Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Nova Scotia Campaign Aims to Bolster Child Welfare System in 'Desperate Need'

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Nova Scotia Campaign Aims to Bolster Child Welfare System in 'Desperate Need'

Article excerpt

N.S. child welfare in desperate need:union


HALIFAX - Nova Scotia's child welfare workers are "drowning under their caseloads" and children are being left at risk, the province's College of Social Workers says.

"Social workers are running from crisis to crisis doing their utmost to hold this system together, but they are burning out and this is putting vulnerable children and youth at risk," said Alec Stratford, the executive director of the college.

The college and Nova Scotia's largest public sector union are calling on the Liberal government to increase funding for child welfare and other social programs in the upcoming spring budget.

They are collaborating on a campaign that highlights what they say is a child welfare system in "desperate need of support."

The public is being asked to visit and to send letters to Premier Stephen McNeil to voice concerns.

Stratford said Monday child welfare social workers in particular are hampered by a lack of administrative support and community resources for their clients.

He said the stress on child welfare also has spillover effects to areas such as foster care, education and mental health.

Stratford said the lack of funding is a national problem. He pointed to a recent Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) study that looked at social expenditures across member countries.

It showed that Canada falls below the OECD average, investing 17.2 per cent of its GDP on public social spending compared to the OECD average of 21 per cent. In the 1990s, Canada was at 20.4 per cent.

"This isn't just about child welfare, this is about the broad social services that support social welfare such as income assistance, mental health and addiction and housing. All of those services need many more resources to be able to deal with the complexity of needs that families are facing."

The college represents more than 1,900 social workers, while the NSGEU represents approximately 460 social workers in the Department of Community Services. …

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