Advocacy and Opportunities: The New Social Sector Roundtable

Over the past few years, one of the most intentional and important areas of focus for The Federation has been the strength and sustainability of the community social services sector.

Earlier this year, many were taken by surprise when government funding for wages negotiated under the most recent collective agreement did not include an equivalent wage increase for all workers in the sector.

As we have made very clear on several occasions, The Federation is very concerned about the impact this will have on labour market conditions in a sector that is already struggling with recruitment and retention of skilled, qualified workers.

The Federation has long been focusing much of our advocacy efforts on issues related to procurement, labour market development, and increased costs of doing business. And this development added yet another burden to a sector that is already struggling to meet the growing needs of our communities.

The impact of advocacy

After several months of intense advocacy and engagement, the provincial government convened a roundtable of sector advocates to discuss these issues and how they might be addressed.

This meeting included The Federation, PARCA, the Ending Violence Association of BC, the BC CEO Network and the BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres. (Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction, has been given responsibility for leading this process on behalf of the other social care Ministries, the Ministry of Finance, and the Public Sector Employer’s Council.)

This is an opportunity The Federation has been working very hard toward for many years. Compensation for the sector is very much on the table but this is also our opportunity to raise other important issues related to the overall and long-term strength and sustainability of our sector—things like funding for adequate training and supervision, levels of administration funding in contracts, increased funding for off-reserve Indigenous organizations, and equal access to services and supports for Indigenous individuals who are not living or connected to their Nation.

A small working group of roundtable members has been struck including a representative of The Federation. To date, the working group has met three times and has committed to taking actionable recommendations back to the larger roundtable.

The next roundtable meeting is on August 1st. I will be sharing progress and developments with our members as things move forward.

Taking advantage of this opportunity

A fundamental part of our approach to our advocacy and engagement efforts at The Federation is to create the conditions for change so that when opportunities (such as this one) present themselves, we are ready and able to take full advantage of them.

The sad truth is that many of the issues we are currently dealing with could have been avoided or mitigated had this roundtable been convened earlier. And we are making sure that this fact is fully and completely understood by everyone at the table.

But these urgent compensation issues have opened a door; they have given us a starting point and a platform from which begin to address the labour market crisis in our sector and inform social policy development. The entire Federation team—both staff and board members—have been preparing for a moment like this for years and we are taking advantage of this opportunity.

We are raising the complex issues that plague our sector and we are working hard to create a new, more collaborative, and stronger relationship between the government and our sector.

If you have questions about this work or want more information about the roundtable, please feel free to contact me.

Rick FitzZaland
Executive Director


Clinical Supervision Survey

This important survey is the result of a small working group of Federation members who have come together around issues related to supervision in our sector and will benchmark critical data about clinical supervision for Federation members.

Information garnered will also be used to understand clinical supervision practices to inform decision making for future training, network, and education opportunities. Responses will be kept confidential and only generalized results will be shared. No released results will identify your agency.

Depending on who is completing the survey within your organization, the survey may take as few as 5 minutes and as long as 15 minutes. Once completed, your name will be entered for a prize draw of six select BC Wines.

If you have any questions concerning the survey, please contact Member Engagement Coordinator Kathy Powelson at the Federation office. Please forward this survey to as many people within your organization that you deem appropriate. The deadline for completing the survey is July 31. Thank you in advance for contributing!

Rick FitzZaland
Executive Director


2019 Annual General Meeting Recap

Thank you to those of you who attended our Conference and Annual General Meeting in Penticton last month. It was a full two days of learning, sharing, and connecting. Below is a review of some key items for those that weren’t there (and those who might appreciate a recap).

Annual Report

At the AGM, I shared The Federation’s 2018-19 Annual Report with our membership. The report is also available on our website—please take a look if you have not already done so.

It contains info about our growing membership, the many initiatives we have been involved in over the past year, and some of the directions we are heading over the coming months.

Board Elections

The AGM also involved board elections. I would like to congratulate and welcome our new board members: Liz Barnett (Bloom Group), Christine Mohr (Options), Michelle Bell (Cowichan Valley Youth Services Society), and Vicki Kipps (Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows Community Services). You can view the full list of your current Board of Directors here.

I would also like to thank outgoing board members Deborah Joyce, Ingrid Kastens, Melanie Mendonca, and Karen Dickenson Smith for their time, energy, and commitment to improving this organization.

Award for Excellence

The Annual General Meeting also saw the awarding of The Federation’s 2019 Award of Excellence to Ingrid Kastens, the outgoing ED of Pacific Community Resources Society. During Ingrid’s 30 years in leadership at PCRS, she, the agency, and its services have won dozens of awards for leadership, service excellence, innovation, inclusion, advocacy, staff well-being, and more. Congratulations!


