Wednesday, July 29, 2009

FIA Steering Committee Meeting Minutes - Friday July 24, 2009

*Here are the meeting minutes from FIA’s meeting with the Ontario Ministry of Child and Youth Services. The purpose of this meeting was to share some of our concerns and ask a few technical questions before the meeting with Deb Matthews on Tuesday, July 28.*

FIA Meeting with Ministry of Children & Youth Services
July 24th, 2009 – 1pm
In attendance:
Sally McGowan – Director of Client Services
Gerrard Pezzot – Client Services
FIA representatives – Christine, Ellen, David, Denise, Karyn (minutes)

Sally McGowan:
More information on where things are at both with Imagine and with the solution. How the ministry is supporting the trustee. They understand how difficult this is for us and for all the families.
Introduction of the steering committee and what we are.
Background information on why we have chosen international adoption – the importance of this situation, lives of vulnerable children are at stake.
Read our statement: Asking that all our families are able to complete their adoptions. An Ontario licensed agency should be a safe agency. We are asking for the ministry’s solution to this problem.
Presentation of agenda/questions. Not exhaustive but representational of the questions out there.
We are not experts in this – we are looking to the ministry for guidance.
The ministry’s goal is to work on a plan that the trustee has. Their objective is an attempt to facilitate/implement a plan that has the least disruption to families. She cannot promise that this will look the same for all families.
She can’t guarantee anything.
Ethiopian government accreditation: Ethiopia must accredit agencies here in Ontario. The ministry doesn’t play a role in that. Trying to get information around this accreditation – they understand there is a moratorium on any new accreditation by the Ethiopian government. This will be critical to the development of a plan going forward.
The government is expediting visas and the BDO rep in Ethiopia is assisting those referred families and families awaiting court dates.
They can’t commit to all families having their adoptions completed.
People have come forward offering their services as a licensing route.

Can the ministry act as our licensee?
IA is still licensed. There is no precedent for ministry to act as our licensee but she is willing to take that suggestion as an option. Must see where the licensee sits before they investigate that.
MOWA - Is someone managing that relationship so they don’t pull the license?
Not a provincial matter – federal government has jurisdiction – CIC?
Are you considering the relationship beyond the referred children?
Absolutely. They understand the situations of all files – HRSDC is assisting them in this. Mr.Giesberg (spelling? )is also assisting in this area.
BDO is considering proposals? Why are we submitting proposals to BDO and not the ministry?
BDO is the licensee so they manage the day to day operations of the agency but are also thinking about the future of the agency. The ministry will receive any information we offer but they don’t guarantee anything.
St. Anne’s – What is the government doing to help these families?
Trying to gain an understanding of the relations between all the branches. This is a priority for them at this time and they are working on it. This is a full time job for them right now.
The government is aware of all the programs. Seeking clarity in all these countries – Ghana, Ecuador, Ethiopia, etc. – and the answers will be included in the plan that BDO puts forth.
What should we be asking the government?
We as FIA don’t have access to the information we need – ie. Client lists/ accurate numbers and where they are in the process. Can we get that information?
The ministry has started compiling that information but don’t have anything conclusive. It’s a moving target as they don’t have conclusive numbers. They will give that information when they have it.
Action plan. What is the timeline for this to be presented to us?
The ministry believes it will be soon. Trustee is working on it and will present that to the ministry. The meeting on the 30th will be BDO speaking about the bankruptcy – not about an action plan. This is the legal responsibility of the trustee. Only after that is done will a future plan be presented.
Christine: Why is the information so hard to come by?
Files outside Ontario are not accessed by this ministry. The bankruptcy has come as a surprise to everyone involved – everyone is playing a catch up game and educating themselves on all the information necessary to move forward.
Denise: What about families who have been matched but not referred?
40 children combined in two transition homes. Court dates imminent for some families. Matched children sent back to orphanages? Unknown. St.Ann’s: Dr.Pelassio is waiting for Sue’s direction. The ministry will take that concern away and investigate for us.
David: Where are our files?
Files are secured. BDO has files that were in IA offices. Ministry has copies of Ontario files. We should ask this at the BDO meeting.
Files are portable and can be transferred between agencies/country programs etc. Additional information may be required but home studies etc. will remain valid.
David: What are the goals of the meeting between the provincial and federal governments?
Information sharing between provinces and ministries.
Christine: Would the government offer their support of a plan by families to take IA out of bankruptcy?
At this point they are considering all options so, yes.
Ellen: Children’s Bridge approached the ministry with the offer of assistance – why were they turned down?
At the time, everything was new and hectic. The ministry knows that BDO has been approached by many organizations including Children’s Bridge and Mission of Tears. So it’s a matter of accreditation. All options are being considered by the trustee.
Ellen: Is the accreditation from Ethiopia currently at risk?
At this point, there is no reason to believe that.
This is a very complex issue. Involves many branches working together.
Ellen: Is keeping IA intact not the easiest solution?
Ministry is educating themselves on that possibility - has asked BDO to shed light on that possibility with regards to bankruptcy law etc.
Christine: IA structure is still in place with the exception of Sue and Board of Directors. How much does the license hinge on Sue?
Gave us the licensing guidelines to review. One of the guidelines is that the director demonstrates that he/she has expertise and knowledge and understands the process of international adoption.
Would the government expedite that process for us?
Hypothetically, yes or they are exploring all options.
Do you have a licensing department?
Can we meet with them?
Best course of action is to hear from BDO first. It wouldn’t be helpful to us at this point.
Ellen: If BDO doesn’t come forth with a plan, is it over for us? How can we assist? How can we be involved?
Have a conversation with Sue Taves about that. The ministry was let her know that they recommended us to speak to her.
Christine: Once BDO’s work is done, does the license dissolve?
There needs to be an entity to license so depending on what the plan is, the decisions on the license will vary. To comment on this before having seen a plan, is too difficult. They understand that time is of the essence, but due diligence is essential right now.
Denise: Post July 3oth – what is the timeline?
No timeline at this point to present a proposal. It is their priority but there is no date at this time.
Impressed with how we have presented ourselves. Will post any new information on the website and has set up the hotline for us.
Wrap up. Our primary concern is not IA – it is ensuring that all families are matched with a child and the children brought home. We thank you for your time and all the work you are doing on this for us. What process can we put in place to receive your responses to our questions? Ellen is the primary point of contact for the ministry.
Perhaps the minister will answer some of these questions on Tue

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