Parent holding and comforting a sad childCUPE Ontario is disappointed by the Ford Conservative’s announcement revealing a vague strategy to fundamentally redesign the child welfare system. Without new funding in a chronically underfunded system, the plan is destined for failure.

“Families and service providers are concerned. Just last year Ford wanted to cut $28 million from Children’s Aid Societies. If Ford’s Conservatives really cared about keeping families together, they’d invest in programs and services to create wrap around care with enhanced supports to achieve improved outcomes for children, youth and families,” says Carrie Lynn Poole-Cotnam, CUPE Ontario Social Services Chair.

In January 2020, the government initiated a series of talks to merge Children’s Aid Societies into an amalgamated, centralized system. Last Wednesday’s announcement emphasized the need for community-based prevention in family-based settings in an effort to shift focus from protection to prevention and early intervention. This shift should also address long waitlists and accessibility. Families outside urban centers, particularly those in northern and remote communities, report challenges in accessing quality, timely services.

“A new vision for child welfare starts with Children’s Aid Societies, who are best positioned to meet the unique, and often community-based, needs of families. Children, youth and families deserve robust funding investments in Children’s Aid Societies, family and community support programs, mental health and addiction services, pre- and post-natal care, and community centric public health initiatives,” Poole-Cotnam adds.

“Buzz words like centralization, modernization, and operational efficiencies are clearly signals that the Ontario government is considering another round of deep funding cuts that are going to further jeopardize families, children, and youth” Poole-Cotnam continued. “Prevention and protection must be balanced—the government must take action and not delegate their duty to support families to underfunded community supports.”