Over the last five years the Lacombe and District FCSS has not received an increase in funding by the province, causing them to rely more heavily on community partnerships.
The agency relies on the partnerships of many organizations to sustain the programs and services offered, and has grown more dependent since the provincial government has not raised its funding contribution since 2009.
The allocated government money only goes so far, and then the pressure hits the municipality and agency to meet the needs of the program.
“With our organization – the Lacombe and District FCSS – there is FCSS funding but then we do a lot of other programs that aren’t a part of FCSS funding. FCSS eligible programs are a piece of what we do, but we operate a lot of other things that are sort of under an umbrella of FCSS, but are not our programs. For our organization, when you look at the funding piece, there are categories: FCSS eligible, FCSS eligible but non-funded and then non-FCSS funded,” explained Executive Director Susan MacDonald.
“Within the FCSS funding, there is an 80/20 share of costs between the province and the City, where the province pays 80 per cent and the City pays the rest.
“However, for a number of years now, the City has been contributing more than 20 per cent. For a number of years, we were at 23 per cent, but we have had to ask for additional funding that comes closer to 27 per cent for the 2015 budget, so those numbers are climbing.”
Last year, in addition to regular program funding, the City of Lacombe introduced a new program called the FCSS Community Grant Fund.
These funds are essentially passed down from the City, filtered through FCSS and then distributed among local social service programs and family support services.
The addition of the grant program makes the total contribution of the City close to 35% of program funding.
“The City of Lacombe has certainly been a strong partner. They believe strongly in FCSS and the support programs and services that we provide for the community,” MacDonald said.
“FCSS is a non-profit agency that is separate from the City, but the funding from the provincial end goes to the municipality and then the City turns it over to us as an independent.”
The FCSS facility acts as an umbrella and liaison between a vast number of community programs and partners. Within the organization, non FCSS-eligible funding programs include things like Meals on Wheels, Connex, the Small Wonders Day Home and the Caring for Children fund. These programs are operated with partnerships and contributions from local organizations. Sometimes, like with the Caring for Children fund, local organizations like the United Church will step up and make a contribution to a cause that they feel aligns with the services and duties of the FCSS.
“Over the last few years, we’ve had to look at alternative ways of doing things. For example, if one of our staff leaves, we might see if we can streamline that program with anything else so it can still be offered,” said MacDonald. MacDonald said that FCSS would greatly benefit from increased provincial funding so they could offer programs such as an in-house drop-in counselling service at no charge.
“Right now, I think we do an amazing job of what we’re able to offer for how much funding we have, but our budget is very tight,” she said. “We always have to kind of watch how we move along throughout the year, and look ahead into the next year.”