After 37 years of providing therapeutic care and
shelter for adolescent girls the Community
Girls’ Home will close its residential doors for
good on March 31, 2011, workers at the facility
shocked by this development,” said Craig
McKenzie, vice president of Local 145 of the
Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU)
which represents 18 staff at the facility.
certain to have a negative ripple effect in
Sarnia-Lambton and to the service system in
general. The young women who find shelter and
safe-keeping at the Community Girls’ Home are
among the most vulnerable young people in our
closure is the latest set-back to community
based children’s mental health services in
Ontario which, unlike other government services
for children and youth, like the Children’s Aid
Society, is not a legislatively-mandated
Despite a 34
per cent increase in the number of children
accessing mental health services in
Sarnia-Lambton in the past year, the agency has
not received any new funding in the 2010-11
provincial budget – a pattern that has been in
place for 14 of the past 17 years.
in under-funding is forcing some families to
wait four or more months before their children
are able to access counselling.
“What we have
witnessed is chronic neglect by the McGuinty
government and its predecessors,” said McKenzie.
“The closure of the Community Girls’ Home
residential program is ripping apart the safety
net for some of the most at-risk children and
youth in Sarnia-Lambton. Instead of receiving
support locally, many families will now be
forced to send their children away for
residential treatment service.
conditions here are outrageous and causing
needless strain on families.”
the province must develop a long-term funding
strategy that will eliminate the need to shut
down local services. One in five children and
young people in Ontario have a mental health
disorder, but only 25 per cent of those are able
to access service.
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