The Future of Child Welfare Service Delivery in BC
June 29, 2018

Parenting is difficult under the best circumstances. It is important to consider the complex histories and challenges that clients in the child welfare system experience. At this point in time social service professionals and institutions working in child and family services face a renewed need to assess each case with a trauma-informed lens and make careful and compassionate clinical decisions.

These ideas were shared by Westcoast Family Centres’ Clinical Counselling Supervisor, Kate Saunders, on the 6th of April at Simon Fraser University, as she addressed PhD-level students from SFU’s Graduate Clinical Psychology program, on the topic of Clinical Considerations for Interacting with the Child Welfare System in BC.

Bringing with her over 18 years of experience as a counsellor and parent educator, Kate engaged with the graduate students on topics that ranged from: child and family welfare legislation, social responsibility concerning children with protection needs, and most importantly, addressing the BC child welfare system’s current approach to case considerations, and the need for a broadening of scope and understanding of complex and varied client circumstances.

She shed light on the various ‘layers’ surrounding a client seeking assistance, and the types of services that help to uphold the well-being of their family.  According to Kate, it is important to consider all forms of emotional harm and psychological trauma caused by abandonment, poor parenting practices, or forced separation from a caregiver when assessing a child’s need for protection and welfare. “Additionally, certain types of mental health concerns are more easily acknowledged within the current system and others are less understood, especially in cases where we see recurrent developmental trauma,” says Kate.  One explanation for why this phenomenon exists is due to a lack of updated information on neurobiology. “We have only had the capability to look into the way brain works and processes trauma since the early 2000’s. Many people were educated and trained before this information became widespread”. These natural biases and unconscious ‘blind spots’ that professionals in the field are working under, limit the scope of the definition for mental health and what behaviors are considered to be within an individual’s ‘control’. This is especially true for children in the school system, whose trauma-related disruptive behavior is frequently misunderstood and punished.

Another reality for some helping professionals is that they can operate professionally from their own personal perspective and desire to ‘fix’ the individual or family, rather than empower them to make the best choices for themselves. “The rescuer complex is real! Beware of any tendencies you have to draw personal meaning from being a helper or rescuer as it is a setup for counter-transference. Understanding our privilege as social service professionals is necessary for us to provide service in an unbiased manner”.

Kate also highlighted the importance of identifying and reporting child protection matters promptly and in accordance with the law, in cases where a person suspects child abuse or neglect. Over the years, Westcoast Family Centres has formed strong partnerships with Social Workers through our contracts with the Ministry of Children and Family Development, and Kate spoke about the critical role they play. “It is not our responsibility to perform a thorough assessment or investigation of the risk, it is our duty to report it to the people who are trained to investigate”. To further illustrate the realities of her presentation topics, Kate engaged the audience in hypothetical scenarios sourced from her experiences of clients in a family preservation program and child welfare system. A dynamic audience response showed their intent on critically examining the layered nature of a client’s background and understanding the need for prompt response when encountered with a child needing protection.

Kate left the future SFU clinicians with an inspiring and hopeful message, looking towards the future of child welfare in the region. “The transformative work performed by dedicated individuals in the fields of family and child development have brought us closer to understanding the true resiliency of the human spirit”. To answer the question: how can you tell where trauma ends and mental health begins? Kate states that “you can’t completely tell where trauma begins and ends, so in child welfare always make sure you’re working with your trauma-informed lenses intact”. The best method to help those fighting to make positive changes for their families is for all professionals (social workers, case workers, clinical counsellors, and all helping professionals) to work collaboratively, putting together the best they can offer. The presentation concluded with an interactive Q&A session and a warm appreciation for Kate’s important message.

Westcoast Family Centres Society continues to offer strength-based parenting programs and educational workshops for social service professionals. 


Ashlin Roche

Marketing and Communications Assistant





Family TIES Workshop at Circus Play Café
March 21, 2018

We are excited to continue our relationship with Circus Play Café. Our registered practitioners conduct workshops for parents and guardians in the community. Our parent/guardian focused groups are designed to strengthen and empower individuals. Some workshops held in the past include:

 - Understanding your Child’s Temperament (NEW)

 - Positive Discipline

 - Emotion Regulation for Parents and Children

 - Sibling Rivalry

 - Kids Have Stress Too

To find upcoming workshops, click here to visit our calendar or visit Circus Play Café for more information.

Tri-Cities Needs Assessment 2017
December 18, 2017

In May 2016 Westcoast Family Centres Society convened a Child Care Panel in an effort to better understand the child care needs of the Tri-Cities community. This project was a key part of the Coquitlam River United Way Avenues of Change initiative. The panel identified that a child care needs assessment would be useful towards the goal of developing a Tri-Cities child care action plan. As a result in September 2016, WFC contracted Jane Beach and Associates to undertake a Tri-Cities child care needs assessment. The work was undertaken by Jane Beach in collaboration with Barry Forer from the Human Early Learning Partnership (HELP) at UBC.  The primary purpose of the child care survey was to collect basic demographic information about the households in the Tri-Cities with children 0-8 years old, and detailed information on respondents’ child care use, needs, and preferences.  There were a total of 988 valid respondents, representing 1,550 children aged from 0 to 8 years old in the Tri-Cities community. Respondents provided their views and opinions of their child care arrangements: 46.7% Parental Care, 39.6% Licensed Care and 13.7% other Child Care Arrangements.

The report completed in September 2017 is an instrument towards dialogue of the future of child development needs in the Tri-Cities community. The information collected is not intended to identify specific unmet needs for child care, nor a concrete child care plan on its own but to inform key stakeholders towards the future of child development. Westcoast Family Centres Society is committed to continue to provide services towards child development, strengthening families and their communities in the Tri-Cities and across the Lower Mainland. 

Please find important links below: 

  • Press Release
  • Infographic
  • Report Summary
  • WFC Nominated for Not-For Profit of the Year (Tri-Cities)
    October 19, 2017

    Westcoast Family Centres Society has been nominated for a Tri-Cities Chamber of Commerce 2017 Business Excellence Award in the category of Not-For-Profit of the Year. The Business Excellence Awards were created to recognize outstanding businesses in the Tri-Cities. Each of the nominated businesses and individuals have demonstrated excellence in business and a passion for the Tri-Cities community.  The categories are:

  • Business of the Year (1-10 employees)
  • Business of the Year (11-30 employees)
  • Business of the Year (30+ employees)
  • Young Professional of the Year
  • Business Leader of the Year
  • Not-for-Profit of the Year
  • Community Spirit Award

  • CLICK HERE to see the full list of nominees. 

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