What Is FCSS?
In brief, Family and Community Support Services is:
a legal partnership between the Province of Alberta and municipalities or Metis Settlements;
an agreement under which locally-driven preventive initiatives can be developed, to enhance the well-being of individuals, families and communities;
a funding arrangement through which the province provides a pre-determined grant for locally-driven initiatives, and municipalities match that grant by providing at least 20 percent of the funding;
a philosophy under which:
local people can influence things that affect them;
communities can be innovative and creative;
citizen participation, self-help and volunteerism are encouraged;
human growth and potential are enhanced;
continually evolving program that encourages communities to strengthen themselves.
Family and Community Support Services (FCSS) is a unique 80/20 funding partnership between the Government of Alberta and participating municipalities or Métis Settlements. Provincially, the FCSS Program receives its mandate from the Family and Community Support Services Act and Regulation.
The Regulation sets out the service requirements that a municipality or Métis Settlement must meet to be eligible for funding. Section 2.1(1)(a) of the FCSS Regulation states: “Services under a program must be of a preventive nature that enhances the social well-being of individuals and families through promotion or intervention strategies provided at the earliest opportunity.” Section 2.1(2)(b) states: “Services under a program must do one or more of the following:
help people to develop independence, strengthen coping skills and become more resistant to crisis;
help people to develop an awareness of social needs;
help people to develop interpersonal and group skills which enhance constructive relationships among people;
help people and communities to assume responsibility for decisions and actions which affect them;
provide supports that help sustain people as active participants in the community.”
At the local level, a municipality or Métis Settlement Council chooses whether to establish an FCSS Program and enters into an agreement with the Government of Alberta to jointly fund projects/services. These projects/services depend on community resources, often involving volunteers in management and delivery.
The FCSS philosophy is based on a belief that self-help contributes to a sense of integrity, self-worth and independence. Programs developed are intended to help individuals in their community to adopt healthy lifestyles, thereby improving the quality of life and building the capacity to prevent and/or deal with crisis situations should they arise.
One of the key principles of the FCSS Program is local responsibility for priority setting and resource allocation. Within the parameters of the FCSS Act and Regulation, each municipality or Métis Settlement determines how the FCSS funding they receive should be allocated to best meet the needs of their community. Local FCSS Programs are part of the larger provincial Program that collectively helps to ensure that Albertans have access to a strong network of prevention supports.
A number of FCSS resources and publications such as the FCSS Program Handbook and the FCSS Program Advice Inventory Listing are available on the Alberta Human Services website at
FCSS uses a “people helping people to help themselves” approach and offers a wide range of programs and services at the community level. Please refer to the FCSS Program Advice Inventory Listing (included in chapter five of the FCSS Program Handbook) for additional information. An eligibility assessment tool is also included in this chapter. The FCSS Program Directory lists projects and services provided by local communities across the province. http://www.humanservices.alberta.ca/documents/FCSS-Program-Handbook.pdf
The following is a list of programs and services that may be offered in a community through the FCSS Program. This list is intended as a guideline only. Assessing the needs of the community is the responsibility of the municipality or Métis Settlement.
a. Services to assist communities to identify their social needs and develop responses to meet those needs, including:
i. raising public awareness around community issues,
ii. developing strategies for community advocacy,
iii. developing comprehensive social community plans and initiatives,
iv. environmental scans, service reviews, strategic planning, program planning, or
v. in-kind support to community-based groups (until they are able to sustain themselves) such as provision of office space, printing, photocopying, help with preparing proposals, etc.;
b. Services to promote, encourage and support volunteer work in the community, including:
i. recruitment, training and placement services,
ii. resources to support volunteers,
iii. volunteer recognition, or
iv. co-ordination of volunteer services;
c. Services to inform the public of available services, including:
i. information and referral services,
ii. community information directories,
iii. newcomer services, or
iv. inter-agency co-ordination;
d. Services that promote the social development of children and their families, including:
i. parent-child development activities,
ii. early childhood development services for children aged 0-5 (excluding child care), or
iii. support services for young children aged 6-12 (excluding out-of-school care subsidies);
e. Services that enrich and strengthen family life by developing skills so people can function more effectively within their own environment, including:
i. mentoring programs,
ii. parenting and family life education and development programs,
iii. programs for single adults and single parents,
iv. courses designed to enhance self-awareness and personal growth,
v. individual, family and group counselling services that are educational and not treatment oriented, or
vi. youth development and leadership services;
f. Services that enhance the quality of life of the retired and semi-retired, including:
i. home support services,
ii. education and information services,
iii. co-ordination of senior services and programs, or
iv. self-help socialization activities.
Services provided under a program must not:
(a) provide primarily for the recreation needs or leisure time pursuits of individuals,
(b) offer direct assistance, including money, food, clothing or shelter, to sustain an individual or family,
(c) be primarily rehabilitative in nature, or
(d) duplicate services that are ordinarily provided by a government or government agency.
Costs Expenditures of the program shall not include:
(a) the purchase of land or buildings,
(b) the construction or renovation of a building,
(c) the purchase of motor vehicles,
(d) any costs required to sustain an organization that do not relate to direct service delivery under the program,
(e) municipal property taxes and levies, or
(f) any payments to a member of a board or committee referred to in Section 3(b)
or (j), other than reimbursement for expenses referred to in Section 3(l).