What it means to be a part of this Federation

It was great to see so many of you at The Federation’s October Conference and General Meeting last week. And I am very happy to announce that our Federation is even stronger after welcoming the Prince George Native Friendship Centre and The Foundry as new members.

The theme of this conference—Caring for Our Clients, Caring for Ourselves—meant that we had a diverse group of speakers sharing a range of new perspectives, tools, and approaches for supporting and fostering wellness in our organizations. And at the same time, it also served as a subtle but beautiful reminder of the power and potential of this Federation. Over the years, I have heard a common refrain from members that fills me with both pride and purpose and I heard it again last week in Richmond: “Being a part of The Federation reminds me that I am not alone.”

This idea was a thread throughout the day. Elaine Decker’s Take Your Trickster to Work presentation revealed the importance of creating space for humour and creativity in the ways we lead our teams and work with each other. In Stephanie Curran’s talk on mindfulness, we were challenged to cultivate an awareness of our place, direction, and relationships to one another. And during Friday’s workshop (titled Take Care of Yourself, Take Care of Each Other, Take Care of This Place), we were reminded of the unequivocal power of sitting shoulder to shoulder with one another. (You can view recordings of the presentations below.)

A reminder that you are not alone

When each of your organizations joined The Federation you became an integral part of a vast network of smart and caring people—all of whom had also signed up to be a part of the same thing with the same passion and determination and desire for change. Being a member is more than just a title or a badge or a list of benefits. It is a commitment and a relationship; a relationship with The Federation and a relationship with each other.

One of the foundational principles of our Leadership 2020 program is: Ask for what you need and give what you can. It may not be made as explicit, but I truly believe that this way of being also applies to The Federation membership as a whole.

Have you been wondering what your colleagues are doing to recruit childcare staff? Ask them! Has your new model for family resource programs surprised you with its effectiveness? Share it with other members so they can apply it in their communities.

The Federation membership list is available to all of you (and can be found on the Member’s Section of our website) so that you can support and connect with each other. And our staff team is always available to help make those connections.

Ask for what you need, give what you can

In September, your Board of Directors met for two days of strategic planning. The main focus of that work was considering the ways in which members are engaged in the work of The Federation and engaged with each other. We will be circulating additional information with members next week. We are also planning to work through some of these ideas with our entire membership at the February General Meeting.

There are probably very few people in the province who truly and fully understand the challenges of your work. But I want to take this opportunity to remind you that you are closely connected with 130 other organizations full of caring, smart, and hard-working people that you can always count on.

You—our members—are the true power and potential of The Federation. You give us the strength and passion needed to continually advocate on behalf of this sector and the communities we represent. And I encourage you to also consider and leverage the power that exists in your connections to one another. That is what Altogether Better is all about.

Rick FitzZaland
Federation Executive Director

Conference & GM Recordings

Elaine Decker: Bring Your Trickster to Work

Stephanie Curran: Nurturing Mindfulness in Children, Youth, and Adults

Rick FitzZaland: Federation Organizational Update

Jennifer Charlesworth, BC Representative for Children and Youth

October Projects and Issues Update

As always, The Federation has been focused on a number of ongoing projects and issues on behalf of our members. Your board members, Rebecca, and I have been advocating and bringing forward issues and concerns (as well as ideas, approaches, and solutions) in meetings and on calls. And behind the scenes, our staff team has been just as busy researching, monitoring, and connecting with members, allies, and stakeholders.

This email will update you on a number of issues and initiatives we have been focused on over the past months.

  1. Staffed Residential Care
  2. Re-visioning Inclusion
  3. Recruitment and Retention
  4. Employer Health Tax

If you have any questions about these issues or any other Federation projects or initiatives, don’t hesitate to contact me.

Staffed Residential Care

Since December 2014, The Federation has been working with MCFD’s child welfare policy team to inform the development and implementation of a new caregiver screening policy.

As many of you know, we have made some important progress over the past three years. The initial draft policy was amended taking sector feedback into account and the sector gained access to the consolidated criminal record check process that was previously only available within government.

However, there has since been significant delays in completing the new checks according to the new process. And this has created additional challenges for our members who are already dealing with a tough labour market.

We are continuing to meet with decision-makers within the ministry to raise these (and other) concerns. We have also scheduled two informational webinars about the new criminal record check process for Federation members that will be taking place on October 30 and November 1.

You can contact our Member Services Coordinator at kathy@fcssbc.ca for more information and/or to participate in the upcoming webinars.

Re-visioning Inclusion

The Federation was recently invited to be part of an advisory group hosted by the Ministry for Social Development and Poverty Reduction to re-imagine and explore what community inclusion in BC might look like ten years from now.

The first session took place last week and was both productive and inspiring. People showed up with some clear and insightful ideas about how far we have come and how far we have to go when it comes to thinking about including and supporting community members with disabilities.

At least five more sessions will take place before Minister Simpson is presented with the group’s findings. There will also be a series of community sessions for self-advocates and other community members throughout October and November. Preliminary dates and locations are listed below. We will share more information about these events as it becomes available.

