Media advisory - Underfunding of child welfare services failing at risk children and youth

    Thursday, July 3 at 12 p.m., rally to tell the McGuinty Liberals to
    increase funding

    ST. THOMAS, ON, July 2 /CNW Telbec/ - Government underfunding of child
welfare services is putting children and families at risk, says the Canadian
Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Ontario. While this Liberal Government has
passed legislation, through Bill 210, that's focused on the restructuring of
child welfare services to promote best practices - they are not funding it.
    CUPE Local 841.5 will rally at the constituency office of MPP Steve
Peters, Speaker of the House, at Talbot and White Streets on Thursday,
July 3 at noon, to ask the McGuinty Liberals to increase funding, and to draw
attention to the many issues facing child protection workers because of
chronic provincial underfunding.
    The Ministry is asserting child welfare funding has increased while
service volumes have fallen. However, this fails to acknowledge the increased
expectations that have been imposed on agencies and front line staff. While
these new policies and protocols are good for children and families, the
sector cannot implement them without appropriate prevention and support
programs, and adequate staffing.
    "At this point, we have a waiting list of 32 families for support
services alone, with issues that range from mental health challenges,
appropriate discipline and boundaries in the home, to basic things like
nutrition and cleanliness," said Todd Rowley, Unit Chair of Local 841.5. "The
reality is the amount of direct contact with children and families have
decreased among protection workers due to administrative requirements - this
is not good for the children and families that we work with and it is only
making a situation more difficult for those on the wait list."
    Programs at many agencies are in danger because of the Ministry's
requirement for all agencies to submit balanced budgets and we are beginning
to see layoffs and programming cuts around the province.
    "In our agency, we are concerned about non-mandated programs such as
Mom's and Tots, Dad's and Tots, foster care support and crucial programs like
parenting groups," Rowley continued. "These preventative programs are aimed at
strengthening families and keeping children in their homes, but basic
parenting groups, the courses to help teach fundamental parenting skills, are
not funded."
    CUPE is calling on the Ministry of Children and Youth Services to
adequately fund the child welfare sector so that the change agenda legislated
by this government can be implemented most effectively.

For further information:

For further information: Todd Rowley, Unit Chair of CUPE 841.5, (519)
777-3959; Kathy Johnson, CUPE Social Services Coordinator - Ontario, (416)

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Canadian Union of Public Employees

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