The Children’s Aid Society of Hamilton is being accused of shutting down a foster home over the Easter Bunny.
Derek and Frances Baars have filed a court application alleging the Hamilton CAS violated their Charter Rights by closing down their foster home because the couple refused to tell the girls in their care that the Easter Bunny is real.
READ MORE: A bunny for Easter? Maybe not a great idea.
The couple, who now reside in Calgary, began taking care of two sisters, aged three and four, in December 2015.
The Baars, who call themselves devout Christians, say they told CAS that “they don’t celebrate Halloween and do not endorse Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny.”
But in February 2016, CAS support worker Tracey Lindsay allegedly told the Baars that the girls would be taken away, and their foster home permanently closed, if they refused to tell the girls that the Easter Bunny is real.
The girls were taken away March 4, and the Baars foster home was shut down.
“The Hamilton Children’s Aid Society needs to be held accountable for its misguided emphasis on a single, minor issue,” stated Calgary lawyer and Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms president John Carpay.
LISTEN: Derek Baars joins the Scott Thompson Show
“People can be good foster parents even if they refuse to say that the Easter Bunny is real, especially with the pressing shortage of foster parents which the Hamilton Children’s Aid Society itself has spoken about publicly,” continued Carpay.
READ MORE: These kids hate the Easter bunny
As Frances Baars explains it in her affidavit:
We had poured our lives into taking care of the girls. To have them suddenly ripped away from us was deeply painful. … It was the days after they left that the house felt empty without them. I lacked desire to do anything. As remains of their belongings kept popping up-we had so little time to pack the girls’ belongings that we weren’t able to collect everything-it finally struck me that they weren’t coming back. Several weeks later the girls’ worker stopped by to pick up their remaining belongings, including the scrapbooks I had made for the girls, which I had purposely held on to so I could finish the scrapbooks before sending them on. The scrapbooks were my final way of showing our love and care, and to provide them with reminders of all the good times we had together. A picture of the girls is still on our fridge, so we can remember the happy times we shared.
LISTEN: CHML’s Sara Cain interviews Dominic Verticchio, CAS of Hamilton
Dominic Verticchio, executive director of the Children’s Aid Society of Hamilton, said the decision to remove children from any foster home is not made lightly or without due process.
He said the organization expects foster parents to respect common customs and the traditions of the biological family.
“From an organizational perspective, we need to be cognizant and respectful, both of the beliefs of the foster parents and also the needs and customs of children in our care,” he said. “We consider children coming into our care to be on a temporary basis … and there should be a … very smooth transition back to their home from a foster placement.”
With regards to the couple’s court application, Verticchio said, “We’re prepared to mitigate this in any way. If it takes more discussion with the foster parent, absolutely. And if not, then we have to go through the process and see where it takes us.”