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October 24, 2014 permalink
Muskoka Family, Youth and Child Services will be merging with Simcoe Children’s Aid. The target date is April 1, 2015.
Muskoka children’s aid to merge with Simcoe
MUSKOKA – Family, Youth and Child Services is working toward amalgamation with Simcoe Children’s Aid.
Bonnie Greer, board president for the Muskoka agency, said provincial funding reductions have forced the aid organization to merge with its neighbour, despite previous staff cuts and increased service efficiencies.
“We still second guess ourselves, but we know in our hearts that this is the right move for the children and families of Muskoka,” said Greer.
She said the agency was the smallest in the province and ministry-funding cuts threw it into a financial deficit.
She said the board reduced the number of staff, combined services and partnered with other social services for cost efficiencies, but it was not enough.
The boards of directors for both the Muskoka and Simcoe agencies have since completed feasibility studies on the risks and benefits of merging. The results were in favour of amalgamation.
Greer said how Muskoka would be affected by the merger was an important part of the discussions with the Simcoe board.
“We knew we were in trouble, but we didn’t want to give up our Muskoka identity and we didn’t want to take services elsewhere,” she said.
The Muskoka agency not only provides child protection services, but also children’s mental health and youth justice programs.
Greer said the board was adamant that it wants to continue to offer those unique services, as well as others, including its walk-in clinic.
She said no cuts to services in Muskoka had been identified.
“We have a lot of very unique services in Muskoka that we will not give up,” she said. “We want to take the best from Simcoe, Simcoe wants to take the best from us, and make a super agency that serves clients well.”
A joint board steering committee has chosen April 1, 2015, as the target date for combining the boards. The new board will then work toward amalgamating the operations of both organizations.
Greer said Muskoka clients would see little change next year.
“The operations will take two to three years to transition,” she said.
Family, Youth and Child Services of Muskoka served 1,101 families and completed 472 investigations in 2013-14. The children’s mental health program served 707 clients that fiscal year.
Source: Metroland (Toronto Star) Muskoka Region
Addendum: It's done. The new agency is Simcoe Muskoka Child, Youth and Family Services.
Simcoe County and Muskoka child welfare agencies amalgamate
Child welfare agencies in Simcoe and Muskoka are amalgamating under one name: Simcoe Muskoka Child, Youth and Family Services.
This agency replaces Simcoe Children’s Aid and Family, Youth and Child Services of Muskoka.
“Muskoka, on its own was not sustainable, but I believe that joining the two agencies will provide strengthened services to this region across both jurisdictions,” said executive director, Susan Carmichael.
Carmichael has led Simcoe Children’s Aid for the past four years and will head the new organization.
Amalgamation work has begun and will be a “methodical and careful process guided by stakeholder needs, best practice and with a strong infrastructure,” states a media release from Simcoe Children’s Aid.
The new board of directors will complete a strategic plan for Simcoe Muskoka Child, Youth and Family Services and then a full rebranding will take place.
As of today, the name has changed and a new governing board of directors is in place, but “in every other respect things will remain business as usual,” states the release.
Muskoka’s location provides children’s mental health and youth justice services. These services will remain in place in that area.
Contact information and office locations remain the same.
And staffing, foster parents and unions have not been impacted, states the release.
Service will remain consistent as well, it said.
Source: Metroland / Muskoka Region