Family, Children’s Services celebrates with expanded service

Guelph-Well­ington’s Family and Children’s Services celebrated its 40th an­ni­versary this year, and decided the best way to do it would be to expand from the city.

A new office opened in El­ora a few weeks ago, bringing the Children’s Aid help to families in the northern part of Wellington County.

“It’s a full service office. We have a full team of social services,” said Executive Dir­ec­tor Daniel Moore.

Family and Children’s Ser­vices has the mandate given to Children’s Aid, and Moore said the service provides help for children who can no longer stay in their own homes.

With the new building, “We now have space for families to visit when [children] are in our care. Previously, they had to come to Guelph.”

Moore said the service acts on telephone calls, where peo­ple are concerned for the safety and well being of children.

He said the organization re­ceives about 3,000 such calls every year, and after investi­gation, usually has to take action on about one-third of them, or intervene in just over 1,000 cases. He added, “On any given day, we have 200 children in our care.”

As well, the organization is responsible for finding adop­tion families for children taken into custody. Moore said there is now enough space at the new building for staff to train adop­tion families, as well as to work with parents so they can even­tually reclaim their child­ren. There are 130 foster homes over­seen by the organization.

Family and Children’s Ser­vices has been located in the county in previous years, but now it has a long-term home. Moore said it was located in various places, and was in Fer­gus at one point, until mould was discovered in the building.

Now at the corner of Coun­ty Roads 7 and 21, the organi­za­tion has 5,000 square feet of space in the former An­tique Warehouse.

The 20-year lease means the organization can act as a centre for parents to meet their children, for training so parents, in the best case scenario, can rejoin their child­ren, and training for parents and foster parents. The building now houses of­fice space for 15 full-time em­ployees, and even has a con­ference centre.

Family and Children’s Ser­vices receives its mandate from the provincial govern­ment, which also funds its work to about $20-million per year.

It provides a number of services, including acting as a drop-off point for estranged par­ents to take their children for exchanges in custody.

Sadly, Moore noted in some cases the organization has to take custody of children.

“One of ten [from com­plaints] goes into care,” he said, noting that “We do most of our work without the child coming into care.”

But, he said, some children have to be removed from their homes to protect them from emo­tional, physical, or sexual abuse, or neglect.

The organization looked for about a year to find the right building, and Moore be­lieves the search was worth­while.

“We should be in that building for 20 years,” he pre­dicted.

While there are 15 staff at the Elora site, he said there are 150 people total working in the organization. He added that being in a rural area has its ad­vantages and disadvantages.

For starters, there are fewer long trips to Guelph to access services.

“There are challenges in the county,” he said, citing travel distances and poor weather, as well as increased levels of isolation, but there are communities and neighbour­hoods in rural areas that are unlike those in the city.

He added it also helps his group being in the county to forge more partnerships with police and such groups as the Rural Women’s Shelter.

“Rural people tend to rally together,” he said.

To contact Family and Child­ren’s Services to report fears about children, or to considering becoming a foster family, telephone 519-824-2410 or toll free at 1-800-265-8300, or visit