Andrew James Koster, M.S.W., R.S.W.
Andrew Koster has 45 years of continuous experience with various Children’s Aid Societies in Ontario including positions as a front line worker, supervisor, and Director of Services and has co-lead groups for adolescent and adult sexual offenders as well as men who have committed domestic violence. He is presently the Executive Director of the Brant Children’s Aid Society and Chair of the Board of Directors of the Child Welfare League of Canada.
Since 1994, Andrew has authored reports into the cases of children who have been killed or hurt while under the care of child welfare agencies in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Manitoba, Ontario and British Columbia. He was a roundtable participant in the Goudge Inquiry in Ontario and was seconded by the provincial government in 1999 to review Aboriginal child welfare agencies and in 2006 to develop an Accountability Framework for Child Welfare. He also participated in the computerization of the Child Wellbeing Scales as a tool for looking at Outcomes in protective services.
Andrew has an extensive history of teaching Child Welfare theories and best practices, including group work at the McMaster School of Social Work, writing and assisting in curriculum development and providing training for child protection managers and staff under the auspices of the Institute for the Prevention of Child Abuse and the Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies. He has provided other training, consultation services, and policy reports for various groups, government and child welfare agencies across Canada, including three generations of Child Abuse procedures in Ontario, and has been qualified to testify in court on several occasions as an expert witness in child welfare practice, child death reviews, and sexual abuse treatment for offenders.
Andrew is currently teaching a management course for social workers at Renison University College, University of Waterloo.
Brant FACS currently has two Directors of Service; one Director of Aboriginal Services, one Director of Special Projects, and one Director of Administration. These five Directors combined have over 110 years of service with Brant FACS. They support a leadership team of 25 Managers and 190 support staff and frontline workers who carry out parental decision-making authority for 297 Children in Care (2017).
Margaret Barr has over 30 years of experience at various levels of practice and leadership in both child welfare, mental health, and education. Her skills and knowledge encompass areas of change management, project management, strategic planning, community relations and building partnerships with membership in local and provincial networks for domestic violence, diversity, equity and inclusion, and early years. She possesses a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from McMaster University, a Masters of Educational Psychology from the University of Western as well as leadership certificates from Queen’s University (School of Business) and Schulich School of Business. Margaret is seen as a strong advocate of children’s needs and rights and actively promotes a shared responsibility with the community for child safety and well-being. Much of her practice has been committed to supporting community-based service delivery that strengthens families and the ability of parents to care for their children incorporating values of diversity, equity and inclusion and early help.
Jill has worked as a Social Worker for over thirty years both inside and outside the child welfare sector. She began her career in child welfare and later worked in Employee Assistance Programs, in direct service and training. She later worked with various private companies offering Management Training. She returned to direct service working with young pregnant and parenting youth through a Young Parenting Resource Center in Hamilton. During her 12 years working with young mothers and fathers, she learned a great deal about the experiences of youth with child welfare from a user’s perspective. In 2001, Jill returned to child welfare at Brant FACS as the Foster Care Recruiter and Trainer and then later served as Manager of the Child Development Unit.
Jill is currently Director of Service with Brant Family and Children’s Services. With service users as teachers, she is committed to promoting critical thinking and innovation with a field that often defaults to mediocracy for compliance purposes. With a vision of having hope replace fear in child welfare, she works to support innovation within a system that has the power to create as many problems as it solves. While completing her M.S.W. at Master University in 2010, Jill’s thesis “A Kingdom in Trouble” focused on the Integration of Child Welfare and Community Development which was recognized and awarded the University’s Judge Hugh C Arrell Prize.
Jacquie has worked in the children’s mental health and the child welfare field for more than 30 years. She held a variety of different roles in urban and rural agencies as a residential worker, a day treatment worker, a group and individual therapist in a program servicing familial sexual abuse, a frontline child protection social worker, a child abuse specialist and a school-based social worker and a resource manager before assuming her current role in 2008. Jacquie has offered leadership in the development of our family engagement strategies, our critical incident response process and deepened the clinical practice of the agency utilizing principles such as Signs of Safety, Family Group Decision Making, Clinical Supervision and Community-Based Practice. She has taken a leadership role in enhancing our community partnerships. She has enhanced the service offered by our foster care system to families and children and guided our establishment of kinship care and service. She also developed a Child Witness Program. Jacquie is an actively involved co-facilitator of the PARS (Partner Assault Response Program) offered by our VAW partners at Nova Vita. Jacquie has provided training and mentoring throughout her career in a number of settings.
Gissele is currently the Director of Administration and Quality Assurance. Her portfolio includes Human Resources, Information Technology, Finance and Quality Assurance. She has worked at Brant FACS for over 5 years managing the Quality Assurance Department. Previously, she had experience with online learning, strategic planning, program evaluation, project management (including budget development and tracking), statistics, and research.
Provincially, Gissele has chaired the OACAS project on psychotropic medications among children in care and is involved in the Residential Services Review Workgroup for the OACAS.
Her publications include research on ADHD, Psychotropics, and Children in Care, Quality Assurance, Worker and Client engagement and Youth Voice.
Gissele is currently enrolled as a part-time M.S.W. student at Laurier University for the Fall of 2017.
Leslie has more than 18 years’ experience working at Brant FACS in the Native Services Branch. Prior to coming to Brant FACS, Leslie worked in Social Services field with the Six Nations community for eight years. She is currently serving as Director of Aboriginal Services, overseeing 4 managers and approximately 30 staff. She has an M.S.W. achieved through her studies at Wilfred Laurier University and a Bachelor of Social Work and a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology achieved at McMaster University. Leslie held various positions with Brant FACS a Family Service and Children’s Services before becoming a Protection Service Manager. She also served as a Resource and Children’s Service Manager for a number of years.
Leslie worked with the traditional leadership at Six Nations in the early development of Customary Care agreements. A Cayuga and advocate of indigenous peoples’ right to self-government and self-determination herself, Leslie has been concentrating on the transition of child welfare services to Six Nations of the Grand River. Leslie’s priority has been to ensure that the needs of all clients are met and that families and children remain safe during the transfer process. Leslie remains focused on finding a path to reconciliation in Child Welfare for Indigenous people.