The dual delays of the COVID-19 pandemic and the provincial election halted work on a number of our key initiatives and priority issues. But the new year has found The Federation team busy at work meeting and engaging with our government colleagues and we are keen to push the agenda forward on these items—especially since many of them have been a focus for The Federation and our members for a long, long time.
Yes, there are still a number of serious challenges we need to address. But at the same time, I truly believe that we have before us the opportunity to make some significant and lasting change in this sector and across the province.
1. Social Service Sector Roundtable
The Social Services Sector Roundtable resumed meeting in late 2020 and the representatives at the table are continuing our work with a three-fold focus on (1) reconciliation and decolonizing BC’s social services sector, (2) the way the government works with the sector around service delivery—including contracting and procurement processes—and (3) human resource strategies and compensation plans for the sector.
The work of the Roundtable will be a key focus for The Federation through 2021 and I believe there is a lot of promise and potential in this initiative—because of who is at the table, because of how everyone approaches this work, and because of the shared commitment to the very important priorities we have set. You can learn more about the Roundtable on The Federation website or you can contact me directly.
2. Child and family services
Things are also ramping up and moving along with MCFD and the child and family serving system. This piece of work dates back to the very beginning of The Federation and our earliest days as an organization. It includes work that took place a decade ago on the Residential Redesign consultations and reports and, over more recent years, has expanded to include a focus on services for children and youth with special needs, child care, and the early years.
We are planning on influencing some significant changes in these systems over the coming year and, to help us make that happen, we are bringing on a new team member to head up the work—some specifically dedicated to heading up our efforts related to systems change within child and family services. The posting is live now on The Federation website and we would very much appreciate it if you could circulate it among your networks.
3. A Stronger, more sustainable sector
We are also focusing our upcoming 2021 Social Policy Forum on child and family services. In addition to presentations by Dr. Cindy Blackstock and Dr. Mona Paré, there will be virtual table topics focused on issues such as child care, mental health, privacy and information sharing, unpaid caregivers, and children and youth with special needs.
If you have participated in the past, you will know that the Social Policy Forums serve as a strategic planning session of sorts, where our members, sector allies, and government colleagues all participate alongside our board of directors to design and plan ways we can build a stronger and more sustainable sector. Learn more about this year’s event and register to attend here.
4. Training & Support
We are also continuing to develop training opportunities for Federation members and to explore new ways to support community social services organizations. We have just kicked off the first cohort of our new Transformative Reconciliation program and the Community Social Services Training Fund will launch in the coming months with both training grants and new online learning options.
It goes without saying that there are many other programs and services that will be continuing through 2021—the sector news updates throughout the week, the Reconciliation Book Club, the bi-weekly COVID and Your Organization calls, regional meetings, the Research to Practice Network, and the Youth Education Bursary Program (stay tuned—applications open soon).
And all of these things are made possible because of you, our members. Your membership and participation and engagement is something we value much, much more than you may realize. I want to thank you for everything that you have done and sacrificed and committed over the past year and I want to thank you for continuing to be a part of this Federation.
Your wisdom and experience and ideas inspire and enable us to do everything that I talk about in these emails and more. So please stay involved, as much as you are able. Attend the general meetings and the regional meetings. Join us for as much of the Social Policy Forum as your schedule will allow. Call us with your questions or concerns or ideas. We’re always here for you.
Federation Executive Director