TORONTO, Feb. 12 /CNW/ - As Ontario celebrates the second annual Family
Day, everyone is reminded that vulnerable families and children affected by
the current economic crisis, high levels of unemployment and increased welfare
rates will need community services and supports.
Children's Aid Societies (CASs) are one of the first front-line service
providers to see the impact of a downturn in the economy since unemployment,
social assistance and poverty are linked to increased rates of family stress,
mental health issues, child abuse and neglect.
Some areas of the province experienced economic distress five years ago
with the permanent closure of mills and mines in single industry towns. In
these communities, CASs reported that child protection caseloads increased up
to 45% within six to 12 months after the massive job losses. In Windsor where
there have recently been significant job losses, the local CAS has reported a
13% increase since last year. Child welfare experts anticipate that as major
employers across Ontario announce layoffs and closures, child protection
caseloads will grow.
"Despite the challenges of our current economic environment, we must
remain committed to securing prosperous futures for our children," said
Jeanette Lewis, Executive Director of the Ontario Association of Children's
Aid Societies. "Even with the increased pressures families face in the
economic crisis, Ontario's children still need strong, healthy and safe
families in order to grow and develop and that's why strong families are more
important now than ever."
Even before the current economic situation affected Ontario, many
children lacked the nurturing family and community supports they need to
succeed and thrive. Statistics from 2007/08 showed:
- 40% of food bank clients in Ontario were children.
- One in six children in Ontario lived in poverty.
- Almost 40% of women assaulted by spouses said their children
witnessed the violence; in many cases the violence was severe.
- One-third of children seeking mental health services were still
waiting at the end of the year.
- More than 77,000 allegations of abuse and neglect were investigated
by Ontario's CASs.
- More than 27,000 children were in CAS care at some time during the
As the economic crisis continues to escalate so will the number of
children and families who desperately need services to maintain safe, stable
Last year, 42,811 families received ongoing support from Children's Aid
Societies. When parents cannot provide proper care, housing and food for their
children, CASs must step in to provide supports. These supports include
assessments, crisis intervention, counselling and services to families. CASs
also work with community partners to ensure children are protected and
families are supported. Many programs are offered in partnership with other
Ontarians are asked to make vulnerable children and families a priority
in their thoughts and actions by speaking up and volunteering at their local
Children's Aid Society.
For more information, visit www.oacas.org
For further information:
For further information: Marcelo Gomez-Wiuckstern, Communications
Director, Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies, (416) 987-9648,