TORONTO, Ont. – Today’s report by the Auditor General into four Children’s Aid Societies in Ontario verifies what front line child welfare workers have highlighted for years, that “transforming” a sector where the front lines are under-resourced, compounds existing pressures in the system and adversely affects the abilities of front line staff — who want the best for children — to do their jobs well, says Sid Ryan, President of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) that represents these workers.
“While we welcome the Auditor General’s recommendations to ensure proper controls for how money is spent, the most important issue remains the continued under-resourcing of front line services,” said Ryan. “There are simply not enough workers to meet both the service demands of children and the administrative work. When push comes to shove, our dedicated workers are putting children first before paperwork.”
Child protection workers have repeatedly flagged that they do not have enough time to complete caseload paperwork. And when they are faced with the decision of whether to provide care that protects children or do paperwork, they opt to help children.
Ryan says that many employees end up doing their documentation on their own time without pay. “Let’s face it, our front line workers are not in this line of work for the money or the glory —these are very stressful jobs. They care deeply about children yet are hard-pressed to continue providing quality service.”
In fact, the auditor recognizes the skills of front line child protection workers in one of his recommendations. The auditor says that risk assessment should be done with increased emphasis on utilizing the skills and professional judgment of front line child protection workers.
Although embarking on a transformation of the child welfare system, the McGuinty government hasn’t provided the necessary funding to ensure the capacity of agencies to undergo the substantive changes called for by the Child Welfare Secretariat, according to Ryan. “There is a $64 million deficit in funding from the McGuinty government for services and front line work. Agencies need $40 million and they have only received $10.5 million.”
Ryan says that CUPE will undertake a review of the auditor’s report with front line workers and forward recommendations to the government. “We believe there are systemic issues affecting the care of vulnerable children and families that the government needs to address,” he says.
For more information, please contact:
CUPE Ontario President