St. Albert’s Family and Community Support Services (FCSS) is about to undergo some major changes, according to a report presented to city council on Tuesday.
The report, prepared by consulting firm Sierra Systems, is a critical audit of the services and programs that the city’s FCSS program provides, and it recommends a major overhaul of how the city delivers social programs to residents. The new scheme will see the city manage and administer programs, but actual delivery will be left up to individual organizations under FCSS.
“We’d be more of a management function of understanding the need, facilitating with the groups and evaluating what’s happening,” said Chris Jardine, general manager of community and protective services, which oversees St. Albert FCSS.
The city uses FCSS to deliver social programs to residents through half a dozen local organizations like St. Albert Stop Abuse in Families, St. Albert Senior Citizens’ Club and St. Albert Community Information and Volunteer Centre.
According to the report, the FCSS faces challenges that include staffing shortages, a lack of scoring criteria for funding allocation and an overlap of program delivery between the city and its FCSS organizations. Jardine said the new delivery model would limit some problems, and streamline the relationship between the city and organizations.
Another big change will be how the city allocates funding for programs. The points-based funding model looks like a questionnaire that includes a list of mandatory and discretionary criteria. The criteria have not been finalized yet, but some questions include whether or not programs align with the objectives of FCSS, or if it evaluates its own performance.
The idea is that programs will be allocated funding based on their importance to the community.
Leslie MacEachern, executive director of the seniors’ club, was part of the review process and believes it’s time for a change.
“We’re bulging at the seams here,” said MacEachern, noting space and staffing shortages. “We may just change the way that we’re doing business. Because if we always do things the way we’ve always done, we’re always going to get what we’ve always got,” she said.
According to MacEachern, the review included a round table of all FCSS agencies, and although not everyone agreed on each recommendation, it was a positive experience.
“We all agree that it’s not about the organization, it’s about specifically making sure the needs of the residents of St. Albert are looked after.”
Sandy Biener, executive director of Community Information and Volunteer Centre, said the review presents a challenge for all organizations to look at what works and what doesn’t. “Each of us has to even look at our own inner workings and [ask], is this something that we can survive through?” Biener said,
Another report outlining an implementation strategy for the new model will be presented to council this fall.