An Overview of Current Status of Brant Family and Children’s Services
Brant Family and Children’s Services is an agency mandated by the Province of Ontario through the Child, Youth and Family Services Act to ensure the protection of children from abuse and neglect. Our agency serves the people of Brant County and, through our Native Services staff, the indigenous peoples – other than band members of Six Nations of the Grand River – residing in Brantford, Brant and Mississaugas of New Credit First Nations.
Brant FACS is governed by a Board of Directors made up of members of our community, as well as appointed representatives from Mississaugas of New Credit First Nations. Any member of the public living or working in Brant County can become members of our Agency. Members are invited to attend general meetings, vote on policy and elect our Board of Directors.
The ongoing daily workload of a children’s aid society ranges from answering routine inquiries to carrying out serious investigations into allegations of abuse or neglect of children. Our Agency’s Intake Workers are required by law to investigate all such allegations promptly and thoroughly.
Although children deemed to be in need of protection are brought into the care of Brant FACS, our Agency first looks at alternatives available to this last resort. The philosophy of our Agency is expressed in our motto Keep the Family Circle Whole. Our goal is to keep the family unit intact by helping the family cope with its problems. Even in cases where children have had to be removed from the home, our aim is to return the children to their family as soon as possible.
In line with this philosophy of rehabilitation, our Agency assigns a worker to a family that is having difficulties. The assigned worker draws up a plan of care which may include counselling and/or referrals to outside agencies or to one of our own programs.
Research and experience tell us that five basic conditions, when prevalent, may lead to child maltreatment:
- Poor caregiving skills
- Psychological difficulties
- Isolation from support
- Attitudes towards violence
The Agency’s programs have been designed to help people cope with these conditions.
FAMILY SUPPORT SERVICES provide concrete social and psychological assistance to individuals, family or groups. We endeavor to maintain the well-being of all members of a family unit, as well as to increase the family’s capacity to cope with the factors that have threatened their well-being.
CHILD AND ADOLESCENT SERVICES are developed and offered in order to provide the emotional and educational supports required so that behavioural problems can be diminished in the child and family relationships may be repaired. Youth programs recognize that all teens must accomplish the developmental tasks of achieving personal autonomy from parents, career choices, sex role identity, and morality. Our independent living program is designed to adequately prepare youth to leave our care and live independently.
CLINICAL SUPPORT SERVICES are provided to individuals and families who have been traumatized either from family violence, physical or sexual abuse. These programs require a more clinical focus and include play therapy and group processes that enable both children and parents to come to terms with the traumatic events of their lives. We use the word enable because underlying all of the programs provided by our Agency is the concept of “enabling” or “empowerment”. This is not sophisticated social work jargon. It is simply a way of treating people.
Our goal as social workers in all our programs is to make it possible for people to achieve a sense of personal and family well-being. The people who access our services, come here as members and consumers of social services. They are entitled to evaluate our programming and feedback their criticisms and suggestions to our staff and to the Board of Directors.
Children and youth in our care who exhibit disturbed behaviour and who could benefit from a “structured” setting may be placed in an institution or group home within or outside Brant County. Specialized workers oversee and monitor all placements made at Outside Paid Institutions (OPI’s).
Sometimes, despite the efforts of all parties concerned, attempts at family rehabilitation fail and children may come under the permanent legal care of our Agency. Such children may be placed with adoptive families who are carefully screened to ensure that they will be able to meet the children’s individual needs.
Our Agency’s mandate is a difficult one. We are grateful for the support we receive from the community, including foster parents, volunteers, businesses, service and church groups and many other organizations and individuals. Their continued support will help us serve the children and families of Brant County in the years to come.