The Research to Practice Network: A long-term study on street-Involved youth

In November, I had the privilege of announcing the return of The Federation’s Research to Practice Network. Now, six months later, we are excited to begin sharing the articles and summaries that have been contributed by our Associate Members, post-secondaries, and other research bodies.

“I feel like I’ve really grown up”

The first article, by a team from the University of Victoria, is a preview of a forthcoming book that shares the process and findings of a long-term study of street-involved youth in BC. The analysis draws from interviews with over 200 participants that were followed over a period of 6-10 years.

The findings speak to the nature of the instability they experience and their struggles toward adult lives and adult identities. In their conclusion, the authors report on where the youth are now and how many remain street-involved before suggesting ways to help such youth re-integrate into social structures like school, work, and family.

You can access and download the article here. (You can also review past articles that the Research to Practice Network published between 2008 and 2013).

Ideas, intentions, and upcoming topics

A central aim of The Federation is to support ongoing learning and practice development in our member organizations. The most obvious examples of this are our conference and our leadership development programs. But like The Federation’s bi-monthly Research Bulletins, the Research to Practice Network is another way we are striving to inform, educate, and empower the staff of Federation member agencies. (Upcoming articles discuss topics like: gender-based violence and women of colour; trans youth and substance misuse; CYC practicum students and stress; Indigenous fatherhood and child welfare.)

And the Research to Practice Network is also a way for us to engage our Associate Members and post-secondaries across the province and create opportunities for them to help inform service delivery—especially since each area of work is very much informed by the other.

That’s the great advantage of being part of a Federation that also includes umbrella organizations, post-secondary schools, and other research and advocacy groups: the direct connection between the people focusing on advocacy, research, and evaluation and the people focusing on service delivery.

As always, if you have feedback about this member service and/or how we can improve it, please let us know. There’s a lot of information out there related to service planning and delivery and The Federation is committed to sharing as much as we can in a way that is as helpful as possible.

Get involved: Community Organizations

Is there an area of practice your staff members are keenly interested in? Is there a community issue or aspect of service delivery that your team wants to better understand? Help guide the direction of the Research to Practice network by identifying topics and issues that deserve to be focused on. Contact Marshall Watson at The Federation office with your ideas and input!

Get involved: Post-Secondary Members

We’re inviting professors, students, and researchers to submit short articles and research summaries that can help improve front-line service delivery in BC’s community social services. If you know of and/or are working in areas related to reconciliation and decolonizing practice, youth in care, early years, leadership, complexity, child and youth mental health, residential care, autism, housing, seniors, substance use, resiliency, or training and supervision of staff, please contact us!

You can also help us get the word out by circulating this call among your students and faculty members. If you are interested or have any questions, contact Marshall Watson at The Federation office.

Rick FitzZaland
Federation Executive Director

Download the Report

Click on the cover image below to view and download the report!

Poverty Reduction in BC

Last week, the BC government released a report called What We Heard About Poverty in BC. It reflects the feedback collected from thousands of people across the province who participated in the poverty reduction consultations over the past year.

Those people brought forward a wide range of experiences, ideas, opinions, comments, and suggestions about how to reduce poverty in BC. (You can read and download a copy of the report here.)

A report, a plan, and a call to action

While there is little contained in the report that will come as a great surprise to those of us working in the social care sector, it is nonetheless an important milestone to see these stories and suggestions officially documented by the government.

And the issues identified in the report very much reflect the lived experiences of those in poverty: the challenges of finding and keeping affordable housing; poverty’s impact on physical and mental well-being; the discrimination and stigma people face; the particular vulnerability of women, people of colour, people with disabilities, people with multiple barriers, and LGTBQTS people.

We remain at an early phase of this work, but the report’s introduction gives me hope that the government truly understands what is at stake.

“Poverty and inequality erode society. When our friends and neighbours can’t afford to participate in the community, it is a loss for all of us. When people are struggling to afford the basics, it leaves us all poorer. Equal societies are richer societies, with a greater sense of happiness and well-being. We all do better when everyone is included in our communities and our economy.”

The report includes a summary of the many different themes that emerged during the community consultation process. You can access the full proceedings of those consultations and supplemental reports here. All of this work will serve to guide the government as they develop BC’s first poverty reduction plan.

Minister Simpson expects to table legislation in October (with targets and timelines for a plan) with funding to be allocated in the February 2019 budget.

Accountable, Bold, and Comprehensive

As we await the release of the government’s plan, The Federation (as a member of the BC Poverty Reduction Coalition) will continue to advocate for a plan that is accountable, bold, and comprehensive.

We, like all members of the coalition, believe that a truly effective poverty reduction plan must be accountable. It must include legislated targets, timelines, and annual reports. In addition, there must be mechanisms to ensure that all ministries are working together and in a way that respects the rights of people living in poverty.

