Building Strong & Sustainable Community Social Services

Last February, the 2018 Social Policy Forum identified and focused on four of the key factors affecting the sustainability and capacity of British Columbia’s community social services sector:

  • Inclusive and culturally safe workplaces
  • Attraction and retention
  • Supervision and training
  • A coordinated system of social care

This focus carried us through 2018 and these four themes continue to frame the work of The Federation as we head into 2019. They drive our advocacy efforts, guide our programs, and inform the services and supports we design for our members.

Below you will find a brief overview of some of the work that has come out of the 2018 Social Policy Forum as well as what we have planned for the 2019 Social Policy Forum next month in Victoria.

What we’ve got underway…

(You can see the full 2018 Social Policy Forum Work Plan that was presented at The Federation’s 2018 Annual General Meeting here.)

Inclusive and culturally safe workplaces
Our Reconciliation Book Club has our third meeting next week and the group continues to grow in both size and energy. (You can learn more and sign up to participate here.) In November, the Federation team worked with Sources to pilot an offering of the KAIROS Blanket Exercise and plans are underway to offer more training opportunities over the coming year.

Attraction and Retention
In addition to addressing issues like wage compression, our main focus in this area has been launching the Labour Market Social Services Research Project in partnership with the Ministry of Advanced Education Skills and Training, SparcBC, and CSSEA. This project will provide more (and more accurate) information for the sector and develop strategies to encourage people to choose a career in human services.

Supervision and training
CSS Health and Safety regional meetings were hosted throughout the fall to assist Federation member organizations in incorporating workplace practices that can keep clients and staff safe. We have also increased the frequency of our Research Bulletins and re-launched the Research to Practice Network to connect emerging research to front-line practice.

A coordinated system of social care
We are continuing to meet and work with MCFD and MSDPR to inform and influence policy and practice across the sector (in addition to addressing emerging issues such as the Employer Health Tax). We are advocating strongly and striving to make clear the fact that such threats to the sector are also threats to the government’s goal of improving the well-being of all British Columbians.

What we’ve got planned…

This year’s Social Policy Forum will continue the work begun in 2018 and provide new opportunities to understand and address the issues and challenges we are facing. We have designed this event to bring passionate and motivated people together, to create space for problem-solving and planning, and to facilitate collaborative learning, dialogue, and action.

  • A session on changes to Indigenous Child Welfare legislation will assist the community sector in adapting practice to align with these changes.
  • Deputy Minister Allison Bond will present MCFD’s new strategic framework.
  • The Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction will share the efforts underway to reimagine community inclusion and will be seeking feedback from Social Policy Forum participants.
  • Recent issues with criminal record checks have inspired a working session that will engage participants in designing a system for recruiting, screening, and supporting the ongoing learning of staff.
  • Ten years ago we first asked the question “What leadership is called for in these times?” A special session will revisit that question as part of our ongoing commitment to supporting leadership development in the sector.

Overall, our goal for the 2019 Social Policy Forum is to inspire, inform, and empower participants to continue building a stronger and more sustainable community social services sector. We hope you join us. Learn more and register today.

Rick FitzZaland
Federation Executive Director

Early Years Community Consultations

From January to March, MCFD, ECL Early Childhood Consulting, and The Federation of Community Social Services of BC are teaming up to host brand-new training and dialogue sessions for early years providers across BC.

We’ll be coming to locations across the province (see below for a full list of dates and communities) and each date will feature two interactive sessions—one in the morning and one in the afternoon.

MORNING SESSIONS – From 9:00–12:00 you can participate in a community dialogue with the new MCFD Director of Operations for the Early Years. You can meet the new DOO, learn about their role, and share information about service needs in your community.

AFTERNOON SESSIONS – From 1:00-4:00 join a creative, inviting, and supportive workshop, led by Indigenous and non-Indigenous facilitators about cultural safety, respect, and sensitivity—as well how to incorporate it into service delivery in your place of work.

Sign up to participate

Organizations are asked to limit participation to two representatives each; however, the same person does not need to attend both the morning and afternoon session.

Click here to RSVP for sessions in your community. Further details about the exact location of the sessions will be sent out in mid-January. For more info, please contact kathy@fcssbc.ca.

Participants are also being encouraged to complete this short survey which will help the facilitators plan a session that is best suited to the needs of those taking part.

Participation in these sessions is funded by MCFD and is free of charge to Early Years providers in the SDA. There is also a budget to support travel and accommodation costs—please contact kathy@fcssbc.ca if you would like to access this support.

Community Schedule

Click here to RSVP for sessions in your community.

1. SDA 12 Okanagan – January 25, Kelowna
AM Dialogue Session with MCFD Early Years Director of Operations
PM Cultural Safety session with Dr. Margo Greenwood and Dr. Sarah de Leewuk 

2. SDA 11 Kootenays – January 28, Nelson
AM Dialogue Session with MCFD Early Years Director of Operations
PM Cultural Safety session with Dr. Margo Greenwood and Dr. Sarah de Leewuk

3. SDA 42 North Central – February 7 & April 4, Prince George*
AM Dialogue Session (April 4) with MCFD Early Years Director of Operations
PM Cultural Safety session (February 7) with Dr. Margo Greenwood and Dr. Sarah de Leewuk

