In brief, Family and Community Support Services is:
a legal partnership between the Province of Alberta and municipalities or Metis Settlements;
an agreement under which locally-driven preventive initiatives can be developed, to enhance the well-being of individuals, families and communities;
a funding arrangement through which the province provides a pre-determined grant for locally-driven initiatives, and municipalities match that grant by providing at least 20 percent of the funding;
a philosophy under which:
- local people can influence things that affect them;
- communities can be innovative and creative;
- citizen participation, self-help and volunteerism are encouraged;
human growth and potential are enhanced;
- continually evolving program that encourages communities to strengthen themselves.
Family and Community Support Services (FCSS) is a unique 80/20 funding partnership between the Government of Alberta and participating municipalities or Métis Settlements. Provincially, the FCSS Program receives its mandate from the Family and Community Support Services Act and Regulation.
The Regulation sets out the service requirements that a municipality or Métis Settlement must meet to be eligible for funding. Section 2.1(1)(a) of the FCSS Regulation states: “Services under a program must be of a preventive nature that enhances the social well-being of individuals and families through promotion or intervention strategies provided at the earliest opportunity.” Section 2.1(2)(b) states: “Services under a program must do one or more of the following:
- help people to develop independence, strengthen coping skills and become more resistant to crisis;
- help people to develop an awareness of social needs;
- help people to develop interpersonal and group skills which enhance constructive relationships among people;
- help people and communities to assume responsibility for decisions and actions which affect them;
- provide supports that help sustain people as active participants in the community.”
At the local level, a municipality or Métis Settlement Council chooses whether to establish an FCSS Program and enters into an agreement with the Government of Alberta to jointly fund projects/services. These projects/services depend on community resources, often involving volunteers in management and delivery.
The FCSS philosophy is based on a belief that self-help contributes to a sense of integrity, self-worth and independence. Programs developed are intended to help individuals in their community to adopt healthy lifestyles, thereby improving the quality of life and building the capacity to prevent and/or deal with crisis situations should they arise.
One of the key principles of the FCSS Program is local responsibility for priority setting and resource allocation. Within the parameters of the FCSS Act and Regulation, each municipality or Métis Settlement determines how the FCSS funding they receive should be allocated to best meet the needs of their community. Local FCSS Programs are part of the larger provincial Program that collectively helps to ensure that Albertans have access to a strong network of prevention supports.
A number of FCSS resources and publications such as the FCSS Program Handbook and the FCSS Program Advice Inventory Listing are available on the Alberta Ministry of Community and Social Services website at this link.
FCSS funding is available to municipalities and Métis Settlements within Alberta that choose to develop and deliver social programs that are preventive in nature. Over ninety-nine per cent (99%) of Albertans reside in communities served by FCSS Programs.
Provincial FCSS grant allocations to municipalities and Métis Settlements totals $101 million as of 2015. Funding for FCSS is maintained at the same level as the previous fiscal year. Each participating municipality or Métis Settlement matches its provincial grant with a minimum 20% contribution and is required to submit an annual report to the Ministry detailing local expenditures for funded projects and services that are eligible under FCSS legislation.
FCSS uses a “people helping people to help themselves” approach and offers a wide range of programs and services at the community level. Please refer to the FCSS Program Advice Inventory Listing (included in chapter five of the FCSS Program Handbook) for additional information. An eligibility assessment tool is also included in this chapter. The FCSS Program Directory lists projects and services provided by local communities across the province.