A brief history of Youth & Family Powell River

November 1990 Ombudsman report, “Public Services to Children and Youth and Their Families: The Need for Integration” raised serious concerns about the fragmentation of community-based services for children and families. Powell River’s response was a “partnership project” proposed by the local Mental Health Centre and Ministry of Social Services. This project would provide a new community-based service delivery model “defined as a comprehensive spectrum of inter-agency services which are organized into a coordinated network to meet the multiple and changing needs of children and adolescents and their families. The … project will integrate selected services offered by … of Social Services and Mental Health … in Powell River into one comprehensive service delivery model under the umbrella of one non-profit society acting as the administrative body for the program” (Callendar/Thio Proposal, 1991).

At the time of this proposal, four non-profit societies administered those selected Mental Health and MSS programs in several locations. After consultation with the community, the societies and the affected workers, work was undertaken to find a suitable site for the project in the fall of 1992. The two ministries committed relocation and start-up funds. Phase One of the project, the relocation of those selected programs into a central facility, was completed when the Youth and Family Services Centre opened its doors in July, 1993.

Phase Two of the project, the contracting of all programs and services to one single administrative entity with fully integrated fiscal and program management, was completed in July 1994, with Powell River Employment Society (PREP) being the administrative body.

PREP developed a separate committee of directors for the purpose of dealing solely with Youth and Family Services administration. The long-term goal was to establish a separate, sole-focus non-profit society for Youth and Family Services. This goal was reached when the committee attained both non-profit and charitable status in 1996 under the name of Powell River Child, Youth & Family Services Society (PRCYFSS). The final step was taken at April 1, 1997 with the legal transfer of contracts, employees and assets to the new society.

Over the first two fiscal years of the new society’s full operation, major developments included addition of a family therapist to the Mental Health program, establishment of a funded Parents Together program, restructuring of Family Support and Outreach programs, participation in community service-planning groups, and a move to a new building on July 1, 1998. In May of 1999, the agency added a Bail Hostel to the contracted programs, and by August 1999, the Learning House daycare and young parent program came under the PRCYFSS umbrella. In January of 2001, two new programs were added: Supervised Access and Home-maker. By March of that year, the Youth Forensics contract had been expanded to include a Youth Violence Intervention Program (Y-VIP) and a Youth Substance Abuse Management program (Y-SAM). Beginning in April 2001, all PRCYFSS foster homes contracted directly with the provincial government child services, and the Agency’s role in residential care became a support to Level 2 and 3 foster homes as well as supporting youth in the transition to independent living.

Partnership programs were developed with School District #47, starting with an extension of the Young Moms outreach services into the classroom student moms program in September of 2001. By September of 2002, the agency also partnered in offering the Connections program of social skill development with the alternate program at the middle school.

In October of 2003, the John Howard Society based in Courtenay withdrew from administration of the Youth Justice Services in Powell River, and that contract came to the agency. April 2004 saw the re-structuring of the family services in to new streams of Family Preservation and Reunification, and Family Support. As well, the Youth Advisory Council moved under the agency umbrella. Subsequently, the agency added Parent-Teen Mediation, Understanding the Early Years, and Parenting After Separation to its programming, as well as some short-term projects. In March 2004, the agency achieved accreditation with the Council on Accreditation (COA). In 2007, after much consideration, the Child & Youth Mental Health services were transferred back to direct Ministry oversight, still on-site in the agency premises. In 2008 the agency achieved re-accreditation with the Council on Accreditation (COA).

In 2009 the agency began to look for ways to support a concerning growth of at-risk youth in the community. This became a major focus for the organization and after piloting a youth housing project, with MCFD as a temporary funding partner, the agency was successful in accessing a federal grant through HRSDC which became the agency’s Support to At Risk Youth (SAY Project) project. This funding allowed the agency to investigate developing a Youth Transitional Housing Project and suite of other supports for youth in the community. The very successful Youth Resource Centre opened in 2011 as a result of the SAY Project. The society has worked hard to keep this unfunded project afloat. In 2012 the society received Gaming funding for this project and its continued success and growth is promising.

In 2010 the agency began serious discussions with PRACL and the provincial government to consider partnering in a one-stop Children’s Services centre. The proposed Children’s Centre would require the commitment of all three partners. Due to the cost of the new facility, the provincial government was not able to continue as a partner in the new building and the one-stop Children’s Centre project was abandoned.

In 2012 the agency achieved re-accreditation with the Council on Accreditation (COA).

In response to increasing cost pressures and a provincial directive to submit a cost reduction plan for PRCYFSS future operations, in July of 2013 the Board began to consider an invitation from PRACL to examine the cost savings and efficiencies of a single organization. The proposed new structure was to require the dissolving of the society with assets and contracts being absorbed by PRACL. However, in December of 2013 the Board received an invitation to partner with School District #47. This new proposal would allow the society to remain an independent society, offered reduced costs that would allow the society to introduce immediate new supports and resources in the form of a Family Resource Centre, and promised an ongoing partnership for the society to grow into delivering community outreach programming with School District #47. After reviewing the options, the Board agreed to vigorously pursue the partnership with SD #47 in order to continue the society’s work.

We have now relocated to Oceanview Education Centre and are enjoying the great new facilities for all of our programs! We invite you to drop by.