Waterloo Region child welfare agency under provincial review
Published Thursday, January 17, 2013 4:50PM EST
Last Updated Thursday, January 17, 2013 6:30PM EST
A local child agency which has programs in child welfare and family support has found itself under provincial review.
The provincial government started taking a closer look at Family and Children’s Services of the Waterloo Region after the group reduced operations and laid off staff last fall due to a budget deficit.
Alison Scott, the organization’s executive director, says she welcomes the review as a chance to show off what her group is capable of and prove that there is an unmet need out there.
“I’m seeing that as a very positive thing, because we’ve had growing needs in our community and we’ve been concerned about the kids,” she says.
“If they have suggestions for improvement, we’ll be open to that.”
There are 47 child welfare agencies in Ontario. Forty of the 47 were unable to balance their budget last year, but only two were singled out by the province for a closer inspection.
Scott says the review shouldn’t be concerning to Family and Children’s Services staff or clients, but is simply to determine what’s driving costs at the agency..
“They were very clear that this is not an operational review that’s driven by any lack of confidence in our governance or our management,” she says.
“I’m not at all concerned that they’re going to take us over.”
Last year, the local agency closed group homes and laid off about 40 workers.
They’re still $1.3 million short of making budget, and Scott puts the blame on cutbacks from the province leaving them $2.5 million in the hole.
“I think we’ve taken it as close to the bone as we have without really jeopardizing the safety of kids in our community,” she says.
The union representing Family and Children’s Services workers agrees, saying any problems it has with the agency are caused by a lack of funding, not by mismanagement.
“As a union, we’re hoping that … possibly we can have some of our members that were laid off recently back,” OPSEU Local 258 president Steve Dick tells CTV.
The review of Family and Children’s Services of the Waterloo Region will be complete next week, with a report expected at the end of February.