Several struggling Children’s Aid societies across Ontario will get a $22.5-million lifeline to help them provide critical services to children in the province.
Children and Youth Services Minister Laurel Broten, who will announce the one-time funding Monday, says the money is a recognition of financial pressures many agencies have been under.
“It is funding in order to stabilize those Children’s Aid societies, to ensure that they can continue to meet the needs of their community and children in their community,” Broten said.
“And it will allow Children’s Aid societies to be able to continue the important dialogue that we are having with Children’s Aid societies across the province right now as to the development of a pathway to sustainability in the long term.”
Children’s Aid societies across the province have been contemplating cuts to core services and started laying off staff in the face of a $67-million shortfall.
Critics have been urging immediate action, saying children who are at risk of being left in abusive homes or contemplating suicide will have no one to turn to.
The new funding won’t cover all of the agencies’ deficits, Broten said, but it will at least allow them to continue to provide services.
“[The societies] will be required to continue to undertake the hard work that they’ve been doing to live within their means and reduce costs, continue to review their programs,” Broten said.
But, she added, “I have said throughout that we would not put kids at risk.”
The money will be distributed among 27 of the 53 Children Aid societies in the province based on need, and include all six aboriginal agencies, which will receive an additional $2.5 million.
Broten had previously announced a $4.4-million lifeline for Payukotayno James and Hudson Bay Family Services and the Tikinagan office in Sioux Lookout, which when combined with the latest announcements means a total of $26.9-million for the province’s CAS.
In January, she also announced $400,000 in funding for four new mental health workers for Payukotayno, a struggling Children’s Aid Society in northern Ontario that needed help dealing with what was being called a suicide “epidemic” in the James Bay area.
According to the NDP about 80 youth attempted suicide in the James Bay in the last year alone, and at least 11 of those were successful.
Broten said she will continue to work on a long-term plan to address the funding crisis and Children’s Aid societies, after appointing a commission to study the workings of the Children’s Aid system late last year.