It must also be bold—especially when it comes to funding. Income supports like welfare and disability rates must be raised to the poverty line. The cost of lifting everyone on income assistance in BC to the poverty line would cost the equivalent of 2% of the provincial budget. The 557,000 British Columbians living in poverty can’t wait for a decade of incremental changes; they need bold and immediate action.

Lastly, an effective poverty reduction plan must also be comprehensive. It must include policy measures that address the full spectrum of issues—income assistance, low-wage work, housing, childcare, education and training, health and food security—and it must include a balance of short, medium, and long-term approaches.

Learn more and get involved

You can learn more about the BC Poverty Reduction Coalition’s ABC Plan here. And I encourage you to consider joining the coalition if you haven’t already done so! By adding your voice to ours—and countless others—you will help ensure that BC gets a poverty reduction plan that addresses all of the issues facing our communities.

Rick FitzZaland
Federation Executive Director

 

Statement: Appointment of BC’s next Representative for Children and Youth

Earlier today, an all-party special committee of BC’s Legislative Assembly unanimously recommended that Jennifer Charlesworth be appointed as British Columbia’s next Representative for Childen and Youth. The Federation has released a statement that can be read below. (A PDF version of the statement can be downloaded here.)

 

Statement: Appointment of BC’s next Representative for Children and Youth

VICTORIA, BC — Earlier today an all-party special committee of our province’s Legislative Assembly unanimously recommended that Jennifer Charlesworth be appointed as British Columbia’s next Representative for Children and Youth. On behalf of The Federation of Community Social Services of BC, I would like to congratulate her on this appointment.

This is an incredibly important role and The Federation is delighted that Jennifer will be assuming the responsibilities of this office according to the requirements of the Representative for Children and Youth Act. Jennifer has a breadth of experience in the social care sector, both in government and the community, and has worked extensively with Indigenous organizations, communities, and families. There are few better candidates to represent the children, youth, and families of this province.

During her time as The Federation’s Executive Director, her leadership, relationship-building, and passionate advocacy on behalf of children, youth, and families strengthened our organization and BC’s entire social care sector. I have no doubt that she will be an excellent representative for the young people of BC.

I would also thank the outgoing representative Bernard Richard for his diligence, collaboration, and outspoken advocacy during his tenure. His efforts and accomplishments have been invaluable and it has been an honour to work with him.

It is essential for the children, youth, and families of BC to receive passionate and independent advocacy as they navigate our province’s complex system of services and supports. They are lucky to have people like Bernard and Jennifer working tirelessly on their behalf.

Rick FitzZaland
Federation Executive Director

 

Announcing the Apprentice Circle

For as long as I have held this role, The Federation has always understood the value of trying new things. It’s how we approach many of our programs and services—our conferences, or member engagement, our research, and our leadership development program: Leadership 2020.

This open-minded, innovative approach to our work is what led to the expansion of Leadership 2020 so it could include MCFD staff. It is what led to the creation of the Indigenous Focus program and it has now led us to another milestone in the history of Leadership 2020: the Apprentice Circle.

Taking leadership to the next level

The Apprentice Circle is a new program specifically for Leadership 2020 graduates. It will take the best aspects of the existing programs—the cohort model, in-person residencies, a generative curriculum—and build upon it in ways that empower the next generation of social service leaders and help participants make a real impact in their communities.

For many years, past participants have been calling for something more—more opportunities, more learning, more ways to apply that learning. The Apprentice Circle program is our answer to that call.

So we poured over program feedback, talked with advisors and past participants, applied for grant funding, and built a new hands-on curriculum. Most importantly, as part of the Apprentice Circle program, participants will be empowered to take their leadership to the next level through a Community Impact Project and the opportunity to apprentice as a Leadership 2020 host. (You can learn more about these unique opportunities on our website.)

To me, one of the most exciting things about Leadership 2020 is the potential that our graduates’ community represents. We’re creating a movement of people inspired and transformed by this experience who are committed to creating change in our social care systems. This new program aims to harness and unleash that potential. And it all will kick off with the first residency in September. Visit the new Apprentice Circle web page for more details and information.

Applications and information

Applications are open right now. You can download the application form on the Apprentice Circle web page. (The application deadline is August 10th so don’t delay!)

We’re also hosting two online information sessions later this month. If you have questions or want to know more about this new program, we encourage you (and your staff and supervisors) to join us.​

Rick FitzZaland
Federation Executive Director

 

Research Bulletin July 2018: Adverse Childhood Experiences and Trauma-Informed Care

This month’s bulletin focuses on research, reports, and evaluations related to trauma-informed care, adverse childhood experiences, and the implementation of trauma-informed approaches to care.

The first two reports are companion pieces—the first looks at the significant impact of a system-wide implementation of trauma-informed care and the second is an evaluation of the implementation process itself. Also included is research and analysis on ways to manage, prepare for, and incorporate trauma-informed care as well as system-wide trauma-prevention prevention strategies.

