New Funding Model results in Cuts to Services in Elgin County and Staffing Layoffs at Family & Children's Services St. Thomas and Elgin
ST.THOMAS, ONTARIO (May 23, 2013) -- On April 17, the Minister of Children and Youth Services introduced a funding model that has resulted in Family & Children's Services of St. Thomas and Elgin having to cut 7.3 staff positions and a number of significant services and programs.
Elgin CAS Executive Director Rod Potgieter offers his community hope despite the unsettling news. Mr. Potgieter shares that, "It is very unfortunate that the new funding model will have a significant impact on the level and quality of child protection services in Elgin County. However, the safety and well-being of the children is our top priority and any changes to our service provision will keep this as the priority."
Over the last two years Elgin CAS has experienced a 22 per cent increase in families requiring services. This includes a 3 per cent increase in child abuse investigations and an 11 per cent increase in children entering care. Despite this growing demand, Elgin CAS will have to eliminate certain programs to allow others to remain intact.
For the 2013-14 budget year, Elgin CAS will receive 7 per cent less funding than last year. This funding will continue to decrease by another 8 per cent over the next four years jeopardizing the continuation of other programs and services.
The increase in demand for child protection services and decrease in funding raises concerns regarding the new funding formula's ability to meet Elgin County’s needs. This concern is compounded by the realization that many of the statistics used to calculate the funding are outdated and do not take into consideration recent job losses in the community or the full impact of the social recession and resultant increases in child abuse.
In addition to the loss of 7.3 staffing positions, the budgetary restrictions will impact Elgin CAS' ability to protect children and to assist families. For example, service cuts and staffing lay-offs will close the Moms and Tots program that has operated in Elgin for nearly 15 years and has provided intensive supports to mothers of pre-school children. This will result in more children having to come into CAS foster care instead of being able to remain with their parents.
There will be cuts to the supervised access program reducing the agency’s capacity to respond to court requirements and to enable the return of children to their parents.
Psychiatric assessments and children’s counselling supports that help families cope with difficult circumstances will also become casualties of the new funding model. Finally, alongside a variety of other programs and services, the administrative budget cuts threaten to reduce the overall efficiency and effectiveness of the organization.
“Elgin CAS remains committed to community accountability and the agency’s Board of Directors is engaged in strategic discussions with the Staff and Ministry of Children and Youth Services officials regarding how to best serve the county's families.”
Jennifer Paul-O’Donnell, Board President.
These funding changes have impacted other Children’s Aid Societies across the province. Many of these agencies will face long-term, dramatic changes.
About Family & Children's Services St. Thomas and Elgin
Family & Children Services of St. Thomas and Elgin is a child protection agency that has been working in the community for 118 years. The agency operates to protect children and youth from abuse and neglect, and to strengthen families to create safer homes. Elgin CAS and its employees have worked diligently to develop new approaches to best service families and children, such as the Foster to Adopt program. This program received national media coverage and changed Canadian practices surrounding parental leave benefits for foster to adopt parents.
Prior to April of this year, the organization received acclamations from the Ministry during reviews for the provision of high quality services and Elgin CAS has a remarkable track record of providing successful programming while remaining cost efficient. The organization has remained the second lowest per capita funded CAS in the South West Region and maintains the second lowest ratio of administrative costs in the province. Moving forward, the organization and its Board of Directors will continue to focus on protecting children and youth from abuse and neglect by ensuring their safety and wellbeing in a permanent and nurturing environment, in partnership with families and the community.
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MEDIA CONTACTS AFTER MAY 24: