resident care

Ontario election: Resident care funding on the table

As school starts up again, Ontario’s politicians are hitting the ground running, too; the next provincial election has been called for Thursday, Oct. 6.

One issue Quinte Children’s Homes (QCH) is keeping an eye on is the funding we get for children in our care: There is no standard funding for kids in resident care, and rates are fixed with no adjustments for inflation.

The result? As costs go up, the money left to pay for important services gets stretched thinner. We believe that without regular review we’ll end up with “2nd class care” for youth who need more specialized support – and we think the government should do something about it.

System a good attempt that doesn’t work

When QCH was first established in 1999, we met with government and CAS staff to set what’s called a per diem rate – the amount of funding we receive for each child in care.

These funds help cover a variety of costs:

  • necessities for the child in care
  • compensation to foster parents (what we call parent therapists)
  • any needed treatment
  • other services – for example, if a child attends Applewood Academy
  • our business administration costs.

This rate can only be changed through a rate increase; there’s no adjustment for cost of living, and no standard process or cycle for rate reviews.

It took 10 years before we successfully argued for a review and rate increase in 2009; as the cost of providing care increased, we had to cut costs to stay within budget while continuing to deliver our best service.

Children’s Aid Society funding works differently

CAS is a private non-profit organization; our work overlaps and we often partner with them or they may transfer children to our care when they need greater support.

However, the per diem that CAS receives for each child in its care does increase regularly so as their costs increase, so does the funding CAS has to cover added expenses.

Kids who come to QCH lose the benefit of those extra funds, which we think puts them at a disadvantage.

This irregular review cycle also causes issues for CAS. When we successfully argued for a 21% increase in 2009 it was great news – except groups like CAS, for example, had finalized their budgets for the years and didn’t have the funds budgeted to accommodate the increase.

Finding the solution for Resident Care

We think the government needs to standardize rates and revise the review process. And QCH is not alone.

QCH is a member of the Ontario Association of Residences Treating Youth (OARTY), an organization of private care providers like QCH. As a group, we know that funding makes a difference when it comes to quality of care, our ability to recruit new parent therapists, and ensuring adequate funding for core services.

Leading up to the election, OARTY and its members will meet with MPPs across Ontario to push for increased standards. If you’re interested in learning more or want to help, please contact us.