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October 14, 2009 permalink
Dufferin children's aid executive director Trish Keachie has added her voice to the chorus of complaints over budget cuts    . It would be trivial for CAS to reduce its expenses by getting out of cases of unnecessary intervention. But that would require some serious management expertise, such as laying off staff and selling that monstrous palace used for offices for wasteful staff.
After participating in the process used to select the candidates before they get on the ballot, we can say that politicians depend on a loyal following of voters who have received monetary favors from them. People on the public payroll can be counted on to come out to nomination meetings. People who have had their children taken by CAS cannot. Dufferin MPP Sylvia Jones is giving her full support to increasing funding for children's aid.
Tuesday October 13 2009, By Adam Martin-Robbins
Unexpected provincial funding cuts have Dufferin Child and Family Services facing a $1.1 million budget shortfall — and that’s putting a strain on the local agency, says executive director Trish Keachie.
“It’s very serious for us and it’s very serious right across the province for many agencies,” said Keachie, noting 35 other Children’s Aid Societies (CAS) are also looking at deficits for the 2009-2010 fiscal year.
“This is happening at a time when times are tough and caseloads are increasing.”
Dufferin Child and Family Services (DCAFS) provides a wide range of services including assisting abused and neglected children, facilitating foster care, as well as offering mental health and developmental support for kids and families.
One major factor driving the deficit is the years the Ministry of Children and Youth Services chose to use in calculating the current budget, said Keachie.
“We had a balanced budget last year ... we were anticipating no increase this year and figured we could live with that,” she said. “They use the volume and activity from a few years ago; the two years they’re using for budgeting were a little bit lower.”
That budgeting approach combined with an unanticipated 10 per cent cap on infrastructure spending — which includes maintenance, administration and human resources costs — has made it unlikely Dufferin Child and Family Services (DCAFS) can balance the books, she said.
“That 10 per cent cap has really affected our budget position,” she said. “It’s not an issue of mismanagement, we’re being impacted by changes we had no control over.”
The problem is exacerbated, she said, by reforms to the child welfare system made by the province about four years ago. The changes have helped reduce the number of children admitted into the care of Children’s Aid Societies and increased the number of adoptions, she said, but they’ve also been expensive to implement.
“We’re a pretty lean organization, there’s not a lot of room to manoeuvre,” said Keachie. “The bottom line is, for this agency, we cannot cut that funding in this fiscal year or we would not be able to meet our child protection obligations,” she said.
DCAFS, along with 35 other agencies including Halton, Peel, Simcoe and Wellington, has applied for a Section 14 Review, to see if their budget allocations will be reconsidered.
In the past, Queen’s Park has “mitigated” deficits at the end of the year, said Keachie, but all indications are that’s not going to happen.
“The government is saying, repeatedly, there’s no more funding to come this year,” said Keachie. “We’re looking at a line of credit, which is a very serious decision for a board to make.”
Ministry officials did not respond to a request for comment by press time Friday morning.
Dufferin-Caledon Conservative MPP Sylvia Jones has taken up the agency’s cause.
Last week, she called on the Liberal government to address the concerns being raised by agencies across the province.
“There has never before been so many Children’s Aid Societies who are in crisis,” she said in a news release.
“They have legislated responsibility to provide front-line care for the most vulnerable children in this province. Cutting their budgets will inevitably mean a reduction in services for at-risk children.”
Keachie says DCAFS will do everything in its power to try to ensure that doesn’t happen.
“We want to be very clear. Our commitment is first and foremost to the children we serve — we have no intention of reducing services.”
Source: Orangeville Banner
Addendum: Add Jeanette Lewis to the crybaby list.
Ontario's most vulnerable children to be affected by government cut-backs
Children's Aid Societies receive less funding to provide services to children
TORONTO, Oct. 14 /CNW/ - Ontario's most vulnerable children and families, served by their local Children's Aid Societies (CASs), will experience the impact of funding cuts this fiscal year, unless the government honours its commitment to fund mandated services.
