The front line social service workers at Jewish Family & Child Services (JF&CS) - a multi-disciplinary agency providing child welfare and family counselling to Jewish families in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), are appealing directly to the community they support in an effort to avert a service disruption.
In the last few weeks over a dozen employers at agencies like JF&CS including Toronto Catholic and Durham Children’s Aid Societies in the GTA have advocated for enhanced provincial funding and succeeded in negotiating new contract settlements, averting service disruptions while improving the quality of supports by dealing with caseload and staffing levels.
A comparison of the online annual reports of JF&CS and Toronto’s Catholic Children’s Aid Society (an agency which also services a specific faith community) clearly shows that while the Catholic agency receives nearly all its funding from the province, JF&CS gets less than half of its funding from ministry sources. Instead, JF&CS is forced to rely on grants and donations from Jewish and other community agencies and individuals to deliver services.
“We believe that we all have a vested interest in the protection of at-risk children and youth, the well-being of families and to ensure services for the Jewish community are funded fairly. That`s why we are alerting the community to the funding inequity at our agency. Staff is being called on to absorb the cost of underfunding.
None of this is fair,” says Laila Clein Friedman a community worker and the president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) 265 representing JF&CS social workers, counsellors, community workers, child welfare and administrative staff.
Other similar agencies have worked together with staff to advocate for adequate provincial funding to ensure the needed level of services and supports are available to the communities they support.
“Our agency administration should be working with us – the staff at JF&CS - to ensure that the agency gets its fair share of provincial funding. Jewish families in crisis deserve nothing less. Staff should not be shouldering the costs of funding shortfalls. We are calling on JF&CS to work with us to ensure that the vital services that we provide to the community are maintained without disruption,” says Clein Friedman. “Why is JF&CS pushing for a service disruption when a settlement is completely within reach? Other agencies and staff have led the way and shown that it can be done.”
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