Support workers from across northwestern Alberta were in Slave Lake recently for a conference.
Slave Lake hosted the Northwest FCSS regional meeting in early September. FCSS stands for Family and Community Support Services, which is a partnership between the Government of Alberta and municipalities. Wabasca is the easternmost community in the northwest region. It goes south to Grande Prairie and north past High Level.
The meeting was planned for May, says Darcy Comeau, FCSS coordinator for the Town of Slave Lake. But all of the communities were either evacuated because of wildfires threatening their communities or hosting evacuees. In most communities, FCSS workers help with something call Emergency Social Services (ESS), which includes helping with evacuees.
“They go hand in hand,” says Comeau of FCSS and ESS. However, “that (ESS) is not our big focus.”
At the meeting 35 out of 50 registered were able to attend. The others weren’t because of hosting wildfire evacuees from the Northwest Territories.
“Basically, it is social programming that is preventative in nature,” says Comeau about FCSS.
Preventative refers to stopping problems from starting which could cause “a burden to other financially supported government programs,” adds Comeau. These government programs include Alberta Health Services and Children’s Services.
Children’s Services is the part of the government which takes children into foster care, if they are not safe in their homes.
In Slave Lake, FCSS provides this support through direct and indirect programs.
FCSS directly runs anger education for adults, seniors supports, monthly family and youth activities, and the volunteer income tax program.
Indirect programs include FCSS grants and partnerships with other organizations. Partnerships include helping the Children’s Resource Council to offer the babysitting course and home alone. In September, FCSS partnered with the Slave Lake and Area Mental Health Network (SLAM) to put on Parade of Programs.
The meeting, included FCSS workers, FCSS directors, and board members or municipal councillors. From the Town of Slave Lake, Comeau, Tammy Kendall (seniors coordinator), and town Councillor Ali Mouallem attended.
Part of the meeting is to decide on regional priorities to be brought to the provincial meeting in November. The rest is promoting local programs and personal wellness.
At the meeting, Trina Napier with Slave Lake AHS Addictions and Mental Health did a presentation on stress. Pearl Lorentzen and Joy McGregor from SLAM presented on the working being done in Slave Lake and the Rural Mental Health Network. The participants ate supper at TA’s Asian Grill and Steakhouse. Kendall led a beading activity after supper.