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More Cuts to CAS
May 2, 2013 permalink
This is the second story in a week announcing cuts to CAS. The press and children's aid are treating it as bad news, but it is good news for children and families. CAS is urging letters to MPPs requesting increased funding. This is an opportunity for parents to write the other kind of letter, thanking their MPP for the funding cuts.
Devastating cuts to come
NORFOLK - The local children's aid society says it faces "devastating" cuts after learning it will lose millions of dollars in government funding over the next five years.
Core protection services will remain in place, but layoffs will almost certainly follow and the agency's ability to carry out preventative work with families is endangered, said Janice Robinson, executive director of the Children's Aid Society of Haldimand and Norfolk.
The organization learned in mid-April a new funding formula will translate into a cut from Queen's Park of 2% a year for each of the next five years.
Robinson said the agency was caught by surprise. The new formula was supposed to take into account such things as an area's poverty level and distances traveled to carry out its work - things that should have worked in Haldimand-Norfolk's favour.
"To say that I was shocked is not an exaggeration," Robinson said.
The agency will go through its budget "line by line" to try to find savings, but given that 90% of costs go to wages and benefits, job losses are inevitable, she said.
"At this point, we think (a smaller workforce) is something that is necessary," said Robinson.
The agency, she added, "will fight very, very hard" to continue core protection services.
"It's the narrowing of the scope of possibilities of what we offer families, that's the devastating part," Robinson said.
"We know the value in early help. If you can get to a family early, you might prevent them being involved in a bigger way."
The new formula is beginning to impact CAS agencies outside of Haldimand-Norfolk as well. Some agencies will actually get more money while others will see their budgets shrink. The Windsor-Essex CAS has already laid off 18 caseworkers.
The 160 people who work for the Haldimand-Norfolk agency have been told of the cuts and the likelihood of layoffs.
They have joined management in opposing the change and are writing letters to government officials, local MPP Toby Barrett, and even municipal politicians, asking for support.
"We are trying to get the people who are elected to hear our concerns and get them heard by those in power, and get those in power to change their minds," said Steven Murray, a child protection worker with the Haldimand-Norfolk CAS.
"We want to get the message out there that these cuts will have a drastic effect on families, kids, and youth across the province."
The Haldimand-Norfolk CAS has 291 children in care and works with another 454 families, representing more than 1,100 children in total. Last year, it received more than 2,000 referrals and completed 936 investigations.
Its budget will drop from $21.5 million a year to $17.8 million over the next five years.
In an email to the Reformer, the Ontario Ministry of Children and Youth Services said its new funding model "changes the factors by which funding is allocated to each agency. The impacts are varied across the province."
Source: Brantford Expositor