Minister Mary McNeil and deputy minister Stephen Brown are to be commended for their work starting reform of the Ministry of Children and Family Development. Members of the autism community are genuinely thrilled with both appointments.
McNeil’s phoning the representative for children and youth, Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, to say “the war is over” showed common sense and showed she was putting children first. She has reformed reporting of child injury cases, knowing it might lead to embarrassing headlines, demonstrating she is more concerned with improving lives than with appearances.
Members of Families for Autism Intervention Resources (FAIR) met the minister and her senior staff June 2. We came away impressed with her courage, compassion, obvious caring, and competence.
Derek Hoare, a single father in Abbotsford with three children, two on the autism spectrum, has had his daughter Ayn taken by ministry staff. Reasons cited are her behaviours and a mistaken belief Derek is overburdened, despite letters of reference to the contrary by professionals involved with Ayn at home and school.
There is no evidence or accusation Derek is an unfit father. His other children remain with him. I have personally met Derek, and am talking with him on a daily basis. He is becoming a friend.
If there was ever a case that cried out for Minister McNeil’s skills and personal attention, this is it. The autism community is prepared to assist in any way possible.