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Children’s Aid Societies (CAS) in parts of northeastern Ontario are facing a number of challenges stemming from a lack of financial support from the province.

CAS Sudbury CEO Elaina Groves said organizations are seeing more children with complex needs and don’t have the supports to care for them.

“We don’t have the capacity. We don’t have places to place them for proper care and treatment,” Groves said.

She said it costs a lot to build individualized placements.

“It becomes a financial issue and that’s one that’s affecting the entire north,” she said.

Groves said this is the third year the organization has ended with a budget deficit.

“Across the province, 65 per cent of the agencies that reported the data to our provincial association are in deficits,” she said.

“So we’re all struggling in the north. It’s all of us.”

Groves said there have been cuts to staff, leaving employees stretched too thin.

“We’ve reduced our staff since 2017, by 57 staff members. All of that has an effect on our staffing and our ability to do our job properly,” she said.

Groves said CAS is calling on the province to re-evaluate its funding, to ensure the onus is not placed on the not-for-profit to find funding to support itself.

“We’re using other dollars that belong to the corporation to have to fund child welfare and deliver services in child welfare,” she said.

“If the money doesn’t come around, the corporation and the board hold on to that risk and that’s a lot to ask of volunteers.”

Gisèle Hébert, CAS executive director in Nipissing and Parry Sound, said it’s a foster care crisis. Hébert said in her 38 years of experience, she’s never seen it like this.


When she started, she said there were 149 foster homes in her district. Now there are 35, all, all of which are full.

“We want to place kids in the community and right now we have no ability to do that for all ages, from baby to teens, we have no foster homes available,” she said.

“The ones we have, all of them are full.”

She said she’s run into instances where the needs of the children exceed staff experience.

“If any other child were to come into care and be removed from their home today, we’re potentially staffing a hotel room for those kids, which is very sad.”

Hébert attributes a part of the problem to recruitment, since there are fewer people interested in becoming foster parents. She said there’s a misconception about fostering.

Hébert said a problem is that the province offers a per diem to house a foster child, but that amount changes frequently.

“An agency could be paying $200 a day one day, and then the next day, it’s $900 to $1,200 for a child, which is unbelievable if you think about it,” she said.

“We are in this system we have no control over.”

Groves said CAS is calling on the province to re-evaluate its funding policies.

CTV News reached out to the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services. A spokesperson said the minister was not available to comment and that more time was needed to prepare a statement.