Fonds 316 - Northwest Territories. Department of Social Services fonds

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Northwest Territories. Department of Social Services fonds

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  • Textual record

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  • 1969-1994 (Creation)
    Northwest Territories. Department of Social Services (1978-1995)

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Physical description

ca. 4.4 meters of textual material

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Administrative history

The Department of Social Services was established in 1978 when the Department of Health and Social Services was split to form two distinct departments.

The Department of Social Services was responsible for promoting, improving and preserving the social well being of the residents of the Northwest Territories. The department provided services directly to individuals and families and supported the delivery of services through community-based organizations and agencies. Community Social Services Workers were placed in most communities and provided financial assistance assessments, investigated complaints of child neglect and abuse, supervised probationers and parolees and provided counseling to children and adults. The department assisted groups in organizing and providing services to the aged and handicapped, operated child care facilities, adult and youth correctional centres and homes for handicapped and elderly persons requiring assistance. In addition, funding was provided for foster homes and home support services to enable residents to remain in their homes as long as possible. Awareness programs and training were offered in the prevention of drug and alcohol abuse, domestic abuse and child abuse.

The Administration Activity was responsible for developing, coordinating and managing the delivery of services related to child welfare, special services, financial assistance services, alcohol and drug programs, institutional and community corrections services and programs for the elderly and disabled in Yellowknife and within the communities. This Activity provided the funds for all staff within these programs, except those working in institutional settings. As the Department of Social Services evolved, this activity became responsible for development of policies and management of the department to ensure consistent application of policy, programs, standards and procedures throughout the Northwest Territories. In 1988, this activity was renamed the Directorate; it consisted of the Deputy Minister's Office, the Policy and Planning and Finance and Administration Support Divisions, the Regional Superintendents and their support staff, and Community Social Service Workers located in the communities throughout the Northwest Territories. The Directorate was also responsible for the delivery of the Youth Initiatives Program that assisted community groups that were interested in developing youth leadership programs, drug and alcohol prevention programs and educational and counseling programs.

The Corrections Activity was comprised of institutional corrections programs and community-based corrections programs. The institutional corrections programs provided custody, supervision and rehabilitative treatment to persons sentenced to jail terms in the Northwest Territories. Wilderness programs, education and life skills training were offered within the correctional facility that provided inmates with skills appropriate to the north that would encourage self-reliance and responsibility. The institutional corrections programs also provided probation, parole services and offered programs to help offenders adjust to community life after their release. The community-based corrections programs provided an alternative to incarceration for the offender and offered greater public protection through crime deterrence and offender rehabilitation. The Fine Options program for example, enabled persons who could not pay fines to do community service as a substitute. The Victim/Offender conciliation program was another program administered by community agencies through service contracts. Staff training and a Correctional Officer training program, geared towards aboriginal northerners, was also offered through this activity. Community service, restitution and work programs were other major programs delivered by this division. The Corrections Division was involved with the upgrading of correctional facilities, as well as the construction and opening of facilities within the communities, such as the South Mackenzie Correctional Centre and Baffin Correctional Centre. Corrections Services were also responsible for developing crime prevention programs in the communities of the Northwest Territories. In 1988-89, the Correction Services Activity expanded to include a Custody and Community Corrections program for Young Offenders. Emphasis was placed on improving educational and life skills programming within the already established young offender facilities, as well as constructing two permanent facilities in Iqaluit and Yellowknife. The division continued to emphasize alternatives to institutional care for young offenders through measures administered by Youth Justice Committees that utilized community resources such as probation services and community service orders. In 1993-94, the Department of Justice assumed the responsibility for Corrections Services.

The Family and Children's Services Activity was responsible for providing services relating to Child Welfare, Child Day Care, Child Sexual Abuse and Family Violence Prevention. The activity provided substitute care for children in the custody of Child Welfare, under the Child Welfare Ordinance or Juvenile Delinquent Act. Substitute care resources included adoptive homes, foster homes and group homes. Receiving home facilities such as Trailcross and River Ridge (Fort Smith) provided assessment and treatment services for adolescents; Northern Lights (Inuvik) and the Yellowknife Receiving Home provided group home treatment and family crisis services. The Family and Children's Services Activity emphasized community involvement in responding to child welfare needs and workshops and programs were offered in order facilitate that involvement. In 1981, the Hay River and Fort Providence Dene bands, with assistance from the Department of Social Services, successfully organized and operated three summer camps for young people in order to prevent young people to from coming into conflict with the law. The camps were then used as bases for fall and winter trapping activities in which juvenile offenders would be under the supervision of experienced trappers and hunters. The activity evaluated programs and facilities and offered training programs to staff in dealing with behavioral and emotional problems of children and families. This activity developed a childcare diploma program that was delivered by Arctic College in 1987. Family and Children Services also became involved with custom, private, departmental and international adoptions in the late 1980's. When the Child Day Care Facilities Act and Regulations came into effect in 1988, this activity assisted child day care facilities in becoming licensed and then was responsible for inspecting and monitoring day care centres throughout the Northwest Territories. The day care program also administered grants and contributions to licensed day care operators and offered training assistance to day care staff. In 1986-87, a Spousal Assault Service was introduced to the Department of Social Services and joined the Family and Children's Services Activity in 1988. The primary function of this activity was to develop family violence programs that would encourage and enable families and communities to help themselves and to provide safety and assistance for those living with violence. Community crisis centres were developed, as well as, shelter programs and counseling services for assault victims and for the batterers.

