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Children’s Aid societies approve amalgamation proposal

At meetings held in late March, the volunteer boards for the Children’s Aid Societies of Northumberland (CASN), Hastings (HCAS) and Prince Edward County (PECAS) approved a motion to accept a proposal which examines the viability of merging the three agencies.
The proposal, which was developed by teams comprised of management and board representatives from all three organizations, provides a road
map for the creation of a new single Children’s Aid Society that would deliver child welfare services to all areas currently covered by the three existing agencies.
The approval of this motion cleared the way for the amalgamation proposal to be delivered on March 31st to the Commission to Promote Sustainable Child Welfare in Ontario. The Commission, which was established by the Ministry of Children and Youth Services in November, 2009, was given a three-year mandate to develop and implement solutions to promote sustainable child welfare in Ontario.
Their core objectives were to:
· Improve service quality by ensuring that all CASs have the scale necessary to provide high quality evidence-based services;
· Improve accessibility by enabling all CASs to have sufficient scale to be able to offer a similar range of services across the province; and
· Increase affordability by reducing duplication and creating efficiencies so resources can be maximized for direct services to children and families.
In a joint statement, Board Chairs, Mark Quann (HCAS), Marilyn Curson (CASN) and Steve Ward (PECAS) indicated that the motion to accept the amalgamation proposal is a major milestone in the history of the three agencies.
“If approved by the Commission and the Ministry, the merger could mark the start of a new era in child protection in the region. The process to examine the possibility of merging the three agencies has required a great deal of teamwork and it has not been without its challenges. However, our ultimate goal in this process is to provide an enhancement of services to children, and families in our communities, while ensuring future sustainability.”
A key component of the boards’ agreement to endorse the plan was the understanding that the ministry would cover any historical debts incurred by the three agencies and would provide financial assistance in order to cover transition costs inherent with amalgamation.

In late March, the three agencies were advised by the Ministry of Children and Youth Services that they would each be receiving a one-time grant which was to be used for retirement of prior year debt incurred for fiscal years 2006-07 and 2007-08. This funding will put the three organizations in a stable financial position as they proceed with the amalgamation process.
HCAS Executive Director, Len Kennedy commented that, “Developing this proposal has enabled us to examine ways to ensure that comparable services are offered across our communities and that the quality of, and access to, those services is consistent across regions. Throughout this process, our decision-making has been client focused and we have ensured that access to local services continues to be maintained. To that end, this proposal recommends that we continue to provide a local CAS presence within each of our communities.”
“Open and timely communication with stakeholders in all of the communities served by the three agencies will be maintained”, said Rosaleen Cutler, CASN Executive Director.
“We view this as an opportunity to continue to consult with staff, clients and our community partners in order to ensure that their voices are heard throughout this process,” she continued.
Bill Sweet, PECAS Executive Director indicated that, “Each of the agencies involved in this endeavor has unique histories and strengths. They serve communities that also have individual requirements. Our goal has been to honour and respect these differences, while examining the possibility of creating a new organization that is greater than the sum of its parts. Above all, we have ensured that the effective delivery of services has continued to be our focus.”
It is expected to take a minimum of 60 days for the Commission and Ministry to review the proposal. Pending successful negotiations and approval, the three agencies will move into transition planning with the goal of having the new agency constituted and operating by April 1, 2012.

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