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Waterloo Staff Reduction
June 11, 2010 permalink
This is the second article announcing Waterloo CAS cutbacks this year, so it it hard to tell whether these are new cuts, or an attempt to get more attention from the same cuts.
Eleven positions cut at Family and Children’s Services of Waterloo Region
WATERLOO REGION — Eleven positions have been cut at Family and Children’s Services of Waterloo Region to help this agency deal with a $1.3-million deficit caused by provincial underfunding.
But Alison Scott, the agency’s executive director, said any further cuts would hinder its ability to protect the region’s most vulnerable children.
“We have cut to the bone in terms of our child-protection workers,” Scott said Thursday. “We have gone as far as we can without jeopardizing the children . . . We will not be cutting any more.”
These cuts follow last year’s elimination of 14 positions, all of which have been achieved through attrition. The agency employs about 500 people.
The good news, Scott said, is the agency received an additional $1.5 million from the province, but this one-time funding cannot go toward the $1.3-million deficit that has accumulated over the past three years. Last year’s deficit was $378,930.
That $1.5 million must go toward provincially mandated programs and the province’s “transformation agenda,” a new approach geared to keeping families intact with the provision of programs and support services, rather than taking children into care.
Scott said the province has finally recognized that this program is initially costly, but ultimately saves money with fewer children in care. Across the province, there has been a 20 per cent reduction in the number of court cases involving children in need of court protection, she said.
“In the long term, it (transformation agenda) will not only help children and their families, it will save more money,” Scott said.
The agency’s total budget is $46.5 million. The 11 positions were cut to help the agency live within its budget, while facing increased costs such as a negotiated two per cent salary increase for employees, she said.
Money in the budget cannot be used to pay off the deficit. The interest charges on that debt must come out of the agency’s budget, she said.
About 50 other Children’s Aid Societies across Ontario face deficits totalling $23 million, and Scott said there is a strong lobby movement geared to trying to convince the province to absorb that deficit.
Scott anticipates having a balanced budget this year and no more layoffs.
“We are breathing a big sigh of relief this year,” she said.
Last year, the number of new cases investigated by the agency rose by six per cent. Scott attributes that increase to the recession as job losses put a strain on families. Last year, the agency conducted 4,488 investigations.
All child-care agencies are mandated by law to see a child referred to them within 12 hours (which impacts the workloads of staff). Also, working toward keeping a family intact is more time-consuming for child-care workers than placing a child in a group or foster home, she said.
“We don’t have the ability to put a family on a waiting list. We have to see the families immediately,” she said.
Last year, the agency had an average of 526 children in care, with the numbers peaking to 549 in the summer. Scott also attributes that increase to the recession.
“The good news is there is more money. The bad news is it doesn’t get rid of the deficit” or the need to reduce 11 positions to keep within the budget, Scott said.
Source: The Record