Vancouver Aboriginal Child and Family Services Society (VACFSS) is a non-profit society providing service to urban Aboriginal children and families living in the Greater Vancouver area.  VACFSS is the first urban Aboriginal agency to receive Delegated Authority from the Provincial Director of child welfare, and as a result is able to focus on a stronger community and better outcomes for the children and families we serve.

Maintaining Delegated Authority is critical to our success, and, from a governance perspective, requires some limitations to membership and the role of the Board of Directors.

What it means to be a Member:

Because VACFSS was incorporated under the BC Society Act, it has members and not shareholders.  At a time when some think that people don’t have enough impact on the world we live in, VACFSS is offering a chance for members of the community to get involved in the welfare of Aboriginal children and families in Vancouver.  Membership with VACFSS is a means by which Aboriginal people can exercise their right to improve their world and that of Aboriginal children and families in need.

Responsibilities of Board Members:

Generally, non-profit governance focuses on the fiduciary responsibility that a board of directors has in exercising its authority over the explicit public trust that exists between the mission of an organization and those whom the organization serves.

Article 7.2 of the Delegation Confirmation Agreement specifies that “the VACFSS Board will maintain a governance structure that provides overall strategic direction and vision for VACFSS and which is not involved in the management of the day to day operations of the Agency by the CEO.”

Further, in the context of Aboriginal Child and Family Services, AOPSI states that governance refers to the following activities:

  • Setting Agency vision and establishing a strategic plan
  • Establishing overall policy direction congruent with CFCSA and AOPSI for the operation of the Agency
  • Hiring the Executive Director/Program Director who has a background and experience in child welfate, and
  • Ongoing relations with the First Nations governing body or Aboriginal community.

The VACFSS Board of Directors operates within a model that distinguishes between strategic leadership and operations/management. The Board of Directors and the CEO have distinct and complementary responsibilities in advancing the mission of VACFSS.

The Board of Directors provides the overall leadership and strategic direction for the organization. It then delegates authority and responsibility to the CEO in a manner that provides a broad degree of freedom to exercise creativity and judgment to achieve the goals of the organization. The Board of Directors ensures that VACFSS goals are clear, the parameters and approval points are established, and the evaluation criteria are mutually understood and that the organizational goals are compatible with the Delegation Confirmation Agreement (DCA).

Board members must not act in their own interest, but in the best interest of the Society, its members and its clients.  Under common law, Board members owe the non-profit organization three things:

  • Duty of care in terms of skills and competence
  • Duty of loyalty in terms of acting in the best interest of the organization
  • Duty of obedience in terms of being faithful to the organization’s mission and decisions.

Membership Restrictions +/-

Delegation Enabling Agreement was signed in 2001 and a Delegation Confirmation Agreement was signed on December 12, 2007, outlining the terms and conditions of the delegation of the Director’s authority pursuant to Section 92 of the Child, Family and Community Services Act (CFCSA).  Article 6.2 of the Delegation Confirmation Agreement requires that the Society follow Aboriginal Operational and Practice Standards and Indicators (AOPSI).  AOPSI Standard 1 on the subject of governance and reads as follows:

The Agency a governance model that delineates the Agency authority, legal status, accountability, conflict of interest and the roles of key parties.

With respect to conflict of interest in particular, the standard requires that:

The Agency has policies to ensure that Board members, staff and contractors do not have, or give the appearance of, any conflict of interest, and do not use their relationship with the Agency for personal gain, or to impact case management decisions.

VACFSS determined that in order to comply with this standard, membership eligibility would be limited to ensure that there could be no appearance of such a conflict of interest.   Member eligibility is outlined in section 2.3 of the Society’s Bylaws. To be eligible to be a voting member, you must:

  • is nineteen (19) years of age or older;
  • is Aboriginal;
  • is not a client of the Society, nor a parent, foster parent or anyone in loco parentis to a client of the Society;
  • if a former client, parent, foster parent or anyone in loco parentis to a client of the Society, has ceased to be so for at least two (2) years prior to making his or her application for membership;
  • is not involved in any proceeding pursuant to the Child, Family and Community Services Act of British Columbia;
  • is not an employee of the Society nor a Spouse or member of the Immediate Family of an employee of the Society;
  • if a former employee of the Society, has ceased employment with the Society at least two (2) years prior to making his or her application for membership;
  • is not a director, officer or employee of any agency, association, club, society or organization with which the Society contracts; and
  • is interested in advancing the purposes and supporting the activities of the Society.