In 1970 a group of citizens approached Peel Community Services to express concern that there weren’t adequate resources available for people experiencing individual, marital or family problems. Peel Community Services, formerly a combination of the United Way and the Social Planning Council, agreed with this assessment and advised the group to incorporate an organization for that purpose.
On March 22, 1971, Peel Family Services (later changed to Family Services of Peel) was incorporated to assist individuals, couples and families experiencing stressful life adjustment problems that they were unable to resolve alone. The first directors of the corporation were: Thomas Adams, John Bennett, Phyliss Burgess, Robert Clark, William Cline, John Greenwood, Alvin Joslin, Thomas MacDonald, Ralph MacMillan, Hazel McCallion, Terrance Miller, Lionel Mohr, Thomas Morgan, Thomas O’Dwyer, and Louis Parsons.
The original letters patent included the following objectives:
- To provide individual and group counselling as basic services through case work and other relevant methods,
- To provide other relevant services which enrich individual, family, and community life,
- To provide directly, or in collaboration with other community groups, services or programmes of an educational nature aimed at the prevention of family distress,
- To participate in or undertake studies, surveys, and research projects relevant to the purpose of improving agency and community services,
- To share community responsibility for the training and education of social service students, and
- To initiate and/or participate in social action concerning family life.
These objectives guided the activities of the Agency. In 1973, the letters patent were amended to include credit counselling services, which focused on the provision of remedial and preventative assistance for individuals and families with financial problems.
During the ‘70’s, ‘80’s and early ‘90’s, the core programs of individual, couple and family counselling, credit counselling, community support services, and family life education provided assistance to many in the County of Peel, later to become the Region of Peel. Additional programs were added to meet the needs of the community as financial resources were sought and received. The Ministry of Community and Social Services (MCSS) provided the financial impetus to focus Agency attention and resources toward ending domestic violence. These programs included immediate intervention services, groups for abused women, groups for abusive men, and groups for children who had witnessed violence. Agency involvement in broad initiatives included developing a community protocol for dealing with partner assault, establishing standards for training staff to deal with domestic assault, and engaging in education and workshops on domestic violence.
The Agency also sought to strengthen its own capacity to provide financial stability by developing an Employee Assistance Program. Employers saw the financial benefits of supporting employees in their work and personal lives through counselling and education.
Through the ‘90’s, the Agency continued to look for ways to build a sense of community in Peel while strengthening the relationships between parents, children and other families. Funding was secured to implement Families and Schools Together (F&ST), an innovative family and community strengthening prevention program. The partnerships developed through this program opened the door to new relationships and opportunities in other service areas.
Family Services of Peel’s interest in neighbourhoods and community capacity-building led to its involvement with a local, high-density, at-risk community called Acorn place. The Agency was instrumental in forming the Acorn Community Out-Reach Network (ACORN), a roundtable of community services, funders, and residents to identify community assets, and work towards creating a healthy, vibrant community.
Funding crises in the late ‘90’s precipitated the search for new funding sources and innovative ways of meeting specialized client needs. The Agency’s strategic priorities included diversifying its funding base and increasing service affordability and accessibility for Peel’s more vulnerable, low-income families and individuals. The Working To Your Full Potential program brought a new funding source (the former HRSDC – now Service Canada) to the Agency and a client group that would benefit from case management and group work approaches to overcoming personal barriers to employment.
Program additions to Family Services of Peel included the Supported Independent Living (SIL) program, which grew out of a need to meet the growing and changing, complex needs of long-term clients of the Agency’s Independent Community Living program. The Ministry of Community and Social Services Developmental Services branch responded through their SIL funding stream with financial support to provide an enhanced service with more intense support.
In June 2003, Family Services of Peel (FSP) staff became certified with the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW). The Agency entered into a bargaining process that included conciliation and a five-week strike, culminating in FSP’s first collective agreement, signed on April 8, 2004.
Over the course of 2008/09, organizational efforts were focused on access to services. With respect to accessibility, the Agency considered the large geographic area of Peel and ways in which it could more effectively reach residents who were currently not accessing programs. The outcome of this process resulted in the establishment of four new partnerships whereby Family Services of Peel provided services onsite at its partners’ locations.
As part of its strategic directions to increase responsiveness to the community, the Agency made a concerted effort to develop services for populations that were either underserved or for whom there existed a significant gap in service. During the 2009/10 fiscal year, the Agency engaged in a partnership with Peel Senior Link that resulted in funding from the Mississauga Halton Local Health Integration Network to establish a prevention program that supports South Asian seniors who are experiencing elder abuse. FSP also launched the Men’s Link Peel Program in January. Funded by the Ontario Trillium Foundation, Men’s Link Peel was the only service of its kind in Peel Region that supported men who were abused in childhood.
In 2010, Family Services of Peel was selected by the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities to become one of the Employment Ontario service providers in the transformed system. The new model of service provides the full spectrum of employment support including client service planning and coordination, resource and information, job search, job matching and placement, and job retention.
A new and innovative program was launched in 2011, Support Services for Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse. The Ministry of the Attorney General established a comprehensive network of 45 agencies from across the province of Ontario to deliver services to male survivors of sexual abuse. Family Services of Peel was selected as the lead agency in the Central Ontario Region, with partnering agencies across the region. The critical support services to survivors include individual counselling, group counselling, peer support, residential services, e-counselling and telephone counselling.
In 2011/12, Family Services of Peel was successful in securing funding for a new initiative. Funded by the Government of Canada through Citizenship and Immigration Canada, the Labour Market Access Program for Newcomers with Disabilities provided opportunities for newcomers living with a disability to increase their knowledge of Canadian labour laws, the Canadian Labour Market and the job market process in Canada and the Region of Peel. Participants received job coaching, job development and support to improve their readiness and employability skills while enhancing their social network and access to various resources.
In 2013, the Agency secured funding from The Ontario Trillium Foundation. The Institute for Excellence on Violence is a three-year collaborative program which serves as a centralized place of databases and evidence-based research for agencies working with victims of violence. The institute will allow agencies to work in a coordinated manner around the needs of survivors of violence in Peel Region.