1. Trauma-informed child welfare systems and children’s well-being (2017)
2. KVC’s Bridging the Way Home (2017)
3. Adverse childhood experiences and life opportunities (2017)
4. Laying the Groundwork for Trauma-Informed Care (2018)
5. Preventing Child Abuse and Neglect: A Technical Package (2016)

In upcoming bulletins, we will focus on aging and senior’s care, mental health, substance use, welfare reform, and systems change. So be sure to forward this to colleagues and encourage them to subscribe.

Our goal with these bulletins is to share useful research and information in a useful way. If you have feedback about how we can make these more useful (and/or if you want to suggest issues or service areas for us to pay attention to), please contact our Research and Policy Analyst.

 

1. Trauma-informed child welfare systems and children’s well-being: A longitudinal evaluation of KVC’s bridging the way home initiative (USA, 2017)

This 2017 study focuses on the implementation of trauma-informed care across a large, private child welfare system in the US. The implementation of Trauma Systems Therapy (TST) was measured against children’s well-being, functioning, emotional and behavioural regulation as well as placement stability.

While the report is data-heavy, the implications and conclusions are significant and should be encouraging to a wide range of individuals both within the child welfare system as well as the broader child-serving system—practitioners, program developers, administrators, funders, and policymakers.

The findings indicate that the system-wide implementation of trauma-informed care has the potential to result in meaningful improvements in children’s functioning and well-being. Moreover, positive effects of implementing trauma-informed care were produced by both those who work closely with the child (caregivers, case managers, and therapists) and those who work more indirectly (case manager supervisors and family service coordinators). Since this suggests that no one staff member or caregiver is central to providing trauma-informed care; the authors claim that the confluence of trauma-informed approaches among the child’s entire care team is what produces better outcomes.

The authors make clear the implications of these findings for three distinct, but equally important, audiences: (1) practitioners, program developers and administrators; (2) policymakers and funders; and (3) researchers.

 

2. KVC’s Bridging the Way Home: An innovative approach to the application of Trauma Systems Therapy in child welfare (USA, 2017)

A companion piece to the above report, this article focuses on the same system-wide intervention but specifically evaluates the large-scale implementation itself. The authors explore the extent to which a trauma-informed intervention model could inform the work of everyone involved in the care of a foster child and how best to implement such broad systems change.

While the process of implementing and expanding TST on such a scale was demanding, iterative, and complex, the efforts were successful. However, the authors make very clear the fact that this system-wide effort required a multi-year commitment and was made possible by additional private funding.

The key lessons? Do not underestimate the extent to which communication across multiple systems and levels can augment system change efforts. Additionally, non-clinical staff (school staff, mental health, foster parents, judicial staff) need to be viewed as integral parts of a child’s care team.

To help other large-scale endeavours, the report includes approaches to training, coaching, and quality improvement, strategies that were used to integrate knowledge into practice, as well as the extent and timing of the training that took place.

 

3. Adverse childhood experiences and life opportunities: Shifting the narrative (USA, 2017)

Substantial research shows that early adversity—including child abuse and neglect—is associated with poor health outcomes throughout life as well as across generations. This paper looks at the less understood relationship between early adversity and adult socioeconomic status (including education, employment, and income).

The authors suggest that (1) understanding the full impact of early adversity is critical to breaking the intergenerational cycle of poverty and (2) that preventing early adversity can affect health and life opportunities that reverberate across generations. As such, they suggest that efforts to prevent and/or address early adversity might be more successful if practitioners can better understand their potential impact.

 

4. Laying the Groundwork for Trauma-Informed Care (USA, 2018)

Adopting a trauma-informed approach to care has the potential to improve both client outcomes and the well-being of practitioners and care providers. While created for healthcare organizations, this research brief offers a universal approach for adopting a trauma-informed approach to care.

This brief draws from the experiences of pilot sites and national initiatives and offers four foundational steps to help organizations move toward a more comprehensive approach to trauma. It includes practical recommendations for organizations interested in becoming trauma-informed as well as online training resources, trauma-informed interview questions, and more.

 

5. Preventing Child Abuse and Neglect: A Technical Package for Policy, Norm, and Programmatic Activities (USA, 2016)

Developed in partnership by the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this “technical package” represents a select group of strategies based on the best available evidence to help prevent child abuse and neglect.

The strategies include those with a focus on preventing child abuse and neglect from happening in the first place as well as approaches to lessen the immediate and long-term harms of child abuse and neglect.

The five strategies (e.g., “strengthen economic supports to families,” “enhance parenting skills to promote healthy child development”) are intended to help communities prioritize policies, activities, and approaches based on the best available evidence. Each includes a rationale, approaches, ideal outcomes, and evidence to facilitate coordination and collaboration among stakeholders.