FCSS continues to expand services
But some programs may be cut if there's not enough funding
Westlock & District Family & Community Support Services continues to expand the variety of services it offers in the community, but it may not have the funds to keep it up.
The most recent addition is safe visitation, offered in partnership with McMan Youth and Family Community Services Association, a private social services organization based in Whitecourt.
“Basically, they supervise the non-custodial parent if the parent has been court-ordered supervised visits, and they do it at our office,” said FCSS director Jayme Baxter. “They actually approached us; they were looking for space.”
That fits right in with the FCSS mandate of supporting families in the community, she added, so it’s a good addition to the organization.
“We’re trying to help people to help themselves, and to create organizational change in our community,” she said.
“We’re allowing for children to still have healthy visits with their parents, even though previously there was no space available for them to do that in Westlock.”
The project is relatively new, having started just last month, and no clients have used it yet.
Another very successful recent addition to the services FCSS provides is counselling, a three-year pilot project that began in spring 2011.
The initial structure was to use deferred revenues to bring in a psychologist two days per month at an annual cost of $12,000. Clients would pay anywhere from $19 to $106 per session based on their household size and income.
That program has proved to be so popular in the first year that FCSS has added another counsellor four days per month, for a total of six counselling days available — all of which get booked solid.
“It’s been huge. Miriam’s booked solid and so is Diana,” Baxter said.
Unfortunately, unless funding can be secured to turn the pilot project into a permanent fixture, it is in jeopardy of shutting down.
“That would require money from the municipalities, which I’m not getting,” she said. “If I don’t get some kind of funding for it, the program will be done at the end of 2012.”
Baxter said Westlock County council has been insistent on future FCSS budgets sticking with a funding formula of 80 per cent from the province and 20 per cent from member municipalities.
Last year the FCSS budget called for 25 per cent from the municipalities.
“We’re going to have to lose something, and I’m hoping it’s not the counselling program because it’s so needed in this community,” she said.
Despite the budget concerns, Baxter said there are some programs on the horizon that she’s excited about. First, there are a dozen bus trips, for both seniors and families, to various attractions both inside and outside the county.
FCSS has also received a grant to expand the inter-generational program that is currently offered in area schools. Baxter hopes to partner with New Horizons to have classes “adopt a grandparent” for the school year.
Baxter said she’s also excited about a gala event for Santa’s Anonymous scheduled for Nov. 24; MLA Maureen Kubinec is scheduled to speak and MP Brian Storseth is also expected to attend.
For more information about FCSS programs and services phone 780-349-5900.
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