Family Services Association – Toronto and Ottawa
2004 – 2007
In the interests of providing the appropriate supports to the communities they serve, some social service organizations need to ensure their core missions and goals keep up with the changing nature of society. Such is the case with two chapters of the Family Services agencies, organizations that work with at risk individuals, families and communities by offering counselling, education and advocacy services.
The Counselling Foundation of Canada awarded a grant to Family Service Toronto to promote the integration of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered counselling and antihomophobia policies within a partner agency outside the Toronto area. The program met with great success and has hired a one year social work intern who will take their
enhanced skills training into a staff position with the partner agency. The Foundation is now funding an internship for other Family Service chapters or similar agencies across Canada so that they can benefit from this approach to service.
Building off some of the learnings from the Family Service Toronto program, the
Foundation awarded a grant to Family Services à la famille Ottawa (FSFO) for its Around
the Rainbow program, which works with teachers, educators and service providers to
address some of the challenges experienced by children whose parent(s) are gay,
lesbian, bisexual or transgendered.
Recognizing that the definition of family continues to expand and change, the program
aims to reduce the incidence of homophobia, bullying, discrimination and exclusion is
filling a vital need within the area. The program was initially restricted to families with
children aged 0-6, but with the Foundation’s support, the agency is ensuring older
children also receive the benefits of the counselling and education that it provides.
What is most impressive about the Family Service agencies is that, while they’ve been in
operation since 1914, they’re always prepared to adapt and evolve to the social needs of
the day. The services they provide are sensitive to language, culture, ability and sexual
orientation, while client fees are scaled to income. It’s in identifying those who may not
receive assistance otherwise, and having the conviction to design programming around
those needs, that truly distinguishes the Family Service agencies in their community