Federation Projects & Issues Update

Since the spring, The Federation team has been focusing a lot of our time and attention on supporting you and your organizations through the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. But there remain many other very important issues and projects that we are also working on.

We understand that many of the issues Federation members were facing before the pandemic continue to have a significant impact. And we know that some of these systemic, underlying issues have contributed to the stress and difficulty of the past several months.

I want to assure you that your Board of Directors and the entire Federation staff team are working on both sides of the equation—the immediate pandemic-related issues like the roll-out of pandemic pay and COVID testing as well as long-term, ongoing advocacy efforts around supports for children with special needs, Police Act reform, and recruitment and retention.

As always, I encourage you to reach out if you have questions, comments, or ideas about the projects and issues detailed below (or any other Federation work). Your expertise, time, and creativity are the most valuable resources we have when it comes to building the kind of strong, sustainable community social services sector we all want.

Thank you for being a part of this Federation and for supporting these very important pieces of work.

Children and Youth with Special Needs

The Federation was involved in the research and writing of the report released last week by BC’s Representative for Children and Youth, Left out: children and youth with special needs in the pandemic. It does an excellent job of capturing the many challenges that families of kids with special needs have been facing during this pandemic (and before).

We are fully supportive of the recommendations within the report, but we also believe that there are some structural issues that may make implementing those changes and solving those problems especially challenging.

We at The Federation are increasingly curious about whether the CYSN portfolio belongs in the same ministry as child protection. With childcare moving from MCFD to the Ministry of Education, we find ourselves questioning whether or not a similar move (perhaps to a ministry dedicated to mental health) is necessary in order to see real change for children with special needs and their families.

Community Social Services Training Fund

Work is currently underway to launch the first call for applications to access the training funds that were allocated last summer. The first round of applications will open in January. To receive updates about this project and future application windows, sign up to join the distribution list on The Federation website.

Federation response to BC’s Police Act reform

Last month, we sent a survey out to the membership seeking feedback and guidance for our response to the province’s reform of the Police Act. We received over 30 responses from 25 different organizations.

The information gave us a clear picture of the different roles that the police play in relation to the work you do in community—what is working well (collaboration, relationship-building) and what needs to be changed (more education and training for officers, police responses to social issues).

Like many of the issues that our sector deals with, the complexity of this situation is striking. Our working group of staff and board members discussed how, in many cases, police are brought in to deal with what is essentially a breakdown or gap in the social care system—but without having the proper tools or skills. So, while substantial changes to police activity and oversight are certainly needed, the issues at hand are not exclusively policing issues and they cannot be solved simply by reforming the Police Act.

We are hoping that the weeks ahead will offer more information about the next steps regarding the provincial government’s Police Act reform process. We will keep members updated and informed as we design and deliver our response.

Social Service Labour Market Research

The final report of this extensive and deep dive into the recruitment and retention landscape of BC’s community social services sector was completed in the fall of 2020. The Social Service Labour Market Research Project Final Report is currently working its way through the required government processes before it can be released and shared publicly.

Ongoing Work With Government

There are also a number of other issues, working groups, committees, and initiatives in which The Federation and the provincial government are actively engaged. These include the System of Care (formerly known as Residential Redesign), the Collaborative Contract Reference Group, Childcare Resource and Referral Planning, Reimagining Community Inclusion, and the Social Services Sector Roundtable.

Our work with the Roundtable was paused during the election but we are very eager to resume working with our government colleagues on the important issues at that table. (The Roundtable will resume meeting as of next week.)

As you may have read in our letters to the Premier and the new social care ministers last week, we are very keen to build upon the momentum of the past two years. There is a great deal of promise and potential in the collaborative nature of this group and I believe that the priorities that have been collectively identified will be pivotal to the future strength and sustainability of our sector.

Rick FitzZaland
Federation Executive Director