Back in February, as part of the 2020 provincial budget, we were told that BC’s community social services sector would be receiving funds for training and professional development. We were told that the funding, while one-time-only, would be managed by the sector itself and would include funds specifically earmarked for Indigenous organizations, domestic violence, home shares, and board governance.
Last week, the provincial government announced $10 million of one-time funding to “build capacity, support recruitment and retention, and improve occupational health and safety training programs” for BC community social services—the largest investment of dedicated training funding that our sector has seen in a very, very long time.
I am very pleased to announce that The Federation is now holding two categories of funding resulting from that announcement: a Community Social Services Training Fund to help address recruitment and retention challenges and funds to support the work of the newly-created Community Social Services Health and Safety Council.
How we got here
When the Social Services Sector Roundtable was created in early 2019, compensation equity was top-of-mind for many organizations. And while this was the focus of many early discussions, the roundtable’s mandate was much broader and everyone involved was committed to understanding and addressing all of the factors that affect the strength and sustainability of our sector.
Our sector allies and government partners recognized that without ongoing and appropriate training, the sector was at increasing risk of losing many of its skilled, experienced, and compassionate staff. Everyone at the table understood that providing training and professional development is a necessary part of ensuring that the people we support receive high-quality, evidence-informed services. We also made very clear (as we have advocated for many, many years) that ensuring the health and safety of our staff is a unique challenge that has been ignored for too long and to the detriment of both those who work in the sector and those we serve.
This funding commitment is a huge success for BC’s community social services sector and I am very thankful for the ideas, energy, and time contributed by everyone who helped to make this possible—whether you sit at the roundtable or not. These funds are a result of the sector and the government working together and leveraging the information and insights that helped us to make a compelling, informed argument for this very necessary investment. And while these funds are “one-time-only,” rest assured that the Roundtable will continue to advocate for more sustainable funding for community sector training.
What comes next
We have updated The Federation website with information about both the Community Social Services Training Fund and the money dedicated to the Community Social Services Health and Safety Council (see the section on Health and Safety near the bottom of the page). More information about each will be available over the coming months.
Any organizations that are interested in receiving updates about the Training Fund can subscribe to a mailing list using the form on our website. (Please note: the training funds are available to all social services organizations, not just Federation members.) Updates about the health and safety funding will be communicated by the Health and Safety Council once it is up and running.
Our team is working on launching the Training Fund this fall and we are very excited to support our members and colleagues in developing training and professional development offerings for the sector. And we are also excited about what the Social Services Sector Roundtable will be able to accomplish as it devotes more attention to issues related to procurement and human resources.
As you know, the Roundtable was an invaluable recourse as the sector pivoted quickly and carefully in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We remain very appreciative of and thankful for the leadership and collaboration demonstrated by all of our sector and government colleagues. There is a lot of work ahead of us but it also feels very good to celebrate the successes that result from being altogether better.