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August 8, 2008 permalink
Lying to the police is a crime. Lying to the public is not. Northumberland CAS executive director Greg Dulmage took advantage of this when he said: "The philosophy is to try to keep the child in his or her own home, a foster home or parent model homes, if possible. Only after that route is exhausted is the child placed into a group home, ... ". Mr Dulmage is avoiding the consequences of his own financial mismanagement by resigning as of the end of 2008. The budget deficit, $1.4 million on July 8, was minimized by Mr Dulmage today as only $430,000.
CAS chief refutes claims of poor budget planning
The Children's Aid Society (CAS) of Northumberland has been running deficits for years, says the head of a group home company who charges the agency should be able to budget better and not rely on the provincial government "bailouts."
However, local CAS executive director Greg Dulmage says that while it can "project" need, CAS has a mandate to protect children and can't predict what children will come into care and what their individual, specific needs will be.
In general, however, Mr. Dulmage said more children are coming into care requiring the outside resources of a residential group home setting. The philosophy is to try to keep the child in his or her own home, a foster home or parent model homes, if possible. Only after that route is exhausted is the child placed into a group home, and those outside resources are more expensive, he said. The bottom line is that both the child and the caregivers must be safe, Mr. Dulmage stressed.
Bob Connor of Connor Homes and his son Sean, who is second-vice-president of the Ontario Association of Residences Treating Youth, agree that there are more children with mental health issues such as those resulting from fetal alcohol syndrome or autism and who are developmentally handicapped. But an association study has found that there is an average of four placements of a child elsewhere before the child ends up needing the care provided by 24-hour staffing in a group home.
The local CAS isn't intervening early enough, Bob Connor said.
"They don't have a triage system so they can get the right placement.... By the time the child gets the right placement they require more services... and it's more expensive."
Sean O'Connor agreed with his father, saying the CAS has "no mechanism" to triage where the child should be placed.
Before the situation worsens, intervention and assessments should take place. And there should be line-by-line accounting of where the CAS's funding is being spent along the way, Sean O'Connor added.
The CAS has just undergone an in-depth service and financial review by the provincial government and the ministry has determined the children are being properly placed in group homes, Mr. Dulmage countered.
The agency is pursuing a Section 14 Review, or budget review, next month seeking funding to meet its $430,000 deficit for the year ending March, 2008, he said. The deficit is primarily due to purchasing these outside "group home" residential resources.
"The budget for children in care... is unpredictable," Mr. Dulmage Because children must be protected and that is the CAS mandate, there can be no waiting lists, he added.
Source: Northumberland Today