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The cheap labor of the DPJ

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This is a story that affects the DPJ and the SSS (Health and Social Services), so there is this acronym that I must first define for you, dear readers: PFAP.

FAP: local host family. We know the principle of the host family. If we add “nearby”, it means that the family welcoming the child in the care of the DYP knows him. An uncle, a grandmother, a neighbor. The P in FAP is for “postulant”, as in “Applicant as a local foster family”.

PFAP: You “apply”, but while your application is being assessed by the bureaucracy, in real life you have already welcomed the child into your home, their life intertwines with yours.

The first names that follow are fictitious, in order to protect the identity of the children cared for by the DPJ. But the story details are not fictitious, I checked them.

On June 11, Éric received a call from Stéphanie, his girlfriend. Stéphanie has just received a visit from the DPJ. Two children around him must be taken out of their family unit urgently.

I specify that Éric and Stéphanie have no family ties with the children. But Stéphanie knows them, through her work. She knows them, rubs shoulders with them, appreciates them.

At the end of the line, on June 11, 2021, Stéphanie therefore explains the situation to her boyfriend. The DPJ asks her if Éric and she are able to welcome the two children for the weekend.

June 11 is a Friday. The weekend is… here, now.

Stéphanie: “We take them for the weekend? »

Eric: “Go! »

The couple was happy to welcome the children, it was a bit like revenge on fate: for Eric and Stéphanie, if we make a short story, it hadn’t worked, having children. For the expenses, they said to themselves: we will settle that later. It was, in their analysis, that Friday, a mini-detail.

The DPJ, which reports to a CISSS in the Montreal region, came to make a visit to ensure that the house of Éric and Stéphanie was suitable for receiving two children.

And the two children disembarked at the end of the day with, for all luggage, a plastic bag containing t-shirts and underwear…

Point.

“Not a high chair, not a toothbrush,” Eric recalls.

The DPJ said to the couple: buy the necessary, we will provide you with gift cards.

The two days of emergency placement became a week.

In fact, there, 8 months and 11 days later, the two children are still living with Éric and Stéphanie, who are now considered to be PFAPs, applicants for local foster families.

And they are very happy about it.

But there is something that is starting to irritate them royally. The mini-detail I was telling you about above: money.

First, the initial expenses incurred by Éric and Stéphanie during the first days of reception, $260, have still not been reimbursed by the CISSS.

Then, to make round numbers, the State pays $28 per child per day to a local foster family, to meet certain expenses. That’s no problem, the state pays Éric and Stéphanie $56 a day to take care of the two children.

The problem is elsewhere. When the P of FAP will fall, when Éric and Stéphanie will no longer be “postulants”, when they will be approved as local foster families, when the State will officially endorse them with the seal of FAP – which they already are, on a daily basis – they will be able to receive another daily amount for the care they provide to the children, the so-called category of “services rendered to the child”.

The amount varies according to the children and their challenges, from $36 to $84 per child, per day. Eric told me that according to his calculations, in their case, it would be exactly $37.66 per day, per child. Total for both children: $75 per day.

But this second check will only be paid when the first P of PFAP will fall, when they will be duly approved as a local foster family… And, as I told you, it’s dragging on. For eight months. But Éric understands, he understands the delays, the labor shortage, COVID-19, all that…

His bug?

The second sum – $75 per day – is not retroactive to June 11, 2021.

The children have been with Stéphanie and Éric for 256 days. If we multiply $75 by 256, that’s $19,200 that the state will never have to pay.

Éric has nothing to complain about against the workers from the DPJ with whom he talks. Pearls, he swears. But he does not understand the logic of a system that refuses to pay these $ 75 a day retroactively for the services and time that he and his girlfriend have been providing since day 1 of their engagement, June 11, 2021.

Éric took his grievances to the CISSS, then to the office of the Minister for Social Services, Lionel Carmant. Apart from the explanation of “this-is-what-the-ministerial-directive-has-decreed”, he had no explanation that he considers to be logical…

He therefore filed a complaint with the Québec Ombudsman.

And he wrote to me.

Eric finds that the system is playing the clock to its own advantage. Because the longer the system waits before homologating him and Stephanie as FAP, the more daily $75 he puts in the bank. The more the system saves!

Coudonc, would the machine lower itself to make savings on the backs of good citizens who open their doors to children who need them immensely?

I asked Geneviève Rioux, president of the Federation of Foster Families and Intermediate Resources of Quebec (FFARIQ). His answer: yes, that’s what the system does. “Even before COVID-19, she says, I saw 9, 12 and even 18 months before a family was approved. Without payment of these retroactive sums. »

The president of the FFARIQ evokes the case of an uncle who, overnight, welcomed into his home as PFAP four nephews and nieces. The gentleman already had two children. He had to change vehicles, for a minivan. The state took 10 months to approve it and pay him the second check. “Without feedback,” says M.me Rioux.

The state therefore saved more than $19,000 on the backs of Éric and Stéphanie.

I ask Eric if that calls into question the commitment he and his girlfriend have to the two children.

‘No,’ he said. We are human. The children too. And an attachment is created, you know… We know that in March-April, the DPJ will ask us to stretch another year. We know that the parents are not well. And there is even a question of a placement until the majority…

“So you want to keep them?”

– Yes. I don’t see how you could say no to them. They deserve the chance to have a normal childhood. »

I listened to Eric tell me about this bond that was created, this cocoon that his girlfriend and he shaped to accommodate two children, overnight. There is something frankly moving about this commitment. Reassuring, too: these people are doing useful work.

It’s just vile that the state treats them like crap cheap labor.

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