October 30 – Castlegar
November 1 – Vernon
November 6 – Nanaimo
November 7 – Burnaby/Tri-Cities
TBD – Prince George
TBD – Smithers
TBD – Fort St. John

Recruitment and Retention

After the recent (long-awaited and much-needed) increases to wages in the sector, many organizations are turning their attention to a new and related issue—wage compression. As non-management wages rise, a number of agencies have been reporting their staff are now hesitant to take on management-level positions with wages that have not kept pace with increases elsewhere.

The Federation is working with PARCA, the CEO Network and other sector allies to gather data and information that will support our advocacy efforts around this issue. Please contact our Member Services Coordinator at kathy@fcssbc.ca if you want more information (or have information to share with us).

In the meantime, we have also begun work on the Social Services Labour Market Research Project in partnership with the Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training and SPARC BC. While we are still in the early stages of this initiative, everyone understands the value of this work and I am confident that our efforts will help to address some of the other recruitment and retention challenges our sector is facing.

In addition to the efforts above, The Federation has also begun building a case for a funded and sector-wide pension program. The Federation will be sending members a short survey in the coming weeks that will help us with the first phase of this new initiative.

Employer Health Tax

We know you are anxiously awaiting more information about the implementation of the Employer Health Tax. Earlier today, the government updated the EHT website with further information about the location calculation and the dates the first installments are due. Additionally, the portal to register is now open.

Unfortunately, we have no other details to share at this time. That said, our submission to Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services included a firm call to expand the current exemptions to include all community social service providers and to adjust the location calculation to account for hub and campus models. Our advocacy work on this issue continues and we will share with members any new developments as they happen.

In the meantime, do not hesitate to contact The Federation office if you have questions or need more information.

Poverty Reduction in BC: New Legislation & Next Steps

Last week, our provincial government tabled the Poverty Reduction Act (Bill 39). The proposed legislation uses the Market Basket Measure (which is now Canada’s official poverty line measure) and identifies the following targets—decreasing the overall poverty rate by 25% and the child poverty rate by 50% over the next 5 years.

Under the legislation, the government must release its first poverty reduction strategy by March 31, 2019, focusing on issues such as housing, education, employment, income supports and social inclusion. If passed, the legislation will also require the BC government to report annually on its progress.

First off, I would like to recognize the hard work of everyone involved in the BC Poverty Reduction Coalition for getting us this far. It’s because of their efforts that BC was prepared to take advantage of this opportunity. I also want to recognize the provincial government for their commitment to addressing these significant issues—if these targets are actually achieved, over 130,000 people and almost 50,000 children would be lifted out of poverty.

However, as promising as the Act is, there remain some serious gaps that will need to be addressed. There are no targets or timelines for tackling the depth of poverty or ensuring those most marginalized (for example, those on income or disability assistance) are included in the reduction targets.

The work is not done—more advocacy is needed

In July, I shared a plan and proposal created by the BC Poverty Reduction Coalition. It is called the ABC Plan because we, and our coalition partners, strongly believe that poverty reduction efforts must be accountable, bold, and comprehensive.

As you can see in the illustration below, the current legislation includes some key accountability measures. But while this piece of legislation is a foundational starting place, we still need to advocate for the bold and comprehensive measures that the forthcoming Poverty Reduction Strategy will require.

You can learn more about the ABC Plan and the coalition’s next phase of advocacy efforts here. They have also updated their online meet your MLA tool and Letter to the Editor tool to help you get involved.

Have your say!

So write your local paper. Get in touch with your MLA. Share this with your staff and volunteers and joins us as we encourage the government to include accountable, bold, and comprehensive measures in the strategy that will be launched in March. If you or your organization need assistance or additional information, please contact Rebecca Lang, The Federation’s Director of Programs and Services.

Help us reduce poverty in BC

557,000 British Columbians living in poverty can’t wait. We need an accountable, bold, and comprehensive poverty reduction plan now.

Rick FitzZaland
Federation Executive Director

The Research to Practice Network: Gender-Based Violence and Ideas of Honour

A few months ago, The Federation re-launched our Research to Practice Network with an excellent summary of a long-term study about street-involved youth. This month, we are excited to release another great piece of learning for those of us working in the social care sector.

“Daughters of Honour”

In this new article, Mandeep Kaur Mucina, a professor in the University of Victoria’s Faculty of Human and Social Development, revisits the work of her Ph.D. dissertation exploring first-hand experiences of gender-based violence in relation to cultural conceptions of “honour” and the transgression of honour-related boundaries.

The article examines the many ways in which honour-related violence has been attached to particular bodies and communities in Canada and discusses the impact of this violence on second-generation immigrant women, their families, and communities.

The article is interesting and insightful and includes findings from a number of first-hand interviews to explain the lived experiences of these women. The article concludes with lessons, strategies, and considerations for front-line child and youth care staff who work with diverse women and girls who may be encountering family and/or gender-based violence.

You can access and download the article on The Federation’s Research to Practice page right now. (You can also review past articles and an archive of Research to Practice publications from 2008 and 2013).

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 and research out there and The Federation is committed to keeping our members informed and engaged as best we can.

Get involved! Community organization staff…

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 for future articles. Contact Marshall Watson at The Federation office with your ideas and input!

Get involved! Post-secondary researchers…

The Research to Practice Network is 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 development, child and youth mental health, residential care, autism, housing, seniors, substance use, resiliency, or training and supervision of staff, please contact us!

And help us get the word out by circulating this call among your students and faculty members. If you are interested or have any questions, please 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!