4. SDA 41 Northwest – February 8 & April 2, Terrace*
AM Dialogue Session (April 2) with MCFD Early Years Director of Operations
PM Cultural Safety session (February 8) with Dr. Margo Greenwood and Dr. Sarah de Leewuk 

5. SDA 31 South Vancouver Island – February 19, Victoria
AM Dialogue Session with MCFD Early Years Director of Operations
PM Cultural Safety session with Dr. Margo Greenwood and Dr. Sarah de Leewuk

6. SDA 32 North Vancouver Island – February 20, Nanaimo
AM Dialogue Session with MCFD Early Years Director of Operations
PM Cultural Safety session with Dr. Margo Greenwood and Dr. Sarah de Leewuk

7. SDA 13 Thompson Cariboo Shuswap – February 25, Kamloops
AM Dialogue Session with MCFD Early Years Director of Operations
PM Cultural Safety session with Dr. Margo Greenwood and Dr. Sarah de Leewuk

8. SDA 43 NorthEast – March 1 & April 9, Fort St. John*
AM Dialogue Session (April 9) with MCFD Early Years Director of Operations
PM Cultural Safety session (March 1) with Dr. Margo Greenwood and Dr. Sarah de Leewuk

9. SDA 21 East Fraser- March 11, Abbotsford
AM Dialogue Session with MCFD Early Years Director of Operations
PM Cultural Safety session with Dr. Margo Greenwood and Dr. Sarah de Leewuk

10. SDA 22 North Fraser – March 12, Burnaby
AM Dialogue Session with MCFD Early Years Director of Operations
PM Cultural Safety session with Dr. Margo Greenwood and Dr. Sarah de Leewuk

11. SDA 23 South Fraser – March 13, Langley
AM Dialogue Session with MCFD Early Years Director of Operations
PM Cultural Safety session with Dr. Margo Greenwood and Dr. Sarah de Leewuk

12. SDA 24 Vancouver/Richmond – March 14, Vancouver
AM Dialogue Session with MCFD Early Years Director of Operations
PM Cultural Safety session with Dr. Margo Greenwood and Dr. Sarah de Leewuk

13. SDA 25 Coast/North Shore – March 15, North Shore
AM Dialogue Session with MCFD Early Years Director of Operations
PM Cultural Safety session with Dr. Margo Greenwood and Dr. Sarah de Leewuk

Click here to RSVP for sessions in your community.

*Please note: For SDA 41, SDA 42, and SDA 43 the two different sessions are on two separate dates.

Report on the 2019 Budget Consultations & Social Services Investments

Last fall, the Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services held public consultations on the upcoming provincial budget. This process happens every year—and every year The Federation presents to the committee and provides input on what we believe should be the priorities for the provincial budget.

The result of those consultations was released in November. The unanimous report (which can be accessed here) contains valuable insights, significant trends, and some encouraging recommendations.

The number of social care organizations and Federation members that participated this year was encouraging. In fact, the representation of Federation members was one of the first things that stood out to me. And I want to thank all of our members who took the time to contribute to the consultation process.

Having so many passionate and informed voices saying the same thing and pushing in the same direction continues to be one of the most powerful tools we have for creating the change we want to see. And the report’s recommendations reflect that.

Social Services Recommendations

A number of community social service organizations—including The Federation and Federation members—expressed concerns about funding formulas and challenges related to financial sustainability and service delivery. As a result, the report’s recommendations related to social services included a number of investments and funding increases (see Page 68).

  • Increase funding available to charities and non-profits (Recommendation 78).
  • Increase investment in early childhood development—especially early intervention and services in Indigenous communities (Recommendation 79).
  • Increase funding for the community social services sector and adopt a flexible, outcomes-based approach in contract deliverables (Recommendation 80).
  • Urgently address compensation issues for foster parents in recognition of the valuable service and care they provide (Recommendation 82).
  • Fund specialized child and youth mental health and substance use services and supports, including collaborative programs like Foundry (Recommendation 87).

Other recommendations speak to income and disability assistance rates, single parent supports, poverty reduction, and trauma-informed care. The full report is available hereThe section devoted to social services is on pages 63–68.

Turning Attention into Action

Overall, the community social services sector appears to be increasingly understood as necessary, important, and in need of government investment. In fact, this was the second year that social services were identified as the top priority in the survey question asking participants to identify their top three priorities for making life better (see Appendix A).

And since the sector as a whole seems to be better understood and more valued—likely as a result of the attention around child care and the overdose crisis—we must work even harder to turn that goodwill into good outcomes.

In other words, the need for us to speak out these issues is as important as it ever has been. It is rewarding and inspiring to see our sector valued and recognized. But we also need to make sure that this attention translates into action—improved procurement practices, stronger and more collaborative relationships, increased investments.

To this end, I encourage all Federation members to learn more about our 2019 Social Policy Forum in Victoria, BC and seriously consider participating. We have designed this event to bring passionate and motivated people together, to create space for problem-solving and planning, and to facilitate collaborative learning, dialogue, and action. You can read about the event and register to participate here.

What’s next…

In February we will once again be attending the budget lock-up with our sector allies. We are also planning a 2019 Budget Review Webinar for members that will take place on Wednesday, February 20th from 10:00–11:30. (We will email login details to members in January.)

We will also be offering more support to help members participate in next year’s budget consultations to keep building this momentum. Next summer we will begin working with members to craft presentation scripts and key messages so that our voice is even louder next fall.

Rick FitzZaland
Federation Executive Director