The CSS Health & Safety Handbook

Following three years of work, The Federation and our partners at the Community Social Services Employers’ Association of BC (CSSEA), WorkSafeBC, and the Community Social Services Bargaining Association (CSSBA), are pleased to jointly launch the Community Social Services Health & Safety Handbook.

The Handbook is a first-of-its-kind resource in Canada for the social services sector and provides strategies for employers to prevent workplace injury, respond in the event of an occupational injury, and reintegrate employees back to the workplace following an injury.

You can find a link to a PDF copy of the CSS Health & Safety Handbook online here (in addition, you can find a two-year report on the project, background info, and presentations).

I would like to thank all of The Federation members who took part in the various stages of this project. When our staff feel safe and healthy at work, all of our jobs get a little bit easier.

Learn more

Several initiatives will be rolled out in the coming weeks in order to familiarize organizations with the content, features, and uses of the Handbook.

A webinar is scheduled for May 10 from 10:30 to 11:30 am and is open to all who register online. The webinar will be followed by in-person sessions around the province, where attendees can bring questions and receive a hard copy of the Handbook. Dates, times and locations for those sessions will be announced as soon as they are confirmed.


The Handbook was made possible by the joint commitment of CSSEA, The Federation, CSSBA and WorkSafeBC, under the leadership of Project Manager Satvinder Basran. These project partners will continue to work on efforts to address injury prevention, disability management, and resource development for the sector, over the coming year.

If you have any questions about the Community Social Services Health & Safety Handbook, please contact Satvinder Basran at 604.601.3127, toll-free at 1.800.377.3340 ext. 127 or via email:

Rick FitzZaland
Federation Executive Director



Celebrate BC Child and Youth in Care Week

The Federation is a proud member of the BC Youth in Care Advisory Committee and we are excited to help raise awareness about BC Child and Youth in Care Week taking place June 4–10, 2018.

Proclaimed by the province of British Columbia in 2011, BC Child and Youth in Care Week is a time for people in communities across the province to stand in support and celebration of our province’s incredible, diverse young people in government care. It’s an opportunity to recognize our young people and their communities of care while helping to reduce the stigma they face.

We know many of you host Child and Youth in Care Week events in your local community. Some members, like Foster Parent Support Services Society, host these events along with MCFD.

“We partner with MCFD local offices, DAA’s, and other community partners to help demonstrate to children and youth in care that there is a community of adults around them who are dedicated to working together to support, mentor, and care for them.” – Dan Malone, FPSSS

Supporting young people in and from care is an issue that will always be important to this Federation and it’s a key part of our history as an organization. While not all of our current members support young people in care directly, many of you do so indirectly—or unknowingly—or support adults who were once a youth in care.

You can learn more about BC Child and Youth in Care Week, share your event details, see other events, and find information about art contests and youth awards here:

I encourage you to find an event happening near you, share our Youth Education Bursary with your networks (the deadline to apply is May 4th), and help us make sure young people in care know they are a valued part of our communities!

Rick FitzZaland
Federation Executive Director


Leadership 2020 Newsletter: Leadership by subtraction, not addition

– Submitted by a past Leadership 2020 participant 

I often find that a lot of writing about leadership practices list all the things that leaders should do to be successful. But all that writing often contradicts each other—some say leaders should be assertive and outgoing, others say leaders should be reflective and focus on listening.

For that reason, this short article was a refreshing piece of reading. It questions whether leadership is merely a composite of necessary characteristics or, instead, is the ability to recognize and avoid the things that often hold leaders back. Maybe leadership is less doing the right thing, and more not doing the wrong thing.

The authors—all of them speakers at a New York leadership conference—list four things that leaders should look out for and avoid. Of course, this isn’t all it takes to be a good leader, but it offered a new way of thinking about what my leadership could look like.


Updated MCFD Caregiver Screening Policy

In December 2014, MCFD implemented a new caregiver screening policy. Since then, a number of Federation members faced challenges implementing the new requirements and, over the past three years, we have been working closely with MCFD to provide feedback from community organizations and to help the ministry identify red flags and solve some of the key problems.

In late March, MCFD released a modified version of the Screening and Assessment of Caregivers in Contracted Agencies policy with much of the feedback from the sector, and Federation members, incorporated. While there remain some implementation issues concerning access to consolidated criminal record checks, the revised version of the policy includes a number of significant changes that reflect the concerns of the community social services sector.

