society can intervene and remove the child, citing neglect".
Cutbacks in social programs particularly in the area of housing have led to shortages of affordable housing. A recent study by the Childrens Aid Society of Toronto found that in the year 2000, housing was a factor in one in five cases where children were taken in care a dramatic 60% increase over a similar study in 1992. They also found that lack of adequate housing caused a delay in the return of children to their parents in more than 11% of cases.
In cases where their children are taken into care, parents lose their child benefits forcing them to move into smaller apartments or rooms inadequate for living with their children. This creates a catch 22 system where in order for a mother to get her children back she must obtain proper living arrangements that she cannot afford without custody of her children. Thus, it becomes extremely difficult for low income mothers to get their children back once their children are taken into care. Imagine instead a system that worked in the best interest of the children and their mothers instead of a system that perpetrates a cycle of poverty and foster care.
Women with disabilities may find themselves under the scrutiny of Childrens Aid Society by virtue of their disability alone. Once scrutinized, it may be difficult to remove oneself from the child protection system. In some cases, women have contacted the Childrens Aid Society for support and assistance with parenting, only to find themselves the subject of an investigation. Other women are reported to the authority during pregnancy and have to fight to prevent the removal of their newborn from their care solely because the authority believes their disability prevents them from being able to parent. Other women, perhaps because of vulnerabilities caused by disability (a tendency to defer to authority, for instance), enter into what they believe to be "voluntary" agreements with Childrens Aid Society only to find those voluntary arrangements used against them later by the same officials.
Many women experiencing substance abuse issues or mood disorders are often hesitant to seek treatment as they fear that in doing so they may lose their children.
Sex workers (dancers, escorts, dominants, phone sex operators), are also at risk of losing their children due to their profession. Even though it is NOT illegal to be a sex worker in Canada, the Childrens Aid workers have discretionary powers for apprehending children of women working in the sex industry. This means that if a CAS worker objects to the mothers profession based on their own personal moral values, her children can be apprehended and taken into care regardless of whether theyve experienced any actual abuse.
Furthermore, the number of children who have been taken into temporary custody as a result of witnessing their mothers being assaulted increased by at least 870% (no that is not a typo) between 1993-1998. With limited income supports, affordable regulated childcare, affordable housing, and emergency shelters operating at full capacity, there are few options for women who are being assaulted and abused, leaving them and their children at risk of continued violence, poverty and involvement with the Childrens Aid Society. Thus, the shortages in affordable housing and emergency shelters are closely linked to the number of children who are victims of prolonged violence and involvement with the Childrens Aid Society.
THIS MOTHERS DAY LETS STAND UP FOR WOMEN AND THEIR CHILDREN AND TAKE BACK MOTHERS DAY!
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