Karin Debenham, Morinville’s new Family and Community Support Services Coordinator, poses at her desk. Debenham, an avid gardener and dog lover with 15 years FCSS experience, began her role Dec. 3. – Stephen Dafoe Photo
By Stephen Dafoe
Morinville – There is a new face in the Town’s Family and Community Support Services (FCSS) Department. Karin Debenham took on the role of FCSS Coordinator Dec. 3, filling a position that had been vacant for a few months. Debenham comes to Morinville with 15 years experience, having previously worked in the field in Spruce Grove.
Beyond that, Debenham has been involved in community development work for 35 years. The FCSS coordinator said her community development work involved working with the community to determine what the community’s needs were and then determine how to deliver those needs through change. “Family and Community Support Services is not just about family; it is about community,” Debenham explained. “The support piece is supporting through change. If you were sitting here asking me how to deal with a family problem, my role is not as a counsellor. My role is to identify what resources there are inside or outside of the community to assist you progressing through your situation.”
It is work she loves and she is pleased to be back at it. Debenham spent the last two-and-a-half years working with the United Way in Edmonton as project manager for their Early Years Continuum Project, an ongoing initiative dealing with early education and care.
An avid gardener, dog lover, and mother of two teenage children, Debenham felt a quality of life decision had to be made. “My position took me out to rural areas of the province and I do not want to travel,” she said. “I’m at a point in my life where I want to slow down but I still want to be involved. Apart from a quality of life decision, I have returned to the FCSS fold. It is a good place to be. It is good work.”
FCSS is a program governed by the FCSS Act. Funding is covered in an 80:20 ratio – 80 per cent from the province and 20 per cent through municipal taxes. Debenham explained although the funding model is the same community to community, how each municipality directs its programming can vary. “As long as the funds are spent within the FCSS Act and Regulation, which is provincial legislation, each municipality can look at its own dynamics, decide where the priorities are and address those priorities,” she said, noting many of those priorities are determined by the FCSS Advisory Board. “In my experience, the Advisory Board is a very important part of FCSS planning and implementation.”
Although FCSS deals with intervention by helping people deal with the situations they find themselves in, much of the work deals with preventative approaches. While the intervention work deals with setting people up with the resource referrals they need, the preventative side deals with ensuring people have the skills and programs needed: parenting courses, youth programs, and creating partnerships with diverse social service groups to provide information.