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Health Board Helps Hamilton CAS

July 12, 2013 permalink

A difficult-to-understand article draws sympathy for Hamilton children's aid and the Board of Health over recent funding cuts. It seems to be aimed at readers naive enough to think that children's aid helps children.



Pilot program aims to cover gap in aid funding

Board of health initiative will run for three months

Dominic Verticchio
Dominic Verticchio of the Children's Aid Society of Hamilton
Hamilton Spectator file photo
Elizabeth Richardson
Dr. Elizabeth Richardson
John Rennison

Hamilton's board of health has agreed to a three-month pilot project in a bid to keep providing medical services to the city's cash-strapped children's aid societies.

Recent provincial funding cuts to children's aid meant the city's agencies could no longer afford to second public health staff to assist in health clinic and in-community care.

In response, the board of public health will roll out the pilot project. The program will provide public health nurses to the Children's Aid Society of Hamilton and Catholic Children's Aid Society of Hamilton, and will operate under a new model with fewer workers. Although the specifics will change, public health nurses will continue to work with the agencies to ensure the highest need children are assessed.

The pilot program was announced at a board of health meeting on Thursday. Dr. Elizabeth Richardson, Hamilton's medical officer of health, said she's concerned with the current state of support for the children's aid societies.

"Hamilton is the best place to raise children," Dr. Richardson said, adding that the department approached a handful of non-profit organizations for funding alternatives but were not successful. "We're doing everything we can."

Public health decided to fund the pilot project by finding savings within their own budget.

"We'll be assessing the program at the end of three months for any gaps in the system," Dr. Richardson said. Public health services will provide a full report on the pilot program to the board of health in October.

On May 8, the province announced it would cut $4.7 million from the Children's Aid Society of Hamilton's annual $50 million budget over the next four years. As a result, 70 staff members lost their jobs.

At the same time, Dominic Verticchio, executive director, said they are developing a strategic plan to find an estimated $350,000 annually (through donors and businesses) to keep open their medical clinic that treats more than 600 children. As of today the clinic is slated to close its doors for good in October.

"It's been very difficult on our staff and poses a lot of anxiety. But we are still able to provide quality service to the community," he said. "There's going to be further reduction in provincial funding allocation in the next three years, so that's concerning for years to come."

David Shea, director of communications for the Catholic Children's Aid Society of Hamilton, said since the May announcement they have lost 10 staff members but no direct services have been affected.

Source: Hamilton Spectator