Projects and Issues Update: Reimagining Community Inclusion & A New Community Social Services Sector Council

The past few weeks have been a whirlwind of issues and meetings and consultations at The Federation. We’re continuing to work and advocate on many different fronts but there are two specific initiatives that I want to update members about this week—the Reimagining Community Inclusion initiative and the Community Social Services Health and Safety Council.

Reimagining Community Inclusion

The Reimagining Community Inclusion (RCI) initiative has just released its consensus report and I encourage all of you to read it. The report includes the project’s 10-year vision, guiding principles as well as a road map with key milestones and next steps. You can access the full report here.

The Federation was proud to be involved in this initiative and sent both staff and member representatives to participate in various stages of the process leading to this point. The RCI Partnership Table guiding the work to date also includes self-advocates, families, community service providers, Indigenous organizations, advocacy groups, and government representatives—all of whom showed up and contributed over the course of the 6-month process and all of whom have confirmed their intention to continue working together to give life to this proposed vision and create a better, more inclusive future for BC’s community members with disabilities over the next 10 years.

Relatedly, the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction recently announced the appointment of Ross Chilton as the new CEO for CLBC who will help guide the process forward. As such, we anticipate learning more about what the RCI report means for CLBC, government ministries, and the community sector over the next few months.

Community Social Services Health and Safety Council

A number of years ago we began working with CSSEA and WorkSafe BC to address rising claims rates in the community social services sector. I am very pleased to report on some positive outcomes emerging from that work.

A pilot project that explored various factors affecting lower claims rates wrapped up last year culminating in a Summary Report and a Community Social Services Health and Safety Manual (both of which are available to members below).

Community Social Services WorkSafeBC Pilot Project Report

Community Social Services Health and Safety Handbook

Moving forward, a health and safety council is being established to work with stakeholders and sector partners to foster healthy workplaces, improve injury prevention efforts, minimize the impact of illness and injury in the workplace, and reduce the associated costs of such things.

The council will provide support to all employers (union & non-unionized) which are registered within the Counselling or Social Services (CU#766007), Life and Job Skills Training (CU#766010), and Residential Social Services Facility (CU#766017) classification units and will work to promote positive, proactive relations between unions, WorkSafeBC, and the sector (both employers union and non-union).

I often remark about “playing the long game” when it comes to certain issues and agendas and this new collaborative model is one such example of how The Federation is intentionally and purposefully working to improve service delivery while also making our sector stronger and more sustainable.

If you have any questions about either of these initiatives, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me.

Rick FitzZaland
Executive Director 

Make Your Voice Heard: BC Budget Consultation Dates Announced

Last week, the Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services announced the dates and details for the Budget 2020 consultations. This year, the consultations have been moved forward significantly and will be taking place across BC during the month of June.

This is an excellent opportunity to inform next year’s provincial budget and draw attention to the issues we are facing. There are signs that this government is listening and paying attention to our sector so we must do our best to take advantage of this opportunity.

Consultation Dates and Information

The process for making a written, audio or video submission, or completing the online survey will be available beginning June 3rd; details can be found here. The committee’s first public hearing is on June 10th in Colwood. The current list of dates and locations is below. Please see the full Public Hearing Schedule for all locations, addresses, and times.


June 10 – Colwood
June 11 – Kimberley
June 11 – Castlegar
June 12 – Kelowna
June 12 – Kamloops
June 13 – Courtenay
June 13 – Qualicum Beach
June 14 – Vancouver
June 17 – Prince Rupert
June 18 – Kitimat
June 18 – Prince George
June 19 – Fort St. John
June 19 – Quesnel
June 20 – Abbotsford
June 21 – Surrey

Online registration for the public hearings opens Monday, May 27th. Teleconference opportunities can be requested by calling the Parliamentary Committees Office at 250-356-2933 or 1-877-428-8337. The submission deadline and consultation closing is 5:00 PM on Friday, June 28th.

Sector Strength and Sustainability

The Federation will be focusing our presentation on the need for a strong and sustainable community social services sector and what needs to change in order to make that a reality. We have seen progress over the past year, but there remain a series of financial pressures we are struggling to deal with. Combined with challenging procurement processes and the legacy of long-term underfunding, this leaves our sector in a precarious and fragile state.

A strong and sustainable social services sector is critical to the economic and social prosperity of this province. In order to realize that goal, we need a better funding model, we need a stronger relationship between the sector and the government, and we need to be at the table when important decisions are made. Those are the points we will be driving home. We will be sharing the full text of our submission with members in the coming weeks.

Make Your Voice Heard

We encourage all of our members to present or make a submission. One way or another, your voices need to be heard. This committee needs to know what you’re experiencing and what you’re struggling with. And they need to hear what must change in order to ensure that all British Columbians have the supports they need where and when they need them.

You can learn more about the consultation process and how to participate here. If you or your organization need assistance preparing a submission or presentation, please contact Rebecca at The Federation office. We’re here to help!

Rick FitzZaland
Executive Director 

Federation Research Bulletin: May 2019

This month’s research bulletin includes articles and reports about ways to improve outcomes in therapeutic residential care programs, models for reducing aggressive incidents in residential youth care, child-centred decision-making approaches, screening tools for vulnerable youth, and factors that strengthen support networks for youth aging out of care. It includes the following articles and summaries.

