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Budget Cut Keeps Kids Away From Home

October 1, 2012 permalink

Durham CAS is facing a budget cut of $1.5 million this year. According to executive director Wanda Secord, children will be staying in foster care longer because CAS will have to "disband a new service team created to help children in care return home more quickly". Over at Waterloo funding cuts had the opposite effect. Some children will be going home to their parents.



Durham Children's Aid Society struggling with funding cuts

Local MPP says getting deficit under control is 'paramount'

Wanda Secord
Durham Children's Aid Society struggling with funding cuts. OSHAWA -- Wanda Secord is Durham CAS executive director.
August 15, 2012 Jason Liebregts / Metroland

DURHAM -- As the Durham Children's Aid Society prepares to mark Child Abuse Prevention Month in October, officials say the organization is facing increased financial strain.

Durham CAS recently learned it will receive about $1.5 million less in provincial funding for this fiscal year, compared with last year.

The Province has announced "cost constraints" for children's aid societies across Ontario as it wrestles with a 2011/2012 deficit of about $13 billion.

"We know the Province has a deficit they are trying to manage, but we certainly weren't anticipating a decrease. We were hoping to at least remain at what we got last year," says DCAS executive director Wanda Secord.

It means Durham CAS will lay off the equivalent of seven full-time positions and disband a new service team created to help children in care return home more quickly.

The local agency will also scrap plans for new hires and down the road could be looking at program cuts.

Durham CAS is also carrying a $3.3-million historical deficit, the result of funding changes the Province implemented in 2006/2007 and 2009/2010.

"We are being asked to do more with less," says Ms. Secord, noting demand for CAS services in Durham spiked at the start of the 2009 recession and has remained steadily high.

In 2011/2012 Durham CAS conducted 4,630 child welfare investigations and was serving about 1,100 families at any given time.

"The deficit, in my mind, is the biggest threat to health care, education and social services -- and the good work of CASs is included in that. It's paramount that we get it under control," says Pickering-Scarborough East MPP Tracy MacCharles, who serves as the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Children and Youth Services.

She says the Province is working closely with Ontario CASs to come up with better funding formulas and address the historical deficit issue, but stresses the agencies have to recognize the economic reality.

"We're asking everybody to help us manage ... we need all the people in all the sectors to kind of take a pause and look for efficiencies," Ms. MacCharles says.

Durham CAS officials are especially concerned about how the financial strain will impact recommendations to improve services for youth who are "aging out of care."

A recent report called "25 is the new 21" suggests extending financial support for former crown wards to age 25, noting young adults are now relying on family support well into their 20s.

It says every $1 the Province spends to extend support to age 25 will save taxpayers about $1.36 in the long run.

Source: Metroland Durham

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