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SMITHS FALLS, ON – Front line staff at Family & Children’s Services of Lanark, Leeds and Grenville, members of Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 2577, are reaching out to the community on National Day of the Child in order to shed light on recent government cutbacks in child welfare which are directly impacting the current round of negotiations. So far, the parties have been unable to reach an agreement that values the work CUPE 2577 members do to protect children and families.

CUPE 2577 members will hold information pickets at work locations over the lunch hour wearing blue ribbons to mark the anniversary of the adoption of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. In ratifying that decision, Canada promised children the right to be free of harm and to live and grow to their full potential.

The provincial government has cut over $42 million dollars in funding to the child welfare sector for 2012-2013, resulting in group home closures, reduced staffing levels and cuts to services and supports that help protect and care for at-risk children and youth in Ontario.

CUPE 2577 members understand the economic reality we live in – but we also understand that children and youth didn’t create the economic crisis and shouldn’t be suffering as a result,” says CUPE 2577 President Mike Burt. “Staff are feeling increased pressure to do more with less and unless the government provides adequate funding to enable agencies to deliver mandated supports and services, vulnerable children and youth will be put further at risk.”

When it comes to protecting kids, prevention is key. Cuts to outside placement services for children with unique needs, reduction of front-line staff to investigate allegations of abuse and neglect, and reducing supports to foster parents that care for challenging youth are just some of the cuts that CUPE 2577 members have witnessed in recent months.

Our goal is to highlight the impact these cuts have had on children and youth in our community,” added Burt. “We invite supporters to join us at our information pickets to find out what they can do to advocate for adequate funding for child welfare in Ontario and to help us secure a fair collective agreement, ensuring that at-risk children and youth receive the services and supports they need to thrive.”

Across the province, the majority of Children’s Aid Societies have found their way to a pattern of settlements with local unions that will improve the quality of supports to children and families. CUPE 2577 President Mike Burt is looking for Family & Children’s Services of Lanark, Leeds and Grenville to do the same. Discussions between the parties are set to resume at the end of the week.

For more information, please contact:

Mike Burt, CUPE 2577 President: (613) 222-4901

Doreen Beath, CUPE National Representative: (613) 552-6826

Marjorie Savoie, CUPE Communications: (613) 864-9924