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Rally for Family Preservation
March 30, 2010 permalink
Children belong in families!
Attendance at this afternoon's rally to reinstate and protect the Children's Aid Society of Algoma's Family Preservation unit was better than it looked.
So says rally organizer Dawn Gauthier (shown).
While only about 25 people actually came out to rally at the cenotaph in front of the Sault Ste. Marie Court House, Gauthier said many others sent messages of support through e-mail, Facebook and by telephone.
Gauthier led an energetic and enthusiastic event, beginning with a letter she read from Sault MP Tony Martin.
"We are here to speak for the many who have not the freedom or the ability to lend their own voice to this outcry," she said. "This program has helped with many families by providing good supports, helping with teaching effective parenting skills and providing a voice within the system."
Gauthier's thoughts were echoed by others who took up the shiny gold loudspeaker but didn't identify themselves.
Several shouted that children belong in families - not foster care - and said the family preservation program did just that.
Gauthier said many who sent in their support couldn't be at the rally because they were afraid their participation might negatively affect the outcome of their custody cases currently before the courts.
Others couldn't be there, she said, because it would signify a conflict of interest.
And some couldn't attend because they were in class.
All said that the family preservation program was there when they needed it and they fear for families who will need it now that it's gone.
Gauthier everyone in attendance to write to Laurel C. Broten, Ontario's minister of child and youth services to tell her how important family preservation is to Saultites.
Source: SooToday (online only)
Addendum: A newspaper printed an opinion piece by the rally organizer.
CAS programs that protected at-risk children have been cut
FROM DAWN GAUTHIER, Parents for Children's Aid Society Family Preservation:I want to bring to your attention a very serious issue that is going to affect many families in a negative way. I am a parent who has been involved with the Children's Aid Society both as a child and as a parent.
As a child, I was removed from my home and my parents had to fight hard in court to have my brother and I returned. The workers who were involved overstepped their boundaries by doing things that were against the rules and it did have a negative impact in my life.
If Family Preservation had been there, I believe things would have been much better for my parents and me. As a parent involved with CAS, I am very thankful for Family Preservation and the many good workers who work that program.
They have been very supportive with what I have been going through with issues both involving the CAS and not. I am very, very thankful for them. Programs such as Family Preservation and Family Intervention work with families to prevent them for going into care, facilitates the strengthening of support systems for families, and assists with diminishing barriers to effective parenting. They also help with assessing and resolving issues that would prevent children from remaining in their home and provide intensive intervention to families by promoting a sense of belonging, nurturing, and implementation of effective strategies.
But due to a $1.1-million deficit at Children's Aid Society of Algoma, these programs will no longer be available. As of April 12, in the District of Algoma, CAS will lay off six workers and one supervisor who work in the Family Preservation program that helps at-risk children in "open child protection families." As well, in March 2011, our community lost the Family Intervention program. Losing these supports will have a very negative effect on our community as a whole. Besides more children being removed from their homes and placed into foster care, there will be many other community agencies affected by this. Family Preservation has worked closely with other agencies such as Algoma Family Services, Women In Crisis, and Ontario Works to help families have the supports they need and to help provide a better future for these families.
The ripple effect of these program cuts on our community will be outstanding in a negative way. The removal of these supports will create longer wait times for services needed, with more families falling through the cracks. I know, from experience, that in the long run, this will hurt the children that the society was designed to protect. These cutbacks will set back the work the society has been doing 10 to 15 years.
Not providing the funding that would keep open programs such as Family Preservation seems "shortsighted," on the part of the Ministry of Child and Youth Services. These cuts are in stark contrast to the message the Ministry of Child and Youth Services sent in 2006, when it passed a bill that required CAS to work with families to help them take better care of their children.
I really would like the media to bring this to the attention of the public and to Queen's Park. The people that CAS is involved with need these programs to continue. In order for money to be available for them to continue, the legislation needs to change on how funding is provided to the Children's Aid Society. This doesn't just affect the community that I live in but many more across the province.
We held a rally [recently] in Sault Ste Marie to show how much these programs are important and needed in the community.
[Editor's note: Jim Baraniuk, chief executive officer of the Children's Aid Society of Algoma District, points out that mechanisms now are in place to ensure against abuses by CAS workers. A family court judge determines whether or not the CAS has abused its power and families have their own lawyer to help ensure this.]
Source: Sault Ste Marie This Week