London

London region Children's Aid still waiting for cash from province, boss says

Amid a mass resignation of board members from Brant Family and Children's Services, the executive director of the Children's Aid Society of London and Middlesex says the crisis isn't as deep here, but the agency is still waiting for much-needed money from the province.

The entire board of the Brant children's aid society resigned to protest lack of funding

The Children's Aid Society of London and Middlesex says it's still waiting for money from the province. (Shutterstock)

Amid a mass resignation of board members from Brant Family and Children's Services, the executive director of the Children's Aid Society of London and Middlesex says the crisis isn't as deep here, but the agency is still waiting for much-needed money from the province. 

"I wouldn't use the word crisis at this point, but I think I would say we're concerned about the constraints around public services and funding," said Chris Steven, the London area's CAS director. 

Kevin Hodge, Vice President of the board for Brant Family and Children's Services, says it's been 'a perfect storm' that has made the agency unsustainable with its current funding: "I love the kids, I love the agency but... if we don't meet our commitments the board can become personally liable for the financial shortfall". 7:12

"Our board and our agency has been adapting for some years to revisions to a funding model that were known and then successively we've been able to balance the budget by keeping services and safety for children as a paramount priority." 

Although the board expects to balance its budget this year, it still doesn't have its final allocation of money from the province. 

Belts have been tightened

"That will present some challenges," Steven said. 

The Brantford area board of directors resigned en mass this week, saying the organization could not meet its mandate because it can't go into a deficit, can't do any more layoffs, and there was no reprieve from the province in sight. 

The London area CAS will use a surplus that's been accumulated for the last number of years to balance its budget, Steven said

Todd Smith, Minister of Children, Community and Social Services, responds to the mass resignations in Brant. He says the agency is funded adequately and the problems pre-date his government by several years, and that an appointed supervisor will take over for the board to "right the ship". 10:53

"If our funding is lower than we are anticipating, then we may be in a different circumstance altogether. The longer we go into the fiscal year, the more difficult it is to change things." 

Although the agency doesn't have to make cuts this year, it has gone through lean years where programs and staffing levels were cut significantly. 

"In the past two and a half years we haven't had to do that. We have tightened our belt in certain areas to try to be as frugal as possible because much of our funding is devoted to service," Steven said. 

The children's aid society is dealing with the opioid problem, waiting lists for sex trafficking victims and changes to funding to other public services, such as legal aid. 

"That could potentially just create more pressures," he said.