Thursday, October 22, 2009

Council calls for Letters of Support to Minister of CYS

The Foster Care Council of Canada would like to ask all citizens of Ontario and beyond to write a letter to the Minister of Children and Youth Services offering her support for maintaining the budget restrictions in child welfare in the hope that this will force the Children's Aid Societies to use the money allocated to them (over half of which goes to Salaries, many over $140,000 / year) for cases requiring intervention only, and to stop initiating frivolous legal actions against citizens who speak out against their sometimes illegal and/or unnecessary actions and decisions.

She has been getting bombarded by MPP's in the Question Period about the cuts and trying to defend herself. See the following as an example:


Mr. Jim Wilson: My question is to the Minister of Children and Youth Services. Minister, you would know that the Children's Aid Society of Simcoe County has an over $5-million operating deficit this year. In fact, it's $5.5 million.

On the local news yesterday, particularly on Barrie radio news, they were reporting that your government had given the children's aid society one million new dollars. It sounded like $1 million in addition to help them with their deficit; it turns out that that was a $1-million cash advance for money they would have received in January, the same fiscal year as now, and it just means that they won't run out of money in November; they'll run out of money in February. As you know, the fiscal year is March 31. I'm wondering, Minister, what you're going to do to help them with their deficit and why you don't care about vulnerable children as a priority for your government.

Hon. Laurel C. Broten: I would say to the member opposite that I've had many occasions in this House to talk about our commitment to Ontario's kids, and it is precisely our commitment to Ontario's kids and to the sustainability of children's aid societies that we have increased investments year over year. This year, everyone in this House knows the financial circumstances of the province. We have said to children's aid societies, "We have budgeted more for you, but we cannot give you more if you spend more than is in your budget." That is why we are working daily with children's aid societies across the province, like the work being done with the Simcoe children's aid to help them find a pathway to sustainability: examples like working through budget, finding partnerships and, in circumstances where necessary, providing cash advances as we have done with the children's aid society. We're doing our work every single day to make sure that they're sustainable. We look for partnerships across the-


Please copy and paste (edit it into your own words) the following letter. We know the Children's Aid Societies have initiated a huge media campaign against the cuts to try and get public sympathy, so we too need to get active. We don't have the budget to initiate a huge campaign, however we can let the new Minister (Broten) know that we support her in the cuts and restrictions on CAS waste.

Sample Letter

Lissa Regan
Phone: 416-212-7438
Fax: 416-212-7431
Email: lissa.regan@ontario.ca
Executive Assistant - MINISTER'S OFFICE
14th Flr
56 Wellesley St W
Toronto ON
M5S 2S3

Minister of Children and Youth Services c/o Lissa Regan

I am a citizen in Ontario, and as such would like to encourage you to maintain the tightened belt on the finances of the Children's Aid Societies. As you are aware, there are many cases of unnecessary spending of ministry allocated transfer payments on cases which would have been resolved through the dispute resolution process as opposed to court, however the statue (CFSA) currently only allows this to happen if the CAS decides it is best. We have learned that the CASs do not always know what is best.

There are cases of the CASs taking people to court for speaking out. A waste of tax-payers money and an infringement of our charter rights. There are cases of CAS's using lawyers to prevent citizens from joining their CAS, which the ministry often says is the only way for citizens to deal with matters that are not within its jurisdiction due to the fact that they are autonomous bodies, governed by a "community elected board of directors".

One way to improve accountability of Children's Aid Societies and their spending of tax-payers money is to help them to become members of the Societies. Something the CASs do not encourage.

Please see private members motion #41 (advocated for by the Foster Care Council of Canada) to see an important issue that we believe should be a pre-condition of a Society getting a signed annual service contract with the Ministry.

The Motion reads as follows:

41. Ms. Horwath - That, in the opinion of this House, the Government of Ontario should instruct all Children's Aid Societies to publish information electronically on their websites, where available, and in print format, readily accessible in the lobby area of each CAS office, which informs the public of their ability to attend and make presentations at the regularly scheduled Board of Director's meetings, the schedule and Minutes of those meetings, and further, in the same manner as mentioned above, to inform the public of the fact that CAS memberships are available to people who reside in, or who conduct business within the jurisdiction of each CAS, to provide details on how to apply for membership, and to provide access to the Society's By-Laws in the same manner.

In closing, I would just like to say that I feel it is important to place limits on CASs and to force them not to get too comfortable with tax-payers money.

Sincerely

4 comments:

  1. Our foster families in Central Ontario are fighting for a per diem increase. Some have not had increases in 5 years. There have been huge cutbacks. I will not be sending such a letter.

    There is a cap on admin. budget lines. But the foster families are fighting for recognition.

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  2. Hello Jenn,

    I can appreciate your perspective. I would like to encourage more foster parents to join their local CAS as a "regular member" not the board, just as a regular member and to learn the rights afforded to members under the corporations act. This way you can start to look into the financial accounts of the Society and see where their money is going.

    I feel that the foster parents can still be paid what they should and at the same time, the Society could be spending their money a little more wisely.

    Do you have any comments on this, as I feel your input is important.

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  3. Many CAS are facing financial issues. There are problems training, retaining and recruiting foster families. It is a difficult job. Some are treated with less than dignity and respect by workers who believe themselves above the families.

    The new regulations are bizarre based on knee-jerk reactions to situations and coroner's inquests. For example, infants cannot be placed in a crib with a loose blanket or a stuffed toy.

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  4. I encourage everyone to write letters of support.

    I do feel for the foster parents, but you are not responsible for the costs of health services, medication, clothing, camp fees, etc, you do not have to claim your earnings on your taxes..
    The moneys spent supporting foster parents should be spent supporting parents!! THAT'S what the CAS originally started out being.
    They have no problem paying foster parents who cannot afford the necessities of life to the kids in care, however they condemn parents and take their kids when they cannot provide care.

    How much money is spent paying transportation for visitation because kids are moved out of their jurisdiction?

    How much does it cost tax payers for the social workers to travel to plan of care meetings out of jurisdiction?

    I know there is a need for support for an up to date perdiem rate but that change begins within the CAS budget. Child Care should be first on the budget and everything else comes second.

    I think if one wants to become a foster parent they should cover the cost's of training. Foster Parenting is not any tougher than parenting period. If you aren't happy with the fees, don't do it.
    If CAS cannot provide the service
    then maybe, just maybe the money will go back into providing childcare rather than wasted on unnecessary extras.

    I do not paint all foster parents with the same brush, but it is my opinion that some foster homes are no better than puppy mills.
    I wonder if asked what are you foster parenting for.. how many would say
    A: To support kids who need a safe environment.
    B: To earn extra income that is not taxable

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