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Budget Shortfall Lets Kids Go Home
September 21, 2012 permalink
According to a news article drawn from statements by Waterloo CAS executive director Alison Scott, her agency will be making layoffs and closing group homes for budgetary reasons. The facts:
Layoffs, group homes to close as family and children’s services fights $2.5M shortfall
KITCHENER — Family and Children’s Services of the Waterloo Region is closing two residential group homes and eliminating positions as it grapples with a $2.5 million shortfall in provincial funding.
This is the third time in four years that there have been layoffs at the agency because of provincial underfunding.
The equivalent of 24.7 positions is being eliminated, Alison Scott, the agency’s executive director, said Wednesday.
The layoffs and closure of the group homes, which take effect Nov. 5, will save the agency $1.3 million, but Scott said any further cuts would hinder the agency’s ability to protect the region’s most vulnerable children.
“We still have a shortfall of $1.2 million, but I can’t find any more cuts without really impacting services to children and families,” Scott said.
The 13 children in the group homes will be moved into foster homes, or will live with relatives or be returned to their families with agency supervision, she said.
“That’s cheaper and better for the kids,” she said.
The layoffs include 20.7 group home positions, three managers and one administrative position, she said.
Before the layoffs, the agency had hired seven child-protection workers, two youth workers and a support worker to help provide more front-line help to troubled children. Those jobs will remain and will be part of the $1.2-million deficit, she said.
Scott said any further cuts would impair the agency’s ability to meet its legal mandate to see a high-risk child referred to workers within 12 hours. Also, the provincial mandate to work toward keeping families intact is more time-consuming for child-care workers than placing a child in a group home or foster care.
The agency requested $49.8 million from the province to provide government-required services for the fiscal year from April 1, 2012, to March 31, 2013. The province granted $47.3 million, less than the $48.6 million received last year. Its budget still hasn’t been approved.
Financial woes have dogged the agency. In 2010, 11 positions were cut following 14 in 2009. There are about 500 workers and 540 children in care.
Scott said her agency isn’t alone, as across the province, there is a $67-million gap between what children’s aid societies need to protect children and what the cash-strapped government is providing.
“This is an issue that is facing all children’s aid societies in the province,” she said.
Source: Kitchener/Waterloo Record
Addendum: Another cry-baby article in the press.
More cuts for Family and Children's Services
Family and Children's Services of the Waterloo Region is laying off more workers and cutting programs as it struggles to deal with a big deficit.
An additional 22 part-time workers are being let go at the child welfare agency in an attempt to find about $250,000 in savings.
Last month two group homes were closed and 25 jobs cut in an effort to save $1.3 million.
Executive director Alison Scott says "It's very demoralizing for the staff, they're very concerned that they may not get to a case soon enough or they may not be able to provide sufficient help and they worry that children may be at more risk as a result."
The organization investigates 5,000 cases a year, serves 1,200 families and has 500 children in its care.
Programs that help children at risk of physical, sexual or emotional harm, foster parent programs and others could also be reduced due to a lack of funding.
Scott says the agency is underfunded by the province about $2.5 million this year, but must still fulfill its mandated programs.
"We're also not giving up on early help because we know if we don't provide early intervention then things will escalate and become more problematic and that actually costs more money."
However, Liberal MPP John Milloy says the agency has had a 25 per cent budget increase in the past decade and a commission is looking for solutions for all the troubled provincial agencies.
"When you look at a system when there has been literally hundreds of millions of dollars put into the system and they're still under a lot of pressure. I think we've got to think about two things. Obviously about the level of funding but also about, you know are there ways we can do things differently."
Scott says the funding increase came because there were more kids in the agency's care, but now with the funding cap, it has made all the cuts it can and has run out of options.
In fact, the Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies says only three of the 47 child care agencies in the province will be able to balance their books for 2012.
A decision will be made in the next two weeks about exactly which services will be reduced or cut in Waterloo Region.
Addendum: In November more crying by Alison Scott. She is cutting visits between children and parents.
More cuts to child protection agency
WATERLOO REGION — The slashing of jobs and programs may not be over yet for the cash-strapped agency that protects Waterloo Region’s most vulnerable children, the head of Family and Children’s Services of the Waterloo Region said Tuesday.
On Tuesday, Alison Scott announced that one full-time manager has been laid off and the number of hours worked by casual relief staff has been cut by 300 a week to save money.
“I have been very cautious not to talk about whether or not there are further cuts. I just don’t know at this point,” Scott said.
At issue is provincial underfunding resulting in a $2.5 million deficit, the largest in the agency’s 118-year history.
In September, the agency announced it is closing two group homes and eliminating the equivalent of 24.7 positions to reach a cost-saving target of $1.3 million.
On Tuesday, Scott announced more job cuts — the equivalent of slightly more than seven full-time positions — to save $260,000.
Scott said the program most affected will be supervised visits between children in care and their biological families. Staff will now supervise groups of families in one setting, instead of providing one-on-one supervision. The hours of supervised visits will also be reduced.
Source: The Record