Changes in child welfare fueled by cost-cutting, new CAS commission - not what’s best for children
People in the Grey-Bruce community of Ontario who care about the well-being of at risk children should be paying close attention to the motive behind the merger of two area children’s aid societies (CASs), say front line staff at both agencies.
Child protection staff are concerned that, despite the assertion of one of the agency directors that the merger between the Bruce and Grey counties’ CASs “is not intended to cut costs,” the consolidation of the two CASs into one new agency is, in reality, being fueled by cost-cutting, not what’s in the best interests for vulnerable children.
Despite repeated efforts to have questions about the impact the proposed merger will have on programs and on service and staffing levels, “we aren’t getting the answers that would assure us that these changes are being made in the best interests of the children and families we support,” said Chad Zimmerman, vice-president of CUPE Local 2194 who represents the front line workers with the Children’s Aid Society of the County of Bruce.
Zimmerman adds that there is widespread unease about the intervention of a provincial CAS commission charged with restructuring the province’s child protection system and its push to move child welfare to a new regional service delivery model, rather than a local one.
“For communities like Bruce and Grey, where we already have gaps in supports and services, regional delivery may make things worse,” said Zimmerman.
There is concern that realigning and merging programs may undermine the client/worker relationship as caseworkers are moved to programs in another area. Currently, staffing levels are low and caseloads are high. Last month, staff with the Bruce CAS sent a strongly worded letter to the agency administration asking for a resolve to the high caseloads, inadequate staffing levels, and workload pressures that are putting children and workers at risk.
For more information, please contact:
Vice-President, CUPE 2194
CAS County of Bruce