The formation of VACFSS began in June 1988 as the Mamele Benevolent Society with a mandate to develop Indigenous child welfare and in-home support programs for urban Indigenous families. Four years later, the Mamele Society was reincorporated as the Vancouver Aboriginal Child and Family Services Society in 1992.
The core program and focus of VACFSS from 1992 to 1999 was family support services. This program offered advocacy and support to families involved with the Ministry and to whom there was a risk of becoming involved in the child protection system. VACFSS also provided cultural support to children-in-care and cultural awareness to caregivers through the cultural program.
In 1996, after a series of community consultations, VACFSS received support from the Indigenous community to assume “designation status,” providing advocacy to families and notifying First Nations when their children were removed from member Indigenous families living in the Lower Mainland.
In 1999, VACFSS started a Guardianship Pilot Project while starting negotiations with the Ministry to enable us to deliver delegated services. The negotiations concluded in September 2001 with the signing of the Delegation Enabling Agreement (DEA) on December 14, 2001. This allowed VACFSS to provide a full range of delegated Resource and Guardianship services and non-delegated services through the Indigenous Family Preservation and Reunification Services.
Immediately following the signing of the DEA, Guardianship was created, with Resources following a year later. And in 2004, Family Support became Family Preservation and Reunification.
VACFSS has continued to grow and evolve toward the goal of full delegation. With the transfer of the child protection function from MCFD in April 2008, we have achieved the goal set out by the Indigenous community nearly 20+ years ago.
Staff Spotlight: Gavin O’Toole
Gavin’s career spans 33-years working with families and youth from across Canada—now he’s ready for his next challenge as the VACFSS Residential Resources Manager.
Tell us about you background.
I grew up on a farm in the Ottawa Valley, meaning a lot of farm work and rural country living when I was younger. My heritage is Irish and English. I also come from...read more