Since July 1, 1966, a province-wide organization was formed, designed to provide social services to individuals and communities throughout Alberta.
Originally called Preventative Social Services (PSS), it is today known as the Family and Community Support Services (FCSS). The organization has had an office in Stettler and served the surrounding area since 1973, transitioning from PSS to FCSS in 1981.
The organization is in the middle of its anniversary year, which runs from July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2017.
“We’ve held several events in the past year to celebrate our anniversary,” Shelly Walker, Stettler and District FCSS executive director, said. The goal, she said, was to spread out the celebration over the full year, rather than in one big birthday bash.
Some of the winter possibilities to continue the celebration include some winter fun events like skating or sliding, though nothing has been set in stone as of yet.
“It all depends on the volunteers,” Walker said.
FCSS is a uniquely Albertan organization, as there is no exact equivalent in any other province in Alberta.
The organization develops preventative programs to help individuals, families and the community, and supports programs that fit that mandate.
Since fulfilling the need of a community depends on the community itself, no two FCSS districts offer the same programs. They are tailored to the communities in which they operate, according to Walker.
FCSS receives 80 per cent of its funding from the province of Alberta, with the remaining funding coming from the community in which it operates. That funding, for Stettler and District FCSS, is covered by both the Town of Stettler and the County of Stettler.
Though its budgeting process is not yet complete, the town’s council has ratified its agreement to fund the amount requested late in 2016 by FCSS.
Part of the mission behind the birthday year involves increasing awareness of FCSS programs, what they offer and who is eligible to participate.
“We want people to know who we are and what we do,” Walker said.
In the past year, FCSS has seen more people come through their doors, looking for assistance as they try to cope with financial and emotional hardships caused by the slow economy.
“We have seen a large increase in everything we offer, and a large increase in services we don’t offer,” Walker confirmed.
FCSS’ mandate doesn’t allow them to distribute funding to individuals, nor take intervening actions. All of FCSS funding is required to be preventative – programs are designed to educate and better individuals and families to help them through existing troubles, rather than covering emergency bills or the need for emergency housing, Patrick Callin, FCSS administrative assistant, said.
Callin has been running the Coats for Kids program from FCSS, which collects gently used children’s coats and sees them provided to families in need of warm winter wear for their sons and daughters.
“The support has been amazing,” he said.