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September 4, 2009 permalink

Hugh Nicholson, executive director of the Kawartha-Haliburton Children's Aid Society, has made an unusual boast. He has improved the welfare of children in his area by decreasing the number of children in his care. Mr Nicholson deserves praise for his achievement. A sidebar shows that Kingston and Hastings are problem areas, a fact long known to readers of these columns.



Keeping children with their families

"Families are the best place to raise children,"

Children in care:

Provincial average: one in 135

Northumberland: one in 230

Kawartha (including Peterborough): one in 162

Durham: one in 148

Kingston: one in 87

Hastings: one in 59

Local Children's Aid reduces the number of children in its care

Date: 2009-09-03, By Joel Wiebe

Fewer children are ending up as wards of the local Children's Aid Society (CAS) and that is a direct result of the organization's efforts over the last year, says executive director of CAS' Peterborough branch.

The local CAS has an average of one in 162 children in the community in its care, an improvement over one in 148 last year. Hugh Nicholson, executive director of the Kawartha-Haliburton Children's Aid Society , says that improvement is, in large part, a result of the organization making strides in two areas - helping families deal with problems and finding more homes for the children that do need to be removed from their families.

"Families are the best place to raise children," he says.

Investigations, he claims, are expensive and cause a lot of stress on families. By spending more time working with families, they can keep children in their home and improve their home life. If they feel the child is in immediate danger, they will take the child from the home.

"We both have a common interest in the safety of their children," adds Mr. Nicholson.

He says people have this idea of the CAS that its job is to go into people's homes and take their children away, an image Mr. Nicholson says they are trying to change.

Over the last five years, the organization has brought in some initiatives, like alternative dispute resolution, which helps families and case workers agree on common priorities and plans.

Taking a child from the home can mean a new town, new school, and new friends, a crisis Mr. Nicholson says they don't want to create in their lives.

In the cases where taking away children is needed, they try and get them adopted out or into foster homes so they can have the best care, rather than sending them to group homes.

Mr. Nicholson says the local agency is a leader in the province when it comes to getting children into homes by using permanent custody orders, a process similar to adoption. He figures 20 to 30 children will be adopted this year and an equal amount will find homes under the orders.

The recession has caused stress on families which Mr. Nicholson states ends up with a higher amount of child abuse. They've lowered the amount of children they have in care despite a 20 per cent increase in needs over the last couple months.

"I think we're doing a pretty good job," he adds.

Source: Metroland Media