Under the Child and Family Services Act, Ontario's Children's Aid Societies have a unique mandate to protect children; investigate allegations of child abuse and neglect; provide guidance, care, prevention and adoption services.
Forty-nine CASs face overall funding shortfalls of $67 million, greatly affecting their capacity to deliver the services required by legislation. In addition to historic shortfalls not fully covered by the Province, child protection services are receiving $23 million less than last year but are expected to deliver the same level of mandated service. CASs have a statutory obligation to protect children and cannot waitlist or ration services when the government does not fulfill its statutory obligations.
CASs face shortfalls of up to 30% of costs. The agencies most severely affected include:
- York Region Children's Aid Society $7.3 million (16.2%)
- Children's Aid Society of Simcoe County $5.2 million (13%)
- London-Middlesex Children's Aid Society $3.9 million (6%)
- Durham Children's Aid Society $3.9 million (5.2%)
- Tikinagan Children & Family Services $3.9 million (9.2%)
- Payukotayno James & Hudson Bay Family Services $3.7 million (30.4%)
- Niagara Family and Children's Services $2.9 million (7.3%)
- Dilico Anishinabek Family Care $2.7 million (10%)
- Algoma Children's Aid Society $2.6 million (11.5%)
- Family & Children's Services of Guelph and Wellington County $2.1 million (10%)
- Native Child and Family Services of Toronto $1.5 million (9.5%)
Agencies in northern Ontario have received some of the largest cutbacks and are facing a collective shortfall of $16.9 million. Three agencies serving First Nations and Aboriginal communities in the north (Tikinagan, Dilico and Payukotano) face shortfalls of 9 to 30% of their budget. These agencies work with the most high-risk, challenged communities in Ontario and are being forced to limit services due to funding cut-backs.
In all areas of the province, agencies are contemplating cuts to core services including abuse prevention programs; programs to strengthen families; counselling services for families in crisis; court-ordered visits to children in foster and residential care; and collaborative programs with community partners to help families before they are in crisis.
Without sufficient funding, government is forcing CASs to break the rules for child abuse investigation and protection. For example, CASs will have difficulty responding to high-risk child abuse allegations within the mandated timelines; CASs will not be able to meet minimum mandatory standards of seeing children every month; case workers will be assessing the safety and well-being of children less frequently; children will not be able to visit their biological families as often since CASs will not be able to afford costs of court-ordered access visits.
"The government has said there is no more money for child welfare but services to protect children from abuse are not optional or subject to arbitrary reductions," said Jeanette Lewis, Executive Director of the Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies (OACAS). "According to the Child and Family Services Act, CASs must deliver child protection services, on behalf of the Government of Ontario, to vulnerable children and their families. Many agencies have gone into debt to pay for investigations, residential care, support and counseling for children. Boards should not have to use credit to deliver the government's services."
This year, many child welfare agencies have experienced increased child protection caseloads as families struggle with the current economic crisis, high levels of unemployment and increased reliance on Ontario Works. Child welfare agencies are required to provide services to children in need 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Some agencies report that by November they will not have the funds necessary to provide services to investigate abuse and neglect to children. . Other agencies will run out of money in January 2010.
"The government has made a choice to put vulnerable children at risk during a recession. People are losing jobs, and this means families are losing their homes and parents in high stress situations are unable to provide for their children, yet child protection services are cut," said Lewis.
The issue here is two-fold; there is insufficient funding for child protection services, and the complex funding model, used by the government to fund CASs, does not work equally across all parts of the province.
"The funding cut-backs threaten to destabilize the improvements we have made to child protection services and better outcomes for children and families we have achieved over the last few years," said Lewis. "Boards of Directors and management are put in the position of having to compromise service to meet budget requirements. As the voice of child welfare, OACAS takes the position that the safety of children is not negotiable."
For more information, visit www.oacas.org.
For further information: Marcelo Gomez-Wiuckstern, Director of Communications, (416) 987-9648, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.oacas.org; OR Contact your local CAS, Listing: www.oacas.org/childwelfare/locate.htm
ONTARIO ASSOCIATION OF CHILDREN'S AID SOCIETIES
Source: Canada News Wire