When the Preventive Social Services Program began in 1966, FCSS Consultants from the Ministry were the main resource for local FCSS Directors. Six consultants worked with local FCSS Program Directors to monitor services that were provided, and assist Program Directors with program management and reporting to the Province. In 1981, when Preventive Social Services was changed to Family and Community Support Services, the Consultants moved from working in the Ministry offices out to the field - they lived in the regions where they worked, and their role expanded to include being a resource around program planning and development, building the community development skills of Directors, and sharing information.
In 1994, FCSS became part of Alberta Municipal Affairs, and the provincial FCSS Program infrastructure was disbanded. This included eliminating the consultant positions. With the loss of the provincial consultants, there was a gap in information sharing, networking and support for local FCSS staff. By default, FCSS Association board members were taking on the role of FCSS consultants - on top of governing the Association - on top of their own jobs - which was understandably difficult to sustain.
In 1998, the FCSSAA Board conducted a comprehensive survey with FCSS Program Directors and local Advisory Boards to determine what kind of supports they needed and how the FCSSAA could assist in meeting those needs.
Four areas for improvement were identified:
- the need for consultation and networking assistance;
- the need for mechanisms to support the use of FCSSAA tools and other resource information;
- the need for an accessible FCSSAA "contact place"; and
- the need for an FCSSAA sustainability plan.
In response to the survey, a proposal was submitted to the Ministry in 1999 for funding to establish an FCSSAA office and create a “Resource Bank”. The Ministry supported the proposal and the Resource Bank opened its doors in June 1999.
The Resource Bank is a resource centre, a reference library, and a communication network for information sharing among FCSS Program staff and boards.
There are hundreds of resources on the bookshelves! Most of it is “how to” books and manuals relevant to FCSS - program planning, FCSS orientation material, community development, needs assessments, prevention and early intervention, provincial issues, social issues, etc.
The Resource Bank is a vehicle of the FCSSAA through which the Association provides support to FCSS Programs across the province. While its primary communication is with local FCSS Program staff and board members, the Resource Bank also communicates with the provincial FCSS Director and staff, FCSS Directors’ Network, the FCSS Program Advisory Team, and other provincial government representatives. The FCSSAA Executive Director and Project Coordinator are available to support FCSS programs, including FCSS orientations for boards and staff, and consultation around program development and delivery - free of charge for FCSSAA members.
Several FCSS-specific resource materials have been developed by the FCSSAA, through the Resource Bank, such as:
- the FCSS Program Contact List (updated and distributed twice a year)
- the FCSS Orientation Modules (for orienting new FCSS board members and staff)
- the FCSS Promotion and Marketing Handbook (a how-to guide and resource tool kit for promoting FCSS)
- a presentation folder and brochure page with the FCSS branding that FCSS programs may use for local promotion (an inventory of the brochures and folders is stocked at the Resource Bank for FCSS programs to purchase at cost).
- the “Understanding FCSS” video presentation. The presentation is available on DVD format, free of charge.
- the “FCSS 101 Orientation” Power Point presentation and handouts. The material is available on CD format, free of charge.
- the “Working in Community” FCSS professional development workshops. The workshops include Introduction to Community Development, Research, Needs and Strengths Assessments, Strategic Planning, and Evaluation Planning. The “Working in Community” workbooks are available from the Resource Bank, free of charge to FCSSAA members.
- the “Advocacy Training” workshop (a how-to guide and resource tool kit for public education and advocacy activity), also available free of charge to FCSSAA members.
For more information about the FCSS Association and the Resource Bank, please contact us.