New grant to support sustainable community services
Community social-service agencies and families stand to benefit from provincial investments in research and a new grant program that will support long-term sustainability of the community social-services sector.
The province announced July 26 it is providing $1.5 million in grants to help community social-service sector agencies upgrade their technologies and another $1.5 million to support research to help ensure long-term sustainability of the community social-services sector.
“The grants will help up to 150 organizations with technology needs for both staff and their clients,” said Nicholas Simons, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. “This could include providing clients with laptops or tablets to help them access services online.”
The Community Social Services Sector Technology Fund will be administered by the Federation of Community Social Services. The application process will apply an equity lens to ensure small, rural, remote and Indigenous organizations are well served by the fund. The application intake will open in September 2022.
“Providing accessible supports and services has become more necessary and more challenging than ever before,” said Rick FitzZaland, executive director, Federation of Community Social Services. “During the pandemic, social-services organizations used technology in creative ways to ensure that the people they serve were not left more isolated and vulnerable than they already were. These funds will help address the increasing costs of connecting with clients, working remotely, and managing data and information appropriately.”
The research funding will focus on addressing the gaps identified in the 2021 Social Services Labour Market Research Project. This includes working to incorporate Indigenous knowledge into organizations and exploring the potential to expand peer-support models of delivering services. The Social Planning and Research Council of B.C. (SPARC) will lead the research.
“The community social-service sector is diverse and represents every interest and place in the province. It also possesses a depth of expertise and ideas about local investments and local action that can help to build and strengthen our communities,” said Lorraine Copas, executive director, SPARC BC. “Through leading this research, SPARC BC holds a strong interest in working with community social-service leaders from across the sector to engage in knowledge development to support local innovation and to ensure that the sector has the capacity to take on the work expected of it.”
The Social Services Sector Roundtable, formed in May 2019 and chaired by the minister of social development and poverty reduction, provides a forum for government and community social services sector agency representatives to work to ensure co-ordinated social services delivery. Since 2019, the government has provided $20 million in new grants to the sector to support recruitment and retention, training, reconciliation and service delivery.
More than 2,000 agencies in the community social-service sector provide support to individuals and their families throughout B.C.
More than 45,000 British Columbians work full- or part-time in the social-services sector.