Family and Children’s Services of Frontenac, Lennox and Addington announced on Wednesday, May 6, 2020 that it has implemented layoffs because of decreasing caseloads.
The local Children’s Aid organization stressed that the layoffs are not due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, and noted that seven members of staff have been laid off. Other members of staff have not had their contracts renewed, but the agency did not expand on how many staff members this has affected.
According to a press release that noted that the agency is not available for interviews at this time, the dwindling caseloads are due to Family and Children’s Services’ new ‘Signs of Safety’ service model, which was introduced a few years ago. This model changed how the agency does its work, focusing on strengthening families who are in crisis, using prevention to keep families together, and making more use of community services. As a result, the agency is opening fewer cases, closing existing ones faster, and taking significantly fewer children into its care, the press release details.
“These changes have been very difficult for the Agency and to these valued staff members. We’re working differently and that’s had an impact over time on the number of cases we have. That’s why we made this decision in February, before the COVID-19 Pandemic began in our area,” said Sonia Gentile, Executive Director of Family and Children’s Services of Frontenac, Lennox and Addington in a statement.
The agency noted that the decision to make these changes took place prior to the pandemic, however, in order to give the most possible notice, the employment end dates for those who were laid off took place after the pandemic hit the area. Six Family Service Workers and one in-house lawyer were notified in early March and laid off in late April. One additional member of staff had an offer of employment rescinded.
According to Family and Children’s Services, the agency traditionally used attrition to manage capacity issues, however, the significant decrease in case volume “made attrition impossible.” No further cuts are expected in the 2020/2021 financial year, and provincial funding for the agency is expected to decrease two per cent in the 2020/2021 financial year. If that occurs, it would be the eighth consecutive year of a yearly two per cent funding decrease.
“While the reduction in funding is a factor, the decrease in the numbers of cases is the main reason for these layoffs,” the agency said, noting that it will do its best to bring a balanced budget as required by the provincial government.
“We value our staff and the contributions they make. We are doing the best we can to support impacted employees through career transition services,” Gentile added. “We ask the public for their continuing support during this time of change for our Agency.”