Like any long-term relationship, the one between The Federation and MCFD has had a series of ups and downs over the years. People, priorities, and policies have changed and then changed again. There have been some successes and there have been disappointments. But lately, there have been noticeably more successes than not. And there are a few important reasons why.
We remain adamantly committed to improving services and supports for children in care. At the same time, our work with MCFD has grown more broad. Expanding our focus was an intentional choice. For one, the various projects and initiatives we have been working on with MCFD better reflect the diverse needs and interests of our members. We are also committed to breaking down silos and working with our government partners in a way that more closely reflects the reality for the many people you serve—complex people living complex lives with complex needs.
In addition, the capacity of The Federation team has also increased over the past few years which allows us to dedicate the time needed to build more and stronger relationships throughout the ministry (and across ministries). This also allows The Federation to meet the various challenges we are facing in the same dedicated and informed manner that our partners and members expect.
The position we are in now is the result of years of relationship building and increased collaboration with MCFD. We are involved and respected and it is a lot easier than it used to be to get a meeting or strike a committee or engage on an issue because of the strong foundation we have built. Below are short summaries of a few things we have been involved in recently that resulted from this important work.
CCRR Retendering of Contracts
We have long been seeking a better approach to procurement processes and this was another opportunity we seized upon to do just that. We were mindful of our role and position as advocates during an open procurement process but strived to shift things meaningfully but appropriately. Much of this work involved keeping the community sector informed and involved while working with MCFD to bring concerns and ideas to their attention.
Early Years Engagement
Earlier in the year, we worked with MCFD to host a number of dialogue sessions across the province that were focused on the changes in Early Years services. After community agencies expressed concerns about the changes in early years service delivery, we worked to create opportunities for community agencies and MCFD staff to come together to identify gaps and find opportunities for collaboration.
Another benefit of our ongoing work with the government was when The Federation was invited to sit on the Child and Youth with Special Needs Advisory Committee that was tasked with developing a new framework for CYSN. This was another opportunity for us to bring the voice of community agencies to the table—specifically the experiences, ideas, and challenges identified by programs working directly with children and families with special needs. (This work also informed our submission to the Select Standing Committee on Children and Youth which recently released their report on Children and Youth with Neuro-diverse Special Needs, making 16 recommendations.)
This kind of work takes our partners in government being willing to take some risks, be vulnerable, and take the time to truly engage with us. And it takes our members trusting us and committing to long-term progress and improvements for children, youth, and families in spite of more immediate feelings of frustration and worry. I know that doing so isn’t easy and I want to thank everyone involved—on both sides of these partnerships—for their tenacity, energy, and willingness to take the time to understand each other and build relationships.
As always, if you have questions or concerns about this work or want to raise other issues for us to bring to the table, do not hesitate to contact me.