When people are in need of welfare, they do not have to confer with the government directly sometimes to obtain it. A social agency, defined “formally structured unit, sanctioned by society, whose goals and activities focus on meeting human needs.” (Turner, Pg 209) is simply known as one of the contacts between the government and the population that helps the people in need to obtain the services and resources of our social welfare system. On the other hand, human service organizations are known to be the secondary settings for social welfare practice who employ social workers to help meet human needs. Although social agencies and human service organizations share common features, they also have characteristics that differentiate them from others. Social agencies and human service organizations are divided into three different sectors: government, voluntary and commercial and this is where the term “a mixed economy of welfare” comes in. (Turner, Pg 209)
Government agencies are split into federal and provincial jurisdiction and they are responsible to provide welfare for income support, health care, child welfare, employment insurance, vocational rehabilitation, housing, corrections and services to veterans and First Nations citizens. (Turner, Pg 211) The federal government deals with welfare that impacts the people directly such as health care and employment insurance whereas the provincial governments give their responsibilities to municipal and local governments to take care of the community as a whole such as old age homes and daycares. Voluntary agencies are not depended on the government. They are defined as “agencies that are nongovernmental, non-profit organizations formed independently of state mandate.” Voluntary agencies provide two direct and indirect social services. Direct social services include getting people physically involved whereas indirect social services do not require direct face to face interaction. There are 161,000 volunteer organizations in Canada (Turner, Pg 212) and thousands of private agencies are sponsored by charitable, philanthropic, national organizations and special interests groups that are not incorporated or registered. Agencies in commercial sector are known as a profit-making sector and are not as large as the other two sectors. There are some services neither the government nor the voluntary sector provides. Therefore, agencies in commercial sector tend to provide services such as employee assistant programs (EAPs) and they are also known for reacting faster than the government and voluntary agencies in some areas such as residential care, chronic care and nursing care. However, since these agencies only aim for profits they reduce and provide inadequate services to clients occasionally if they have to in order to be financially active.
For this assignment I decided to choose an agency from the voluntary sector because I personally believe that they are the most important in all three sectors. I interviewed a settlement worker, named Neeru Singal at Brampton Multicultural Community Center (shortly known as BMC), one of the biggest non-profit organizations in Brampton, Ontario. The main reason why I chose a non-profit organization is because they provide extensive services such as sports and recreation, arts and culture, social service programs, medical programs, anyone who needs support, and most importantly help new immigrants settle into the community. By providing excellent services like these, the organizations enhance the quality of life in societies. Most importantly, it is very hard to imagine a community with no voluntary agencies. It allows everyone in the community to get involved and live an active life.
Agency origin and brief history
When the immigration rates were increasing rapidly in the 1980s, a large number of South Asian immigrants were trying to settle in cities such as Brampton and Mississauga. During this trend, a lot of newcomers needed support in finding jobs and settle in the community. This is when a group of diverse professionals decided to establish a multicultural community center in Brampton in order to meet certain needs of the people. Brampton Multicultural Community Center was established in 1987 as a non-profit organization in order to help newcomers settle and integrate in the society. In 1987, it all started with volunteers in volunteer management program who were involved in a variety of programs such as the Immigrant Settlement & Adaptation Pro (ISAP), the Job Search Workshops (JSW) and Multicultural Settlement & Education Partnership (MSEP). Neeru Singal has mentioned that volunteers are a backbone of their organization and they are known for creating a positive impact in their client’s lives. Brampton Multicultural Community Center slowly implemented Newcomer Settlement Program (NSP) and Social Service Program (SSP) in order to expand their services and connect people. This community center currently has about ten programs including services for seniors and medical screening.
Purpose and function
Neeru Singal has mentioned that the organization’s motto “connecting people, build communities” explains everything when I asked about the main purpose. The mission statement for this organization is to enhance the capacity of newcomers to let them participate more effectively in their communities. Therefore, by implementing more programs, the community center will attract more newcomers to get involved and take advantage of free services that are being offered. The vision statement of this organization is to strengthen the capacity of the settlement sector and see them as a strong community in future. In order to reach their objective, they plan to partner with other service providers and organizations to mutually support each other. They also want to work together with other community actors to develop the newcomer’s existing skills and talents and position them in Canadian workplaces. The way this organization operates is by dividing the programs and services offered into different categories (explained in organizational framework) most of them dedicated to newcomer community engagement and setting an overall policy which is being followed by the staff. In order for any organization to function effectively, the staff needs to consult and have open lines of communication with the board all the time.
Hence, this is what this organization is exactly doing. They work collaboratively with the board and host additional programs and events every week such as the YMCA Brampton newcomer program, free medical clinic for low income individuals and families, free tax clinics, tours and multicultural events on top of all the regular programs and services they offer. By engaging newcomers actively in these events and getting support from the regional government (Region of Peel) and the federal government (Citizenship and Immigration Canada), the organization is well set towards achieving their mission statement.
