CAS stakeholders rally to protest cuts to services for children and youth
WINDSOR, Ont. – Stakeholders in the Children’s Aid Society (CAS) network have joined forces to pressure Minister of Children and Youth Services Teresa Piruzza to stop cuts and restore services within the sector. Organizers emphasize that while the rally was scheduled for noon today at Minister Piruzza’s Windsor riding office, cuts are a problem throughout the area and across the province.
“We are united here today in our concern for some of society’s most vulnerable members,” said Aubrey Gonsalves, president of CUPE Local 2316 at the Toronto CAS and CUPE’s provincial CAS representative. “The announced service and program reductions and staff cuts are only the beginning, with more expected as the Liberals implement their budget.”
“Funding for child welfare in Ontario has flat lined. At-risk children, youth, child welfare workers and foster parents are all on the losing end of Ontario’s new, so-called ‘fairer’ funding formula for Children’s Aid Societies (CASs),” said Gonsalves.
“What is ‘fairer’ about a funding model that results in a $50.6 million funding shortfall and looming service and staff cuts for agencies across the province?,” asked Gonsalves. “Sadly, the first services to be eliminated are those programs which provide intervention and support to families before problems escalate. These are the very services that help keep kids out of care and families intact.”
Here are just a few examples of the impact of the many cuts planned:
Recently, the Windsor CAS cut 18 case aides and family access staff from a program that provides supervised visits for children and youth in care.
“These cuts mean the family visitation program is now reduced from seven days a week to five and doesn’t operate on holidays. Children won’t be with family for Sundays and holidays and will be forced to miss school for family visits, often in group settings,” said Andrea Madden, Community Initiatives Coordinator, Windsor CAS and CUPE Ontario 3rd Vice President. “Other cuts include the loss of services like orthodontics, psychological services, food vouchers and many social and recreational activities,” Madden added.
Haldimand-Norfolk CAS is cutting 18 staff positions and most of the affected staff delivers an over-21 support program that the agency will no longer provide.
“The impact of the funding cuts on staff and supports at Haldimand-Norfolk is huge,” warns Ann Suderman, President of CUPE Local 1766 at the Haldimand-Norfolk CAS. “There are problems with the government’s socio-economic indicators. They have failed to take into account that our agency services groups dealing with significant socio-economic challenges and needing proper services and supports.”
Because of a budgeted $4.7 million cut to funding over the next four years, the Hamilton CAS is laying off 20 per cent of the staff (70 out of 375 staff) in several prevention programs.
“Reduced funding means the closure of a medical/dental clinic which provides services to children in foster care and kin/family care,” warned Theresa Flynn, President of CUPE Local 3042 at the Hamilton CAS. “It also hits programs that provide parenting skills and supports so that families can stay united. In addition, there have been cuts to foster care, adoption services and to services provided by lawyers and clerks who support custody, access and adoption proceedings.”
For further information:
Community Initiatives Coordinator, Windsor CAS and CUPE Ontario 3rd Vice President
CUPE National Representative