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Magic from Taxpayers
May 19, 2013 permalink
A fairy godmother (Ontario taxpayers) has rescued the children's aid society of Simcoe, paying their $1.5 million debt incurred through overspending their budget.
Province clears Children’s Aid Society’s $1.5-million debt
SIMCOE COUNTY – With the wave of an invisible wand by the province, the $1.5-million debt held by the Simcoe County Children’s Aid Society (CAS) has been forgiven.
“In April, a new funding model came to all children’s aid societies,” said Susan Carmichael, executive director of the CAS. “What the ministry did is forgive everyone’s debt. Out of the 47 of us, 30 were carrying historical debt. All of us are starting with a clean slate.”
The new funding formula gives a payout based on a three-year average, and also takes into account factors like percentage of children living rurally, or aboriginal families in the area.
“The government recognized we were under-funded,” said Carmichael. “We are actually getting a two per cent increase every year for the next three years.”
According to Carmichael, the local CAS was “penalized” in the past because funding was based on the number of children physically in their care.
“Ninety per cent of our children are still with the families, and you were penalized for things like that (when we felt) we were doing good work,” she said. “We were relying on lines of credit. Nobody wants to run on a line of credit.”
Any annual deficits reported over the last five years have been forgiven, said Carmichael.
Going forward, she’s had to sign an accountability agreement, which means the local CAS won’t run a deficit.
“I welcome the accountability agreement,” said Carmichael. “Taxpayers should know how we’re spending the money, and performance indicators will demonstrate the good work we’re doing.”
The agreement already comes with tough decisions, as Carmichael anticipates being $800,000 over budget if spending continues as is. Unionized salary increases and cost-of-living expenses are a portion of that figure, she said.
“We’re looking at all of our services, and everything we’re doing, to find a cost-benefit analysis,” she said. “It’s a $40-million budget, so we can find the savings.”
It might mean taking children out of “more expensive resources into kinship or family-based care,” she said.
However, children’s safety is always a priority, regardless of the cost.
“Children’s safety, well-being and permanence is No. 1, and we will never compromise that just to balance a budget,” said Carmichael.
In 2012-13, the local CAS served 4,500 families, with 11,000 children.
Source: Midland Mirror