Perhaps one of the city programs closest to local residents, the Family and Community Support Services department presented to city council at their regular meeting Mar. 26. Councilor Dean Billingsley was the lone absentee from the meeting.
Wetaskiwin FCSS was represented by manager Linda Mueller. FCSS are province-wide, municipally based departments that are funded 80 per cent from the provincial government and 20 per cent locally.
However, as Mueller pointed out, the FCSS departments, which were born in the 1960s, were the province’s approach to giving municipalities social support with a local flavour. While most of the funding is provincial, the focus has a clear local focus. Mueller stated that only about 4,000 Albertans out of the entire province do not have access to an FCSS department.
Mueller noted FCSS has strategic directions which guide the programs in the proper direction; funding earmarked for FCSS also has certain stipulations on it.
Mueller stated FCSS programs in the Wetaskiwin area tend to be collaborative: they involve many different partners. Some of the programs and services available in the Wetaskiwin area include the homemaking service, meals on wheels, home care and aids to daily living.
Councilor Alan Hilgartner asked about block parties, and whether they are popular. He said he liked the idea because it brings neighbours together. “It’s a very good community building, getting to know your neighbour (program),” said Hilgartner. Mueller said the program is still running.
Councilor Wayne Neilson asked if participation numbers in FCSS programs are available.
Mueller said FCSS staff are aware of number in general for some programs; for example pink shirt day is obvious because they know how many pink shirts they’ve given out. However, with an event like a block party, exact numbers are not available.
Neilson said it would be nice to know how many people are using certain programs.
While she was speaking to council, they also handled another agenda item with Mueller, FCSS community grants. This is funding from the FCSS department granted to clubs and organizations who apply and also meet eligibility requirements.
The agenda stated the following groups applied for the following funds: the Wetaskiwin Boys and Girls Club ($20,000), Catholic School Services ($4,900), Wetaskiwin Victims Services ($5,000), Wetaskiwin Society for the Promotion of the English Language and Literacy ($8,050), Wetaskiwin Medi Lend Society ($4,000) and Wetaskiwin Regional Public School, Wellness Support team ($1,500).
Mueller noted that more requests were made than was funding available.
Councilor Patricia MacQuarrie asked how new groups can access the funding. Mueller said FCSS accepts applications from any group that meets the guidelines.
Councilors unanimously approved the FCSS grant requests.