Organizational framework and funding
Neeru Singal said that the organizational structure of Brampton Multicultural Community Centre is very similar to most of the non-profit organizations. There are currently ten programs that are being offered to clients. Immigrant Settlement and Adaptation (ISAP), the Multicultural, Settlement and Education Partnership (MSEP), Job Search Workshop (JSW), Library Settlement Partnership (LSP), Newcomer Settlement Program (NSP), Social Service Program (SSP), Volunteer Management Program, Senior Connection Program, HOST, Cancer Screening Program. Of course, all these programs are grouped into several sub categories and administrated by few departments. At the highest level of the hierarchy, there is the board and under that there is the management who overlook at the operations of all departments. The smallest department is the events department because it is not something that is necessary to work on every day.
The biggest department overlooks at five to six programs – Social services program, HOST, job workshop, newcomer/immigration/settlement programs. These programs are active everyday because a lot of newcomers visit the agency frequently for consultation and help. They also provide common services such as — Skills Training & Assessment, Computer Training, Resume Preparation and Interview Skills. There is another department that administrates two to three programs such as the Cancer screening program and the senior connection program. Neeru Singal had mentioned their Cancer screening program is prominent because they do everything from holding the information sessions about breast and cervical cancer screening, booking the appointments for screening, arranging transportation to follow-ups after screening. The last department overlooks at HR, Volunteers, Funding, legal and development. As mentioned above, the management is committed with the board (executive directors) which keeps the organizational structure of non-profitable organization strong since 1987.
When it comes to funding, all the services offered in the agency are absolutely free. Therefore there is no income generated through the agency. Neeru Singal said that most of the funding is obtained from different levels of government and charitable organizations. I believe fundraising is the most common tool to get financial support; therefore the management should get involved in fund raising activities frequently. However, if management spends a lot of time on fundraising then the services will be affected. Political Climate is something that will make a huge impact on funding. Currently, Brampton Multicultural Community Center obtains most of its funding from the regional government (region of peel) and grants from the federal government. Neeru Singal mentioned that the government’s support has been going down since few years and the agency is not having enough funds to provide special services to their newcomer settlement program.
Method of service delivery
There is no direct or indirect delivery methods associated with the services provided by Brampton multicultural community centre. Existing clients and newcomers will have to visit the agency in order to get started with the programs. I have looked at several flyers and brochures that have information about the current programs. It is also a really good tool for promoting those programs to new clients. There is a particular order to get involved in every program. For instance, consider the Social Service Program (SSP). The clients have to attend an information sessions first and register for the programs. Then they go through several sessions such as skills Training & assessment, Computer Training, Resume preparations, Interview Skills, Workshops & information Sessions and Job Search Support Activities. By using this approach and providing these types of quality services, it will surely develop the clients’ skills and abilities and help them settle commendably.
Pertinent legislation that affects the agency
There are a lot of legislations that affect Brampton multicultural community centre. I expanded on three acts briefly to give an idea of how it affects this non-profit organization. Firstly, this agency is well-known for their settlement programs for new immigrants. Therefore, the Immigration Act, created in 1976 affects the most. This act gave provinces to set their own immigration laws which makes more people immigrate or not immigrate, subsequently increasing or decreasing the number of newcomers looking for settlement assistance. Secondly, the Income Tax Act lets the charitable corporations to register themselves as charities with the Canada Revenue Agency. This will allow the corporation to issue “official tax-deductible receipts” to the ones who contribute to their cause. If more people contribute to these charitable corporations (non-profit organization), there is more revenue being generated, thus helping the NPO’s to offer more quality programs. Thirdly, Canada Not-for-Profit Corporations Act gives the non-profit organization s more legal responsibility by the modern corporate governance framework. This act will also make the government sector more independent and help making it a government partner.
Effectiveness and efficiency review
I have looked at some of the feedbacks from clients regarding the settlement programs. All the reviews had positive responses which answers why this organization has been successful since 1987. Neeru Singal has repeatedly mentioned a lot of clients are loyal to their agency and they are very satisfied with the services offered. She also pointed out that clients often donate to this agency after getting a good job. As for my opinion, I would give this agency a perfect score, firstly, because she let me interview her for 30 minutes and secondly, because of the services offered and a high satisfaction rate.
Your thinking about the future needs and direction of the agency
I asked Neeru Singal if they are going to add more programs and she replied “we are currently doing okay, but we are considering adding 2 more programs by 2013” In my opinion, I think this agency is doing what they have to do in order to achieve their mission statement. They should add programs such as debt counselling (consider something other than the newcomer concentration) in order to increase the number of services offered. They should also enhance the quality of services offered now which will result in more clients dropping in but they should also try to increase their budget cap because she mentioned there has been a decrease lately. Therefore, if the agency can achieve their mission statement by adding unique programs (something not just for the newcomers) and getting more financial support, they will definitely make their vision statement come true.