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July 31, 2013 permalink
Two of Ontario's children's aid societies, London and Huron-Perth, are pleading poverty. Meanwhile, the Children's Aid Foundation is acting as benefactor in the dedication of a new playground in Toronto's Treverton Park.
London's Children's Aid Society losing cash, staff as its workload grows
London’s child welfare agency may be the only one in Ontario with a rising workload, but its staffing is being slashed and budget cut, the Ontario Public Service Employees Union said Friday.
The London and Middlesex Children’s Aid Society, facing a $4.6-million budget shortfall this year, will lay off 13 full-time staff, 27 part-timers (equal to 3.5 full-time staff) and 10 supervisors, said Karen Cudmore, president of OPSEU Local 116, which represents about 400 workers at the agency.
“It’s very serious. We’re not going to be able to deliver service at the level we should,” Cudmore said Friday.
“This will result in more kids going into care.”
The cuts will filter down to reduce the number of child and youth workers who work with families to keep kids at home and out of foster care.
“We always try to keep the child in the home.” Cudmore said. “This is brutal.”
Layoff notices will start to be issued in August and people will be off the job by mid September, she said.
The London CAS is helping more than 2,200 kids in their homes. Five years ago, the total was 1,581 — a increase of more than 600 and a statistic unique to the city.
“We’re not experiencing the reduction in numbers other cities are,” Cudmore said.
Jane Fitzgerald, executive director of the CAS, said the agency has to make difficult choices to adjust to a shrinking budget.
The agency’s focus is preserving the jobs of child protection workers who work with children in care, she said.
“We have had to take a hard look at efficiencies while still providing levels of service.
“In doing this we believe we can continue to provide services.”
The CAS has a $70.8-million budget this year, but that has to be reduced to $55 million by 2017-18. New provincial guidelines state the CAS has to have a balanced budget, Fitzgerald said.
The CAS has 840 children in care, largely foster care.
“We have been hard hit by the recession,” Fitzgerald said. “This is a tremendous challenge for our agency. We aren’t seeing the need in the community lessen.”
The CAS will implement a new model in the fall of how it will operate with less money, Fitzgerald said.
A CAS release Friday said the cuts will mean 15.5 full-time positions and up to 11 additional child and youth worker positions will be cut.
There will be “further analysis and possibly more restructuring to meet our required budget obligations, including an overall 10% budget reduction, over the next five years,” it stated.
Other programs that teach life skills to teens in need, from banking to grocery shopping, will also be cut, Cudmore said.
“Some of these youth may have mental health issues. They need some hand holding to make it on their own. We know these kids, we are like their parents and it’s difficult for them.”
Last year, OPSEU also raised an alarm over the fact about 10% of youth in care here, about 85 kids, were being sent to other communities, as far away as Niagara Falls, to get specialized care not offered here.
Also, CAS last year closed the last of its six group homes, moving kids to other community services, such as Western Area Youth Services, or in the community on their own.
Sunshine list grows for CAS execs
Amid its program and staff cuts, the list of local CAS executives paid more than $100,000 a year grows.
Executive director Jane Fitzgerald made $212,717 in 2012, a 14% hike from 2011.
Meanwhile, wages for unionized workers have been frozen for two years.
A total of 22 CAS executives made more than $100,000 last year, according to an annual provincial list of public officials paid $100,000 or more.
In 2011, that total was 19 — meaning three executives saw salaries rise over the same year there was a wage freeze for staff. “For our members, it’s a huge issue. We have taken zeroes,” said Karen Cudmore of the union for CAS workers.
Fitzgerald said she took a two-year salary freeze in preceding years and the 14% bump was only partly salary increase, the rest a vacation payout. Managers also had their salaries frozen, and any salary increases were caused by vacation payout, she said.
CAS of London and Middlesex by numbers
- 840 children in care, such as foster homes
- about 400 staff
- 2,200 families served annually
- 7,600 calls for help annually
- Target: $55 million, 2018
- 2012-13: $70.8 million
- 2006-07: $58.4 million
Number of kids CAS helps in its homes
- 2008-09: 1,581
- 2009-10: 1,583
- 2010-11: 1,634
- 2011-12: 1,786
- 2012-13: 1,864
- 2013-14: 2,200
Source: London Free Press
FUNDING CUT AT CHILDREN'S AID SOCIETY
Funding has been cut to many Children's Aid Societies and as a result, the Huron Perth Society is forced to cut some of their services. Employee Lynn Gauthier Baxter explains they've taken a 2.6% decrease over the next five years, which will affect their employees and reflect on some of their programs.
She says residents should be connecting with their local MPP's and asking them to bring it up to the provincial government about restoring the Child Protection funding which has been lost.
Source: Exeter Today
City of Toronto
City of Toronto to celebrate enhancements to Treverton Park
Councillor Paul Ainslie (Ward 43 Scarborough East), Chair of the Parks and Environment Committee, and Councillor Michael Thompson (Ward 37 Scarborough Centre) will join children from a Scarborough community at a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the building of a new playground in Treverton Park.
- Wednesday, July 31
- 2 p.m.
- Treverton Park, 843 Kennedy Rd.
Sponsor representatives from ING Direct, Sinking Ship Entertainment/Giver TV, the Children's Aid Foundation and the Scarborough Branch of the Children's Aid Society of Toronto will also participate in the event.
The new playground was made possible through donations provided by Sinking Ship Entertainment/Giver TV and its partner ING Direct, and by the Children's Aid Foundation. The entertainment company is donating playground equipment and supplies valued at $50,000, supported by a $40,000 contribution from ING Direct. The Children's Aid Foundation provided a $60,000 donation, for a total project value of $110,000.
Toronto is Canada's largest city and sixth largest government, and home to a diverse population of about 2.8 million people. Toronto's government is dedicated to delivering customer service excellence, creating a transparent and accountable government, reducing the size and cost of government and building a transportation city. For information on non-emergency City services and programs, Toronto residents, businesses and visitors can dial 311, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Parks, Forestry and Recreation
Source: City of Toronto
A Facebook comment gives a reason for CAS to resist layoffs.
Lee Bolton I heard CAS helps the laid off workers gain employment elsewhere once they lay them off. A lot of families report that their former CAS worker is now their Ontario Works worker. I guess it's likely safer for CAS to help them get a new job than take a chance at pissing them off and having them reveal some private information about the corruption going on inside those walls. Kudos though to the workers that secretly slip advocates sensitive information and documentation. It's caring people like you that have helped expose the CAS.