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February 28, 2010 permalink
Poor Andrew Koster is complaining that Brant did not get any of the recent handouts to children's aid societies. His agency is still $600,000 short.
Here are some suggestions for Mr Koster. The article says: "In addition, in parts of Brant County and Six Nations, workers are now sent out in twos for the sake of safety. Again, the extra staff isn't funded". If CAS provided true help to families, instead of family death penalties, there would be no security requirements. Taking children from Rob Ferguson and Kalena Mallon including costs of investigation, apprehension, litigation, foster care and adoption must be running around a third of the deficit. Leaving the Fergusons and two other families alone would wipe out the deficit.
Brant CAS seeks deficit solution
The Brant CAS won't share in $23 million being doled out by the province to help cover deficits at children's aid societies.
And, with a deficit ranging from $600,000 to $700,000, the local agency is starting to worry, says executive director Andrew Koster.
"This is the most difficult time I've ever been executive director," Koster said this week.
He explained that the agency has already made $1 million in cuts.
The CAS also faces having to deal with paying contracted raises for union employees that are set to kick in with the new fiscal year.
"We've gone as low as we can," he said. "With this climate and this recession, I truly worry about our ability to keep kids safe next year."
And Koster knows about safety. He's been retained by New Brunswick and Manitoba to examine the death of children in care.
He said he finds a direct link between funding cutbacks and those deaths.
About half of the province's child protection agencies with high deficits are sharing in province's emergency funding.
Koster won't complain about help being offered to agencies in worst shape than Brant because "we've all been in that situation at one time or another."
But he said he is pained that proactive work being done locally isn't being recognized.
For instance, a program called family group decision-making is keeping families out of the court system and allowing them to decide what's best for a child. But the two CAS staffers who are running that program aren't funded by the government.
In addition, in parts of Brant County and Six Nations, workers are now sent out in twos for the sake of safety. Again, the extra staff isn't funded.
"In Brant County and other communities there's a growing Oxycontin problem," said Koster. "It's the drug of choice for many of our families."
That means workers can face unstable families and uncertain situations.
"I'm not prepared to reduce staff numbers and take the chance of a child or a staff member being hurt."
Brant MPP Dave Levac is working with the CAS and has been supportive, Koster said.
Levac said he isn't pleased about how the agency is being squeezed. "I regretfully say it's like rewarding bad behaviour and not rewarding good behaviour when we bail out agencies with a deficit."
He said that the Brant CAS is as fiscally responsible as it can be but it still came in with a 2.9% deficit on a $22.6- million budget.
"The government is working on this, trying to change how we're funding. And I'm lobbying for assistance for the CAS to see if Six Nations can become an independent CAS. That would help the budget."
The province tends to offer higher funding to aboriginal offices due to unemployment, drug use and crime issues.
Koster said that the Six Nations branch office has all the infrastructure in place to go out on its own.
"There's a director and 40 aboriginal staff in place. Our internal audits show they have the best scores in intake. They're very skilled professionals and we're very proud of the work they do."
With the outstanding deficit looming, Koster said his board is giving serious consideration to asking for a judicial review of the agency's situation.
The CAS is then given an opportunity to present its case to three superior court judges for an independent decision.
Source: Brantford Expositor