  1. Determinants and outcomes of social climate in residential youth care
  2. Aggressive Incidents in Residential Youth Care 
  3. Decision-making in foster care: A child-centered approach
  4. Understanding support network capacity during the transition from foster care
  5. Screening for human trafficking among homeless young adults

For more information, additional research, and/or if you have feedback about how we can make this member service more useful, please contact The Federation’s Research and Policy Coordinator, Pam Alcorn at

Determinants and outcomes of social climate in therapeutic residential youth care: A systematic review

Netherlands/Norway, 2019

To date, studies on the effectiveness of therapeutic residential youth care (TRC) offer limited evidence on how TRC achieves treatment goals. The goal of this systematic literature review was to learn more about how results are achieved, rather than investigating the achieved results themselves. To do so, the researchers focused their research specifically on how the social climate within TRC programs affects outcomes.

They found that a wide variety of determinants in terms of staff, youth, and organizational characteristics were associated with a positive social climate and subsequently positive outcomes for youth.

Staff members that incorporate the strengths of the youths into their daily lives and treatment plans were associated with a much more positive perception of the social climate. For youth, feelings of involvement in the treatment program, being supported, living in an open unit, and having a social personality match with the therapist are things that best created a positive social climate.

In terms of organizational characteristics, TRC programs that are small in size, structured, have daily intensive routines and protocols in place for dealing with incidents are most related to a positive social climate—likely because these aspects create more space for a constructive focus on the treatment of behavioural problems and promote a sense of autonomy in young people.

Factors that affect social climate in a negative way included: a large number (more than 5) previous placements, past inability to get along with staff, and less positive attention from staff as a result of pretreatment profiles. As such, the specific problems that youth bring with them when entering TRC programs require consideration in order to tailor treatments plans that may create a supportive social climate and promote positive outcomes.

2. Aggressive Incidents in Residential Youth Care

Netherlands, 2018

This research study compares a series of residential youth care models and the frequency of aggressive incidents within each. Specifically, the researchers compare the number and nature of aggressive incidents in open and therapeutic group models to those in semi-secure and secure care residential facilities.

Their key finding was that those youth in semi-secure or open were generally more positive about their opportunities for growth and that the perception of a positive climate was related to fewer aggressive incidents. The key determinant associated with an increased likelihood of aggression was the length of residency—the longer a stay, the more likely were aggressive outbursts.

However, the researchers admitted that there are a number explanations for such differences, including the nature of the residency (voluntary/non-voluntary), the previous number of placements, past/existing psychiatric diagnoses, and differences in youth experiences of prior facilities.

Overall, this paper provides a number of insights into considerations related to best supporting youth and minimizing aggressive behaviour in youth facilities. Of key importance are (1) group dynamics, (2) individual circumstances preceding youth’s residency, and (3) the specific ongoing training for staff that may or may not enable them to foster learning, enable community participation, and provide unique and individual support based on the needs of each youth.

3. Decision-making in foster care: A child-centered approach to reducing toxic stress in foster children

USA, 2018

In the complex decisions involved in foster care, the needs of adult caregivers and the needs of children may sometimes reflect competing priorities. Other times, priorities are not always as clear. Sometimes, foster children are negatively impacted by adult-centred decisions that cause trauma beyond that which led to the child’s entrance into the system.

This article explores several considerations that (if acted upon to the extent possible at all levels of the system) may lead to a reduction in the emotional trauma caused by the impact of foster care decisions. Though there are systemic, legal, and personal barriers that can make child-centred decision-making challenging, the authors offer three considerations that they suggest will optimize child-centred decision-making and reduce stress: (1) reducing the time a child must wait for a stable placement, (2) a focus on critical-thinking versus rigid rule adherence when making decisions, and (3) increased communication between the child and foster parent.

Overall, the researchers urge that (where there is room for discretion) the child’s need for stability and security should take precedence sooner rather than later in the decision-making process. As such, they recommend that current policies should be reconsidered with this in mind.

4. Understanding support network capacity during the transition from foster care: Youth-identified barriers, facilitators, and enhancement strategies

USA, 2018

This study explores the relationship between foster care experiences of youth and the support network available to young people as they exit the foster care system. The researchers conceptualize this relationship in terms of the capacity of the network members to provide adequate support and the stability of the support network—the cohesion within and across supportive relationships over long periods of time.

The most consistent theme for youth who felt well-supported was self-determination—both in terms of specific relationships with service providers and in terms of learning to or being able to “work with the system” and direct services according to their own preferences and self-identified needs. Importantly, a perceived lack of self-determination was most often identified by youth who voiced unmet support needs (e.g., difficulties understanding and accessing the services for which they were eligible, not having a voice when it came to important placement decisions).

The most common youth-recommended strategies (for improvement) were less likely to focus on specific relationships or support types, and more likely to be skill development strategies to strengthen their overall capacity to access both formal and informal supports and resources.

5. Screening for human trafficking among homeless young adults

USA, 2018

Human trafficking is a public health issue affecting homeless young adults across the world—even in developed western countries. However, screening tools for trafficking this population are often lengthy and onerous. The aim of this study was to develop a sensitive, brief, and user-friendly trafficking screening tool for homeless young adults.

The new screening tool created and validated by researchers is called Quick Youth Indicators for Trafficking (QYIT) and is, allegedly, the first highly sensitive, comprehensive trafficking screening tool that is truly brief and does not require a trafficking expert to administer. According to the research, QYIT allows providers to effectively screen for trafficking among homeless young adults—an affirmative answer to at least one QYIT question is 86.7% sensitive and 76.5% specific in identifying a trafficking experience.

And while QYIT over-identifies trafficking among homeless young adults, a substantial portion of those who were false positives for a trafficking experience had other trauma and/or exploitation histories that required a more in-depth interview with clinical staff. In other words, the study also demonstrated that young adults involved in illegal activities and transactions unrelated to commercial sex may also be in exploitative situations.

Though the screening took is relatively new, the researchers argue that the use of QYIT at appropriate agencies will better enable social service providers to systematically detect and serve homeless young adults who have labour and/or sex trafficking experiences.