The Federation membership took time to recognize Ingrid Kastens, Deborah Joyce, and Sandra Bryce on their retirement (or planned retirement) from the sector. All will be moving on to new things over the next few months and we wish them all the best.

We also ratified a new member at the AGM. Please join me in welcoming Eastside Family Place to The Federation.

Save the Date

Save the date for the Federation’s next learning event on October 16th and 17th in Richmond! More details will be available next week.

Rick FitzZaland
Executive Director


Federation Research Bulletin: July 2019

This month’s research bulletin includes articles and reports about child protection work, community-based child welfare supports, rural and remote social service delivery, social worker workloads, compliance, and the development of PTSD in youth. It includes the following articles and summaries:

1. Social workers’ views on community involvement in child protection work in Italy (2019)
2. Social Service Delivery in Two Rural Counties (2019)
3. Authors of accountability: Paperwork and social work in contemporary child welfare practice (2017)
4. A core role for cognitive processes in the acute onset and maintenance of post‐traumatic stress in children and adolescents (2019)

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

1. Social workers’ views on community involvement in child protection work in Italy

This report summarizes a pilot project in Italy that examined community involvement in child protection work through the experiences of 24 child protection workers. The authors explore the factors that influence the ability of social workers to involve a child’s community and the reasons why a community‐based approach (that directly involves local institutions and policies) is important.

Though the socio-political systems in Italy are somewhat different from those in Canada, the implications in this article should resonate with BC’s social services sector in terms of the value of community relationships, the impact of diverse community organizations, and challenges faced by social workers.

The majority of the social workers who participated in the pilot project described a child welfare system in crisis where people are increasingly pressured to find new ways to respond while working within formalized and bureaucratic structures.

However, the authors also identify key factors that can engender more community-involved child protection work such as specific training on community engagement practices and organizational shifts that acknowledge and allow creativity within strict legislative and structural contexts.

2. Social Service Delivery in Two Rural Counties

This short research brief highlights both common and unique issues faced by service providers in two US rural communities trying to support vulnerable people facing challenges.

At the same time, the authors explore the struggles faced by community social services organizations in rural areas (program funding shortages, little program flexibility, long wait lists, high fuel costs, long commutes to reach clients) and the needs of the people they serve living and working in rural communities (low wages, seasonal or resource-based work with irregular hours, transportation barriers, child care scarcity).

This article will be relevant for BC service providers as it compares two different approaches to community-based collaboration (one more successful than the other) and offers evidence underlining the importance of community-based service creation and delivery.

3. Authors of accountability: Paperwork and social work in contemporary child welfare practice

This analysis drew from a study in which child welfare professionals in the US were interviewed about their relationship to “well-being” and the things that promote or prevent well-being in their daily practices. Participants consistently identified that the practices they consider essential to promoting well-being are often constrained by system-wide efforts to ensure compliance with child welfare mandates.

During in-depth interviews with 28 child welfare professionals in a large Midwestern city, casework was described as having two key dimensions: social work (he work of building strengths-based relationships with clients) and paperwork (requirements to document practices to ensure compliance).

The authors explore the kinds of accountability paperwork enables and how these forms of bureaucratic authorship relate to other forms of communication and relationship-building in contemporary child welfare systems. For example, what is the “tipping point” at which the amount of paperwork impedes the overall goal of the system (promoting child and family well-being)? How can paperwork and accountability needs be reimagined to enhance social workers’ ability to develop and maintain relationships?

This research is very relevant for our sector as it frames and explores a tension inherent in child welfare systems which are designed to be both “people-changing” (legal and social mandates) and “people-processing” (legally accountable for moving children and families through the systems). It also reiterates a number of themes in a recent Tyee article about the experience of BC social workers.

4. A core role for cognitive processes in the acute onset and maintenance of post‐traumatic stress in children and adolescents

This article summarizes a longitudinal study about the cognitive processes that occur during the development of PTSD in youth aged 8-17 following a traumatic event. The authors explore why and how some trauma‐exposed youth go on to have persistent PTSD while others who initially have a severe traumatic stress response later experience a natural recovery.

Perhaps the most notable finding was that the presence of negative appraisals of the trauma and its consequences disrupted the recovery process. In terms of clinical implications, this suggests targeting negative appraisals in the psychological prevention and treatment of PTSD in youth.

A further implication is the need to recognize and address ruminative thinking styles in youth affected by trauma, rather than assuming that the sole cognitive style adopted by youth is avoidance. Some youth work very hard to make sense of their trauma, but this article suggests that such efforts may be counterproductive or futile. As such, the youth may need greater support when attempting to process their experiences and help to regulate the time they allocate to such processing.

These admittedly “novel” findings provide a cautionary tale for practitioners when it comes to the cognitive processing of traumatic events (as well as the use of interventions and screening tools) and suggest further investigation into the “avoidance” component of PTSD is warranted.