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