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CAS Cutback (Maybe)

October 28, 2010 permalink

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Enclosed are two articles from the London Free Press on the funding crisis of London Children's Aid. Between them is a reply by Minister of Child and Youth Services Laurel Broten. She says she is cutting back children's aid by moving 25% of the children to permanent homes. If most of these children are going to be repatriated, that is good news. But note that in this area public statements are sometimes the opposite of private actions.



CAS hopeful crisis can be averted

CHILDREN'S AID SOCIETY: London agency has projected it will run out of cash by January, jeopardizing the care of 885 children

With the fate of 885 children in the balance and its funding soon to run out, the local Children's Aid Society will meet today with provincial officials who control the purse strings.

That meeting comes as the political stakes were raised this week when NDP leader Andrea Horwath accused the Dalton McGuinty government of trying to hide a secret plan to gut the agency and cast out one-quarter of the kids in its care.

"Can the Premier tell us, what are the children at risk and the families in crisis supposed to do? Where are they supposed to go for help?" Horwath asked Tuesday in the legislature.

The NDP requested the government disclose a plan to cut 25% from the The Children's Aid Society of London & Middlesex, which already projects a $4.6-million deficit and expects to run out of cash in January.

The government instead provided a budget document in which all but the current year was whited-out.

"Why won't the minister disclose full details of the proposal she has for slashing programs for at-risk children and youth in London-Middlesex?," Horwath asked Youth and Children's Services Minister Laurel Broten.

Broten ignored the questions about London, instead defending a province-wide effort to make Children's Aid services more sustainable.

"We're absolutely committed to making sure that our services remain steady and stable for the children and families that need them," she said.

What that will mean for London may become apparent today when ministry officials meet with the agency's board and senior management.

Earlier this month Broten fired Huron-Perth CAS executive director Tom Knight and dissolved the board of directors after they announced the agency would lay off 125 staff and close Dec. 15 due to a lack of funds.

Officials in London were optimistic Tuesday the resolution here would be positive.

The London agency, with a $70-million budget, is the fifth largest CAS in Ontario. Earlier this year it said it would close the last of its three group homes, a move staff there said would abandon children who are so troubled they aren't taken in by foster parents.

Eleven Children's Aid Societies have asked a court to order the province to pay tens of millions of dollars they say is needed to keep their doors open, a case expected to hit the courts in late November or early December.

Source: London Free Press

UNLESS otherwise noted, these letters are to be considered unedited. The opinions expressed in the letters and comments are those of the writers and not of The London Free Press.


Minister clarifies stance with Children's Aid Society

Your Oct. 27 article CAS hopeful crisis can be averted doesn't tell the full story of our support for the London CAS and kids across Ontario.

The safety and protection of children and youth served by Ontario's children's aid societies is a responsibility our government takes seriously. During the past decade, our investments in the agencies have risen from $500 million to $1.4 billion.

The London-Middlesex CAS has seen a funding increase of nearly 36%, to more than $63 million. The agency received a funding increase of $530,000 in the last year alone. My ministry has been working closely with the London-Middlesex CAS and others across the province to best serve kids and families within their available budget.

The 25% reduction your article references is not related to funding. It is about reducing the number of kids in care, and moving them into permanent, stable homes. We know a permanent home provides kids with the best opportunity to succeed and reach their potential. We are seeing progress: across Ontario, fewer kids are coming into care and more kids are getting a chance to succeed in permanent homes.

The Commission to Promote Sustainable Child Welfare, which we established last year to improve the system, has had more than 2,000 conversations with CAS, foster parents, kids, and front line staff. They are bringing forward creative solutions and recommendations to improve outcomes for kids, including improvements to the funding formula.

We are committed to continuing to work with local CAS and to making sure children are protected.

Source: London Free Press

CAS ‘optimistic’ despite $4.6M shortfall

After a long day of meetings with provincial officials, the local Children's Aid Society is "optimistic and hopeful" about it's future.

The Children's Aid Society of London and Middlesex is projecting a $4.6-million deficit and expects to run out of money in January if something isn't done to help.

That announcement earlier this month came on the heels of the Huron Perth CAS board being dissolved and the executive director fired after that agency said it would lay off 125 staff and close Dec. 15 due to lack of funds.

"It absolutely will not go the way Huron Perth went," said Pat Finch, the communications director of the London and Middlesex CAS.

"Today was a great beginning. We're going to have a follow-up next week to determine what the next steps are."

Both CAS and provincial officials with the ministry of children and youth services want to mitigate any impact on children and families who are involved with the CAS.

"We will not put any children at risk in our community," Finch said.

Just how to make up the $4.6-million budget shortfall will be talked about in future meetings with the ministry, she added.

"This was a good first meeting," Finch said.

The Wednesday meeting came as NDP leader Andrea Horwath accused the province of trying to hide a secret plan to gut Children's Aid Societies and to cast out about one-quarter of the kids in its care.

The London agency is the fifth largest in the province.

Source: London Free Press