In 1980, the Services to the Aged and Handicapped Activity was added to the Department of Social Services. This activity provided funds and guidance to purchase and provide services to assist the elderly and disabled people to maintain themselves in their own home or community. Coordinated home care programs such as protective visiting, the delivery of meals and home nursing services were delivered through cooperation from hospitals. Studies and need assessments were conducted to determine the needs of handicapped people and elderly people in the north. This activity was responsible for a wide range of personal, community and residential services for the aged and handicapped. This involved the development of appropriate standards and policies, as well as planning services and constructing facilities.

Financial Assistance Services, formerly known as Income Maintenance (1978-79), provided social assistance, supplementary benefits to recipients of Old Age Security plus the Guaranteed Income Supplement and provided financial assistance for payment of non-insured health services for persons who were unable to pay the cost. This activity also identified the various types of interventions and counseling that were offered by the department in order to develop self-support and problem solving to those in need. Community Social Service workers provided counseling in order to teach life skills and promote self-support. In 1988-89, this activity joined with the Aged and Handicapped Services to form Community and Family Support Services.

The Community and Family Support Services Division provided services and financial assistance to the aged and handicapped persons and to individuals and families in financial need. This division also facilitated and monitored the transfer of social services programs and services to local governments under the Government of the Northwest Territories Transfer Policy. The Financial Assistance service within this division provided financial support to persons requiring assistance in meeting their basic needs, day care subsidies to parents and supplementary benefits to qualified northern recipients of Old Age Security and the Guaranteed Income Supplement and the Senior Citizen Supplementary Benefit Act. The division also provided information and assisted community and band councils interested in assuming increased responsibility for program delivery. The division processed and approved applications for rehabilitation programs and provided for an appeal process. Through an employment enhancement program that was cost shared with the federal government, recipients of social assistance were placed in job training programs for guiding, outfitting, tool making, carving, skin preparation, sewing and academic upgrading.

In 1981-82, the Alcohol and Drug Service was added to the Department of Social Services. This activity provided contribution funding to support community-based alcohol and drug projects in order to combat alcohol and drug abuse in the Northwest Territories. The division assisted in the development and delivery of staff training programs for local people that would enable them to work in projects within their home communities. The Alcohol and Drug Service provided administrative services to the Alcohol and Drug Coordinating Council, which included assessment of funding applications and project evaluations. The Alcohol and Drug Coordinating Council employed staff who offered education, counseling and rehabilitation services to community residents. The Alcohol and Drug Coordinating Council also acted as the Regional Advisory Board for the federal National Native Alcohol and Drug Abuse Program. Other major program areas included community education and in-school programs that were designed to increase public awareness of impaired driving and fetal alcohol syndrome. Alcohol Awareness Week was coordinated in conjunction with the Departments of Education and Health and a youth alcohol and drug prevention program was delivered by this activity. Consultative and counseling services were also provided to governmental employees through liaison with the Department of Personnel.

In 1988-89, the activity was renamed the Alcohol, Drug and Community Mental Health Activity. The activity was responsible for facilitating the transfer of community based mental health services and the National Native Alcohol and Drug Abuse Program from the federal government. Emphasis continued to be the development of programs that prevented alcohol, drug and mental health programs at the community level. The Community Mental Health Programs consisted of regional specialists who provided advice, guidance and support to community groups who wished to take an active role in the prevention and treatment of mental health programs. These specialists also provided counseling and crisis intervention services. The Clinical Assessment and Treatment Services provided a team of children's mental health specialists who were available to travel to communities upon request of regional centres. The specialist provided assessments, diagnosis, consultation and treatment for children and adolescents with emotional, behavioural and psychological problems. Between 1990-1991, a Suicide Prevention Program was added to this activity. Work on developing a northern suicide prevention-training curriculum began in Baker Lake, Coppermine, Iqaluit, Fort Smith, Inuvik, Fort Simpson and Yellowknife, which assisted community groups in educating the public about suicide prevention. This activity also provided psychological services to correctional centres.

In 1995, the Department of Social Services and the Department of Health were consolidated to form a single department called the Department of Health and Social Services.

Custodial history

Scope and content

This fonds consists of approximately 4.4 meters of textual records from the Department of Social Services. The records include materials from the Management Services Division, Community and Family Support Division, Correction Services, Mental Health Service, Young Offender and Child Welfare. Records include files related to transfer of responsibilities from the federal government; block funding arrangement; summer camp programs; group homes; outpost camps; policy and program development; regional delivery of programming; Senior Management Committee meetings; mental health programming; seniors and hadicapped programming; corrections; daycare services; drug and alcohol programs and family violence programming .

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      Access restricted under the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

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      Copyright held by the GNWT.

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