Q: Aren’t social services agencies just offices of the government?
No, Community Social Services organizations are independent registered societies. For many Social Services Organizations, funding for specific services and programs comes though government contracts or grants. They are, however, each governed independently through a Board of Directors and most, if not all, provide services that go well beyond government supported programs.
Q: Most individuals and families don’t need social services, they are just for low income families right?
Actually, it is estimated that 2 out of every 3 British Columbians will access Community Social Services at some point in their lives. Wealth is not necessarily an indicator of individual or family stability or well-being; social services clients come from all income brackets, education levels, cultural and religious backgrounds and genders.
As well, Community Social Services Organizations are not only service providers addressing crisis and family or individual challenges. They work closely with other community partners to develop, and often lead, community development initiatives such as job creation through social enterprise, youth engagement, community planning to support livability and affordability and family friendly events and celebrations, just to name a few!
Q: How do I know my confidentiality or that of a family member would be protected if we needed to access services?
Q: How can I find out which community services are available in my community?
In the Columbia Basin Region (East and West Kootenays) a comprehensive map of Social Services agencies is being developed through the Rural Development Institute and the Kootenay Boundary Community Services Co-op. Local listings of services are available in some communities or online such as in the communities of Trail, Cranbrook and Kaslo. Municipal offices (City Hall) are a good place to request information on local services, as well as your regional Columbia Basin Trust office. Most organizations offer referrals and work with partnerships, so if you are looking for a specific service or program, just ask any local social service non-profit and they can refer you as well.
Q: How can we encourage the development of new services in our community when we see gaps? – e.g. we could really use a youth drop in centre here.
Often, years of grant writing and fundraising are pursued before a new service is offered in a community. Enquiring at your local social service non-profit is a good starting point if you would like to see services added – the program you want to see might be in the planning phase already! New programs and services are always required to demonstrate community support and need so your letters, emails and testimonials are very helpful, shared with local social services groups or through letters to the editor. Reaching out to municipal counsellors is another great way to raise awareness about service needs.