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Fear of CAS

February 17, 2010 permalink

Kawartha-Haliburton Children's Aid is cutting compensation to foster homes. The press article below reports that the foster parents "feared reprimand if they went public with their concerns". Another interesting point in the article, it's all about the money, for both CAS and the fosters. The relation between CAS and foster parent is that between buyer and seller, or employer and employee, but with a generous supply of treachery and mistrust. In the event a foster parent develops a true parental love for a child, CAS will take advantage by finding a reason to reduce that parent's compensation. In another part of Ontario, a foster couple that fell in love with their foster daughter was offered the chance to adopt her. They agreed. As soon as they agreed, the foster payments stopped. The adoption was never completed, and the girl reached age of majority still in the foster home. While the CAS suspended payments, the agency still billed the province for her care.



Compensation changes worry some foster parents

Posted By GALEN EAGLE , EXAMINER STAFF WRITER, Posted January 22, 2010

Changes in the way the Kawartha-Haliburton Children's Aid Society compensate foster parents has sparked an angry outcry.

The agency told foster parents in December it planned to revamp its rate system, changing how it would pay foster parents for their expenses in caring for foster children.

During an information session earlier this month, however, the agency's plan was met with strong opposition.

Foster parents are characterizing the change as a direct funding cut that would make it increasingly difficult to care for children.

One foster parent called it a "slap in the face" to experienced caregivers. Another said her reduced pay would cause "devastation" for the children under her care.

The Kawartha-Haliburton Children's Aid Society says the changes would not reduce the overall funding given to foster parents. Its intention is to introduce a more efficient, goal-orientated system, rewarding foster parents for the goals they achieve with children, the agency says.

"There's no intent whatsoever to reduce the overall money that we are putting into supporting foster parents, we just want to use it more wisely," CAS executive director Hugh Nicholson said.

"What we want to do is develop a rate system that reinforces and rewards outcomes achieved with children in care and the efforts put into achieving those outcomes."

Currently, foster parents are paid on a sliding scale based on the neediness of the children in their care. Foster parents can upgrade their skills enabling them to accept children with higher needs.

Foster children are currently labelled into six or seven categories based on the type of care they require.

The agency wants to move away from labelling children, resource supervisor Marion Duguid explains.

"Right now we've had up to six or seven levels that foster parents could receive for a child. It makes for a cumbersome, inconsistent system," she said.

"There was a lot of focus on how difficult a child may be. Children ended up being labelled. We wanted to move towards better outcomes for children and focusing on the work a foster parent is doing with a foster child."

Under the new system, foster homes will fall under three categories -- regular, specialized or treatment.

Each home will be undergoing an assessment in the following weeks, Duguid said.

As a result, some foster parents might see a dip in their rates while others might see an increase, she said.

"Overall, it's going to equal out the same," she said.

The Examinerspoke to three experienced foster parents who expect to have their rates cut. Each said they feared reprimand if they went public with their concerns and would only talk on a condition of anonymity.

We have labelled them foster parents A, B and C.

Despite the agency's claims, the new changes will slash the rates paid to many foster homes, foster parent A said.

"I wouldn't say we are being cut, we are being sliced and diced," she said, the anger apparent in her voice. "We are going to get the shells from the peanuts."

After nearly 30 years of raising foster children and upgrading her accreditations, foster parent A fears she will lose everything she has worked towards.

"It has taken me 20 some years to get to the level I am by taking all the courses," she said. "In one swoop I'm back to where I started."

The children under her care are going to have to forgo the standard of living they have maintained in the past, she said.

"They come in and they slash (the rates) down to poverty level, how are we supposed to look after the children the way we have been?" she said. "There won't be any money for little extras."

Foster parent B, who fosters four boys ages 11 to 17, said her children will take a financial hit under the new system.

"I think this is definitely a money-saving technique," she said. "We cannot manage with the amount we are given for these boys. We have to use our own money to be able to send the boys off to school looking properly dressed."

Duguid said she understood how some foster families would see the new system as a rate cut, but those who put in the work will benefit with rate increases, she said. All training foster parents have achieved will still be recognized, she added.

"I really view this as an opportunity to recognize foster parents for the hard work that they are doing with children," she said. "This will be an opportunity for them to apply what they have learned."

But foster parents should not get into fostering looking to make money, she said.

"One of the very first things we tell people is this is not to be regarded as an income. Any funds they receive are specifically for the children," she said.

No foster parent with a right mind gets involved to make money, retorted foster parent C.

Predominantly raising troubled teens, she said the rates rarely take into consideration the many costs associated with raising teenagers.

"Teenagers, they break things, they steal things and I don't believe we are compensated enough," she said.

Her rates will drop $11 per day, per child under the new system, she said.

The revamped rate system was set to take effect Feb. 1, but was pushed back one month after a backlash from foster parents.

"When people have issues, we do listen to them. That's why we are taking the extra month," Nicholson said. "We have listened to them and we are now sitting down saying how can we make this a little bit smoother."

Nonetheless, the new changes will become reality, he said.

"Our major goal is outcomes for children. That's what we're all here for," he said.

The initial implementation is going to be the biggest challenge, as foster parents grapple with change, Duguid said.

Once the system is in place, however, Duguid anticipates foster parents will embrace it.

"I do believe it will be seen as the opportunity that it is," she said.

Foster parent B said the agency will face an uphill battle trying to sell the new system.

"Experienced foster parents are looking at this like a slap in the face," she said.

Foster parent C said she recently refused to take in a child, something she hasn't done in the past.

"I'm just feeling angry and so is every other foster parent," she said.

Most foster parents will either have to dig deeper into their own pockets or turn away children who desperately need their care, foster parent A said.

"(CAS) counts on you not saying 'I quit,'" she said. "Because you care for the child, they count on the fact you're not going to walk away."

Source: Peterborough Examiner
pointed out by John Dunn