The amended policy reflects a better understanding of the staffed residential care sector that was absent in the original version and concerns regarding possible complaints under the BC Personal Information Protection Act (PIPA) and the BC Human Rights Code (HRC) have been addressed. (You can access a PDF of the updated policy here.)

The policy has been also amended in the following, additional ways:

  • For prospective caregivers providing care in sub-contracted family care homes, the assessment no longer requires the prospective caregiver’s financial and housing history.
  • For prospective caregivers in staffed residential resources, the assessment no longer requires a medical opinion or interviewing about personal history, psychological and mental health, addiction, criminal activity and history of violence and/or abuse.
  • For all prospective caregivers in contracted agencies, Canadian citizenship or permanent residency in Canada will not be required.

This has been a long, difficult process but one that shows the value of being a part of The Federation. We were able to advocate for these important changes because so many Federation members were honest and forthright about the impact and concerns they had with the policy and because our colleagues at MCFD came to the table willing to listen and learn.

While this outcome isn’t perfect, it serves as a great example of what’s possible when our sector sticks together to solve problems and effect change in an informed, respectful, and collaborative manner. Many thanks are owed to the Federation members who patiently and persistently documented and explained the impact of the original policy and to our MCFD partners who acted on that information with care and respect.

Our colleagues at MCFD have engaged in honest and productive dialogue with us throughout the implementation process and have remained open to additional feedback and we will continue to work with MCFD on next steps and related issues (like access to the criminal record checks and the self-report audit tool). We will pass on additional information to members as it becomes available. In the meantime, please contact our Member Engagement Lead Kathy Powelson if you have any questions about the new version of this policy.

Rick FitzZaland
Federation Executive Director


Leadership 2020 Newsletter: Strategies for Learning from Failure

The wisdom of ‘learning from failure’ is essentially incontrovertible. Yet organizations that do it well are extraordinarily rare. But why? For many, this gap is not due to a lack of commitment to learning but due to thinking about failure the wrong way.

Most people believe that failure is bad. (Of course, it is!) But they also believe that learning from failure is pretty straightforward: Ask people to reflect on what they did wrong and exhort them to avoid similar mistakes in the future—or, better yet, assign a team to review and write a report on what happened and then distribute it throughout the organization.

These approaches are often misguided. First, failure is not always bad. Second, learning from organizational failures is anything but straightforward—the need for context-specific learning strategies is often underappreciated.

Organizations need new and better ways to go beyond lessons that are superficial (“procedures weren’t followed”) or self-serving (“the clients didn’t understand our program”). That means worrying less about blame and moving past cultural beliefs and stereotypical notions of what success really is.

Continue reading on…

Leadership 2020 Newsletter: Leadership and Failure

– by Caitlin Frost, Leadership 2020 Hosting Team

In order to really explore and create something new, we need to step out of certainty, try something different, and take some risks. In moments when we already know exactly how things will all turn out, then chances are we is not stretching very far into new territory.

With the complexity and urgency of the challenges we are facing, with systems changing and in many ways not working, we need to be exploring and building toward something new. As leaders, wherever we are in the system, it is part of our work to innovate, and to support innovation. Our creative ideas, work and willingness to take risks—and our willingness to fail—is needed now more than ever.

  • What is your own capacity to fail in a healthy way? To step into something that has a high chance of failing?
  • How do we increase our ability to access deep learning from failure?
  • How do we as leaders create a space where failure is genuinely supported?

Great leadership is personal. Leading failure, and failing at leading is very personal. We need to bring regular, compassionate, and rigorous practice to our thinking, communication, and responses to failure if we are going to find our way forward together.

Failing Our Way into Possibility

As leaders, we are often tasked with ‘solving’ complex problems, while also receiving the message directly or indirectly that failing is not okay.

This is not easy territory in our organizations that are highly geared toward controlling outcomes and guaranteeing success. Performance reviews, funding, approval and opportunities are all tightly tied to showing ‘success’ all the way up the ladder. It takes strong personal leadership and courage to truly support failure.

As leaders (and as human beings in all areas of our lives) a crucial part of the change we are leading is at the level of changing the culture of certainty and success. This takes courage, support and personal practice to navigate.

Read the full article on Caitlin’s website…