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June 27, 2008 permalink

We have lost track of the number of Ontario CAS executive directors crying about their funding cuts. Here is one from Algoma.



CAS Algoma has funding woes: Baraniuk

Executive director to speak at annual general meeting tonight

Posted By BY MARC CAPANCIONI, SPECIAL TO THE STAR, Updated June 26, 2008

The Children's Aid Society of Algoma is at a severe disadvantage in terms of money, according to the organization's executive director.

"Provincial funding doesn't work in the North," said Jim Baraniuk.

"The policy is set for one size fits all, but in the North, you may not have the resources (that southern Ontario does)."

At present, CAS Algoma receives provincial funds based on how much the organization got in 2003- 2004, plus a cost of living increase, he said.

But since then, there has been some economic downturn -- for example, in the forestry sector -- yet no changes have been made to the provincial government's funding formula.

When the economy is tanking, substance abuse and other social problems increase, and the CAS requires more funds, said Baraniuk.

"Whenever you look at the North, there's a problem with funding.

"In the North, you obviously have different needs," he added.

Baraniuk will speak about these issues, and others, at the society's annual general meeting tonight at the Art Gallery of Algoma.

Members of the public are welcome.

Anne Machowski-Smith, media spokesperson for the Ontario Ministry of Children and Youth Services said, "The funding formula is based in part on service volumes, and is designed to respond to changing needs of the local community.

"Our funding provides flexibility to CASs so they can use it for staffing and for helping children in a manner that meets the unique needs of each CAS," she said.

Machowski-Smith said that funding to CAS Algoma has increased by around $6.5 million -- 48 per cent -- since 2003-2004.

However, Baraniuk says there have been "huge" increases to his society's expenditures and ongoing services -- which went up 43.2 per cent -- since then.

The formula doesn't include additional costs for new services that are required by the government. "It's not a perfect system," he said.

The lack of a short-term assessment stabilization unit in Sault Ste. Marie is also a problem, said Baraniuk. Instead, children have to stay in the pediatrics unit of the Sault Area Hospital.

This a bad for children, their families and for the hospital, he said, adding that, unlike the Sault, both Sudbury and Thunder Bay have proper facilities.

While there are challenges, Baraniuk will also address the successes of CAS Algoma as well.

"It's (also) a time to identify what we've accomplished over the last year," he said.

Over the past three years, the number of tutors working with students at CAS Algoma has increased from 12 to 33.

The number of youth scholarships -- made available by donations and fundraisers -- has also risen, from 12 to 20.

There are more things to be happy about, said Baraniuk.

The society has expanded its relationships with other agencies and developed new foster programs, services and protocols.

For example, CAS Algoma has established an alternative dispute resolution process called family group decision-making.

"Everyone gets together and they try to reach an agreement (instead of) bringing the children through the court system," said Baraniuk.

Source: Sault Star