Lacombe and District FCSS recently announced the beginning of their 50 year anniversary celebrations.
Susan McDonald, FCSS executive director, said they have several celebrations planned throughout the year to mark the occasion.
“We have a community celebration on May 26 here at the Lacombe Memorial Centre. More details and invitations will go out in the near future on that,” she said.
McDonald said the need for FCSS in the region has grown since Alberta’s economy began to struggle.
“Whether they are struggling with unemployment or financial issues, we are able to help people as much as we can and also provide referrals. They can access some of our programs and services that help bridge the gap,” she said.
Recently, FCSS was forced to eliminate several programs effective the end of March due to provincial budgeting.
“Parentlink, Healthy Families, our Parent Enhancement Program — which is rural play groups and our Early Years Coalition. They will no longer exist in their current format,” McDonald said.
The Province announced a new framework called the Family Resource Networks, which McDonald hopes will fill the gaps left behind by that cancelled programming.
“We did apply as an agency to provide services under that Family Resource Network. We haven’t heard back yet if we were successful. We are anticipating we will know by mid to late March. These programs will roll out by April 1, so we will see how that goes,” she said.
McDonald said they anticipate they will be able to continue to provide some similar services but she expects them not to be as robust as they once were. She added the need for these services is something that their clients voiced throughout the process.
“The feedback from parents, families and caregivers has been overwhelmingly positive remarks about how much they have enjoyed the programs and how much they will really miss it. Parentlink and Healthy Families help families connect with their community and provides them support. That will be a big gap, but we are hoping the future will bring some new programs and services,” she said.
With provincial funding, which makes up 80 per cent of FCSS budgets, up in the air — McDonald said the need for their community partnerships is even greater.
“We do many other programs and services that aren’t necessarily covered by FCSS funding,” she said. “For example, many of the programs you see throughout the year like Tools for School and Fill-a-Fridge are provided by community partners. Our major ones are the City of Lacombe and Lacombe County, but we also have many other community partners.
“Our recent program review, we found we have over 116 partners. That is business, schools and individuals, community groups. Partners are critical as well as our volunteers.”
FCSS usually have between 350 and 400 volunteers take part in their programming every year.
Lacombe Mayor Grant Creasey said it is a true milestone for FCSS to reach 50 years serving the community and their services are critical to the community.
“The programs and services they deliver are geared towards the vulnerable in our community, as they are across the province. I think it is important for us to continue to support the work they do. In saying so, I believe they do an admirable job of presenting those programs in an efficient manner. I expect they will continue to do so,” he said.