Provincials Roundtable (Provincial Coalition)
Through 2009 and 2010, the Federation collaborated with several other provincial organizations to build a coalition of provincial organizations that agreed to work together on issues of shared interest and concern. Their initiatives included: public polling to assess community interest and awareness about the community social care sector; collective advocacy to inform and challenge the recent RFP for Employment Development Programs to ensure that more vulnerable populations are well served under the new model; undertaking extensive research on the size, scope and contributions of the community social services sector as a basis for pubic policy action.
Operational sustainability is a critical issue for the majority of federation members. Operating costs (i.e., non-wage costs) for community service providers have been increasing, often beyond the level of inflation, and in most cases, funding levels have not kept pace with these increases. The Federation has been actively working on the sustainability issue for the past three years and it remains one of the top 5 priorities for the Federation and for the MCFD Regional Executive Director-Federation Working Group. The Federation has engaged in: research to understand and quantify the issue; advocacy to bring the issue to the awareness of decision-makers and funders; strategizing to identify opportunities to reduce or manage operating costs within the sector; and action to address selected cost pressures.
In 2007 the Federation partnered with MCFD to undertake research in an effort to better understand the nature and degree of the operational sustainability issues. This culminated in a joint report on sustainability and in the mutual acknowledgement that there were significant issues that compromised the ability of the community services sector to sustain operations and the delivery of high quality services. Based on these findings, the Federation prepared submissions to the Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services and recommended that $20M be allocated to MCFD’s budget for the purposes of addressing operational sustainability within the community services sector. Presentations were made to the Committee by Federation members in 4 regions. Each presentation emphasized the core messages, and then added information pertaining to agency, community or regional impacts in order to illustrate the serious and far-reaching impact. Although the Committee acknowledged the challenge and recommended that government address this matter in the 2008 budget, additional funds were not provided and the strain has continued to build.
In February of 2008, the Minister of Children and Family Development attended the Federation’s general meeting and spoke to the operational sustainability challenges facing the sector. He indicated that his staff would work with the Federation leadership and staff to develop strategies to address sustainability, notably through: procurement and contracting processes; one-time-only grants to accredited agencies in recognition of the higher administrative costs associated with accreditation; and a review of recording and reporting requirements with the intent to reduce and streamline expectations and consequent administrative costs.
The Federation continues to monitor operating cost pressures and the impact upon agencies, as well as the progress being made on the above-noted initiatives. We meet on a quarterly basis with the Minister and with the Regional Executive Directors and sustainability is a recurring agenda item.
Recording and Reporting Working Group
This joint MCFD-Federation initiative arose from the operational sustainability research undertaken by both parties in 2007. In that study, participating agencies noted that the recording and reporting requirements set by MCFD had been increasing and many of the requests were inconsistent with the ways in which data was collected and reported for other funders and accrediting bodies. This added to the workload of agency staff, and often did not result in knowledge that supported continuous quality improvement. The report suggested several areas which could be investigated to help reduce or contain costs, including whether or not the increased funder recording and reporting requirements across ministry programs could be reduced, streamlined or rationalized in order to reduce associated costs.
In response, the Federation and MCFD agreed to co-sponsor and co-chair the Recording and Reporting Review Working Group with a one year mandate “to ensure that the information collected and reported enhances the agencies’ and MCFD’s capacity to meet quality assurance and accreditation requirements and to identify and quantify options to reduce, streamline or simplify recording and reporting processes in order to contain or reduce associated costs.” The Working Group is comprised of Ministry representatives from each region and diverse programs, and representatives from the community services sector drawn from the membership in the Federation, BCACDI and PARCA.
The project began in April 2008 with the following objectives:
- Document the current recording and reporting requirements set by MCFD for contracted community service providers, for the services and programs identified in the Catalogue of Services (for MCFD and for childrens’ services currently delivered by CLBC) including for example, the preparation of a “Collation of Recommended Reports”.
- Inform all participants of the recording and reporting requirements and challenges (primarily as related to MCFD requirements but also as required by other funders in order to gain a better understanding of the agency challenges).
- Identify opportunities and options to reduce, streamline or rationalize recording and reporting processes.
Action taken on the above:
- The Working Group met for a full day planning session in June 2008.
- In the fall of 2008, a sample of Federation member agencies were surveyed to determine the extent of reporting requirements and to identify both unnecessary reporting requirements and promising practices.
- Interviews were held with MCFD regional staff in the Fall and Winter of 2008-09 to determine what expectations they had of the agencies they worked with and what questions they needed to be able to answer.
- Findings and a proposed strategy were presented Regional Executive Directors and Federation Board members in March 2009. Key principles and criteria were agreed upon and it was agreed that an effort would be made to reduce the number of indicators for reporting to 5-6 per program that would be standardized across regions
- Two pilot projects are underway to assess the viability and benefits of reducing the number of indicators that are reported out on - one with Infant development Programs and the other with the Sexual Abuse Intervention programs.
- Recommendations for further implementation brought forward in fall of 2009