Home | Post-Secondary Linkage

Post-Secondary Linkage

What are community social services?

Community social services refer to non-governmental organizations that provide support to individuals and groups in their communities. Services can include support, resources, information, and/or advocacy to people facing personal challenges or recreational opportunities at any point in their lives. Most people in BC have, at one time or another, engaged with community social services providers. Some examples of areas that fall within the social services sector include:

Early years services

These services can cater to infants and young children and can include daycare programs, early learning programs, and more

Youth services

These services typically focus on children over the age of 10 until 19 years and can include educational programs, crisis management, employment training, and more

Women's services

Women’s services often involve supporting women in crisis or dealing with trauma or violence

Indigenous services

Indigenous services pertain to programs and supports tailored to Indigenous, First Nations, Metis, and Inuit people and can include cultural education, mental health and peer support services, and more

Family services

Family services focus on parents and their children and can include education, peer-support and more

Therapeutic services

Therapeutic services can include mental health and addiction services and programming with an emphasis on counselling

Seniors' services

Seniors’ services can involve a wide variety of programming tailored to those 65 years and older

Newcomer services

Newcomer services include all services catering to new immigrants, refugees and those seeking culturally specific programming

Housing services

These services involve all forms of shelter and housing supports and can include youth in care and foster housing programs

Employment services

These services can include training, education and placement programs that support employability and employment

Community living services

These services include all those tailored to the needs of people with diverse mental and physical abilities in order to support increased independence and accessibility

Food security services

These services can involve various supports aimed at ensuring stable and equitable food systems, such as farm to table programs, school food programs, food banks, food rescue and recovery programs, coops and more

Note: This tabled description of community social services was derived from an analysis of n=113 organizations who are members of the Federation of Community Social Services of BC (FCSSBC).  The service areas listed may not be exhaustive or exactly as described in all instances, but provide a general overview of common areas of service provision.

From education to employment: Work-integrated learning

The community social services sector supports the social development of many residents in the community and collectively contribute to healthy and prosperous communities across British Columbia.

Despite providing such vital services to the province, the sector continues to face challenges with finding and keeping the skilled, compassionate professionals needed to thrive.1

Many social service organizations are publicly funded through contracts with provincial governments, and most rely on a steady stream of volunteers who comprise a significant portion of their workforce. While a recent study of adults in BC suggests that roughly two-thirds of British Columbians have volunteered in the past, some areas of the social services sector are more heavily supported (e.g., youth and senior services) than others (e.g., employment and housing services).2

In some areas volunteers may lack support, training, and steady volunteer opportunities needed to prevent burnout and sustain continued participation.

One strategy for the sector to address its staffing challenges and attract skilled workers into the field is to provide opportunities for students at post-secondary institutions. Work-integrated learning (WIL) opportunities create a pathway to bridge the gap between education (the coursework and skills fostered within post-secondary institutions) and employment (the skills and competencies needed to maintain a job). WIL programs include co-ops, internships, practica and other opportunities for students to formally integrate their academic studies within a workplace or practice setting.3

1 In 2020 The Federation of Community Social Services of BC (in partnership with SPARC BC and CSSEA) produced a report detailing the current state of employment and identified challenges to recruitment and retention within the social services labour market.
Details and the full report can be found here.

2 To learn more about volunteerism in BC, see SPARC BC’s full report here.

3 Learn more about work-integrated learning here

Post-Secondary Linkage Research Articles

Research Synthesis: Post-Secondary Linkage to BC’s Community Social Services Sector

Kitselas Five Tier Community-Built Job and Skills Training System

Kitselas Five Tier System LP (K5T) began a research project to better understand the experiences that Kitselas First Nation (KFN) Members have with higher education and the community social services sector….

Sustainability of the Community Social Services Sector Through Institutional Work-Integrated Learning (WIL) Partnerships

Through the literature review, the research team identified seven factors which formed the basis for good practices and quality WIL across social service organizations….