Changes ahead for child and family services
It’s not only the health regions that will be changing on Apr. 1. The Neegan Awas’sak Child and Family Services Authority is also breaking up.
What that means for the Slave Lake office is that it will become another satellite office in a much larger region – one with the same borders as the new Health Region #7. The new administration headquarters will be in Barrhead.
That’s for Neegan Awas’sak east of Kinuso. Everything west now falls into a new region co-terminous with the new Health Region #7, headquartered in Grande Prairie.
According to the new Region #7 Child and Family Services Authority spokesman Bob McManus, “front-line services will not be affected” by the changeover. In the area of administration, however, it seems likely some Slave Lake jobs will be lost or relocated.
“Administrative efficiencies (will be) created,” says McManus. “There could be some impact there.”
The authority employs 25 people in Slave Lake and Wabasca. Thirteen of those are front line workers.
Unlike the regional health authorities, child and family services does not have money tied up in facilities. That’s why, says McManus, “over 97 per cent of the budget is local initiatives. That won’t be changing.”
McManus says the new regional administration wants input on planning “how to commit our resources.”
Last Thursday the authority held a public meeting at the Sawridge Hotel in Slave Lake to hear from stakeholders.
At the meeting, transitional CEO Gord Johnston and other members of his team had a brainstorming session with Neegan Awas’sak employees, board members and members of other agencies. They broke into groups to discuss four main areas: prevention, preservation, protection and permanency planning. At the end, spokespeople for each group summed up what they’d come up with. Support for dealing with fetal alcohol syndrome, interagency cooperation, incorporation of local knowledge, maintaining partnerships and enhanced foster parent recruitment were some of the suggestions that came forth.
Johnston praised the dedication of the participants, and advised them that administration will continue to seek their input.
“This is not a one-time thing,” he said. “We’re entering a long-term process to build on regional and community strengths.”
Child and family services regions are governed by appointed boards. The minister will appoint the board for the new region #7 after Mar. 31. McManus says it is “probable” that Slave Lake will have a representative on the board.
Two members of the Neegan Awas’sak board are on the ‘transition advisory committee.’ Rhonda Fournier and Alice Reid may or may not be appointed to the Region #7 board after Apr. 1.
The new North Central Alberta Child and Family Services Authority Region #7 will be one of 10 such authorities in the province.
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