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CAS proud of steps to rebuild trust in County

At its second annual general meeting, executive director Mark Kartusch acknowledged the seriousness of the events that have taken place within Prince Edward County that have shaken trust in the Childrens’ Aid Society and the steps that have since been taken to improve operations and rebuild that trust.

Following criminal charges laid against several former foster parents of the agency in 2012, the society offered an apology to children who experienced harm at the hands of their foster parents, and to the community that trusted the society to keep them safe.

The Highland Shores Children’s Aid (HSCA) meeting was the first AGM since amalgamation with the Children’s Aid Society of the County of Prince Edward (PECAS).

“One of the things that we have done to begin to rebuild trust was to reach out to communities across the county,” he said. “We held five community meetings in the spring to explain what happened and to share what we were doing to try to improve our operations.  We are continuing to improve and our staff have been working hard and demonstrating their commitment to making the necessary changes.”

He went on to report progress related to the amalgamation.

“There were hundreds of milestones and deliverables, weeks and weeks of training for staff, changes to jobs and reporting relationships.  Yet as I reflect on it, I couldn’t be prouder of how our staff have embraced this process.”

In his executive director’s report, he said that despite the vast geography that the amalgamated society serves,  “Each and every child, no matter where they live in our jurisdiction, is relying on us to help their family keep them safe and thriving, and to step in when their family can’t do that.  This is a profound responsibility, one that all of us at Highland Shores is honoured to have been entrusted with and one which we are committed to doing our absolute best to fulfill in partnership with our service provider colleagues, and with our community partners.”

As work on the amalgamation finishes, the society will also face another major project as it participates in the implementation of the province-wide Child Protection Information Network, or CPIN.  Highland Shores is one of 14 early adopter agencies with an implementation date of early June, 2014.

In  addition, Kartusch said a new funding model will also bring  challenges.

“The new ministry funding model has Highland Shores receiving $2.71 million less at the end of three years,” said Kartusch. “In addition, the model calls for the Society to reduce its overall budget by 10 per cent over the next five years, which translates to an approximate $4.5 million cut from our funding level in 2012-2013.  In addition to the new funding model, there is also a requirement to balance our budget and engage in accountability agreements that are embedded in regulation.”

Members of the Society elected the board of directors to help set the course for the agency for the coming year. Individuals are elected for one or three-year-terms:

Three year terms:  Marilyn Curson, Mike McLeod, Jay Taugher, Alan Whyte. One year term:  Caitlin Dougherty. Returning members of the board are:  Darcey French, Phillip Peters, Elaine Phillip, Peter Knudsen, Jacqueline Pennington and Jacqueline Whittingham.

In addition, Sandra Lewis-den Otter is the appointee to the board from the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory and Eric Crowe is the appointee for Alderville First Nation.  The appointee from the Quinte Children’s Foundation is John Cairns.

Five retiring board members and one retiring community member from Highland Shores Children’s Aid were presented with certificates of service.  They included:
Anya-Deane Best, Bruce Knutson
Darren Strongman, Karyn Kennedy
Mary Brown and Jack Dixon – community member.

The Board Executive for 2013/14 is: President:  Darcey French
Vice President:  Michael McLeod
Treasurer:  Phillip Peters
Secretary:  Jay Taugher

Filed Under: Local News

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