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Under-Funded, Under-Protected

August 31, 2011 permalink

According to today's article, CAS was under-funded in the past, needs better funding in the future and its directors need protection from liability. In addition, CAS wants to extend its authority over children from age 16 to age 18.

Seven major-party candidates in October's provincial election attended an event put on by Durham CAS and its executive director Wanda Secord. It's called an open house, but CAS took the precaution of not announcing the event to the public, thereby avoiding the real voice of the people being heard with a rally outside. One foster girl, Wendy Hayes, spoke of improvements in her life as the result of CAS taking her from her mother. When it suits their purposes, CAS shamelessly defies the Child and Family Services Act by publishing the name of a foster child.

The reporter presents only the CAS side. She did not get the views of the politicians or clients, aside from the one selected by CAS. There was no mention of how CAS overspending got them $3.3 million in debt, or what grievances place the directors in legal jeopardy.



CAS appeals to local candidates

Mike Shields and Maret Sadem-Thompson
Several local provincial candidates recently attended an open house for Durham CAS. Seen here is Oshawa NDP candidate Mike Shields and Oshawa-Whitby NDP candidate Maret Sadem-Thompson.

For Durham Children’s Aid Society (CAS) the well being of children comes first.

This was the message the society wanted to put forth during a recent open house for local provincial candidates in an attempt to lobby for more support.

With the provincial election just a couple months away on Oct. 6, Durham CAS board members, employees and the like wanted to highlight what the society was about and just how political support could help the society reach its fullest potential.

Local candidates NDP Mike Shields, incumbent Conservative Jerry Ouellette, Oshawa-Whitby NDP candidate Maret Sadem-Thompson, Durham NDP candidate James Terry, Durham Liberal Candidate Betty Somerville, Liberal Candidate for Pickering Scarborough East Tracy MacCharles and a representative from Oshawa-Whitby incumbent Christine Elliott’s office were all on hand to listen to what several presenters had to say as well as take a tour of the facility, located just off of Airport Boulevard in Oshawa.

Those involved with Durham CAS are hoping the organization will be on the minds of politicians when they begin to campaign, says Executive Director Wanda Secord.

“The well-being of our children is a community responsibility. Child welfare should not be seen as a marginalized service,” she says. “We all work together to provide a healthy community.”

Secord outlined several areas where the society could be improved both on the local level and provincially.

In Durham, the society is still carting a $3.3 million historical deficit, which they have tried to combat by cutting staff and by putting an increased focus on prevention and family-based care for children requiring in-care services.

“We will be able to maintain our current level of service, but we still face challenges in managing the effect of carrying this historical deficit, which has resulted from the underfunding of past services,” a handout given to candidates and those in attendance reads, adding funding will be necessary to succeed. “Historical deficits of all Children’s Aid Societies must be funded.”

The second item that was mentioned was to develop a new funding framework that is “fair, is applied equitably across the province, and is responsive to the size and needs of the local population.”

Lastly, the Durham CAS is concerned with the amount of liability board members assume as a result of the current funding formula.

“Board liability needs to be addressed. Continued disregard for the issue may lead to instability for CASs across the province,” the handout continues. “Without statutory protection from liability, directors of CASs can be exposed to unnecessary personal liability in the event of a lawsuit.”

It was recommended that the Child and Family Services Act be amended to include protection for members of the board and directors.

On the provincial level, the Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies would like to see permanent families for children with the help of subsidies and access to services, raising the age of protection for children from 16 to 18 so CASs have the ability to intervene when older children are abused or neglected, improving the child welfare of aboriginal children, and providing more youth support.

“We look to our community leaders to champion the needs of the most vulnerable,” Secord says, adding she hopes the candidate will see just how important CASs are to society.

One way the society hoped to get the point across was through the story of Wendy Hayes. She spoke during the open house to the candidates about how Durham CAS changed her life.

Hayes was taken away from her home when she was a young teen as her mother was addicted to drugs at the time and Durham CAS was called in, eventually taking her and her much younger sister away.

While Hayes says the trauma of being uprooted from her family was something she won’t forget, the success she’s had because of what CAS provided allowed her to live with her sister in a great family setting, mend the relationship with her mother, who is now clean, and succeed at college as well.

“I am just one story…but I always try to look at the bigger picture,” she says.

“I have learned what a real family is. I’ve really learned where I want to go with my life.”

Source: Oshawa Express