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More money’s nice, but crisis in child care continues

Government cutting corners in foster and kinship care is ‘shameful’

Jun 05, 2024

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EDMONTON – A boost in funding for families providing foster and kinship care is a good start, but fails to tackle a crisis in the care of vulnerable children, says the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE). 

“Families that take in children who have suffered trauma, abuse or neglect haven’t had an increase in government funding since 2012, so a 4.2% is long overdue,” says AUPE Vice-President Sandra Azocar. 

“However, the government has not addressed the problems faced by the countless government workers involved in supporting and managing foster and kinship-care cases,” she says. 

Under a program called the “Growth Model Series,” the government is hiring people with lower qualifications, and at a lower pay rate, and then expects already overworked case managers to train and mentor them.  

New workers are doing the best they can, but are being pushed into situations that they haven’t been trained to handle. That’s a problem not just for the workers, but for the children and the carers. 

“In a shameful move to cut corners, the government is refusing to hire people with the appropriate skills to do the work that is required helping to support the foster and kinship families and the children,” says Azocar. 

“Case managers, who are already managing more files that the government benchmarks suggest, are now having to add training and mentoring of new staff to their duties." 

Regulations prevent these new hires with lower levels of training from carrying out some of the work that is needed, so the mentors must step in and take over. 

“Foster and kinship care families need more support from properly trained staff,” says Azocar. “Unfortunately, the excessive workloads are driving people away from working in the care sector, with more quitting or being forced to take sick leave. 

“It’s time for the government to abandon its short-sighted hiring practices and hire enough staff with the necessary skills to do this vital work. If they fail to do so, it is the children and their carers who will pay the price.” 

AUPE is western Canada’s largest union, standing over 95,000 members strong. 

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AUPE VP Sandra Azocar is available for interviews.  

 
Please contact Terry Inigo-Jones, communications officer, at t.inigo-jones@aupe.org or 780-863-7850. 

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