Family Service Ontario represents 48 not-for-profit member agencies from across the province, serving more than 250,000 individuals, couples and families in communities and workplaces every year. Our agencies provide a wide range of mental health, trauma and wellness services throughout Ontario. Together, we are here for families to get help, be well and live better today.

Our Mission

All relevant policy makers, stakeholders and funders value and count on Family Service Ontario for advice, direction and responsive leadership to changing community needs.

Our Vision

Family Service Agencies are well supported and resourced so that Ontarians have responsive community-based services that support healthy relationships and resilient individuals and families.

Our Objectives

Family Services Ontario strives to:

  • Strengthen and support member agencies through meaningful connections to each other
  • Ensure timely access to relevant information and opportunities for knowledge exchange
  • Increase value to member agencies through support and education activities
  • Develop and support new entrepreneurial initiatives for members
  • Act as a voice for Family Service agencies with policy makers, funders and other stakeholders
  • Advocate with funders for resources
  • Broaden the membership base and expand relationships to strengthen our voice
  • Foster growth of new initiatives

Who are we?

Family Service Ontario is governed by a Board of Directors consisting of a minimum of six (6) and not more than ten (10) Directors.  Directors  must be over the age of eighteen (18), and be an active Executive Director of a member agency or an active or past Board member of a member agency.  Directors are elected by the voting membership at the Annual General Meeting for term of three (3) years.  Directors are eligible to serve two (2) consecutive terms.

What do we do?

The Board of Directors is responsible for transacting the business on behalf of the Corporation.  It operates under a modified Carver Model of Governance.  Our mission is to provide a voice, to build capacity and to add value to member agencies.

How do we operate?

The Board provides direction and strategic planning to the Executive Director through the development of ends statements.  The Board operates with a selection of governance committees including: Management/Financial, By-Law review, Board Recruitment, Communication, Government Relations and Retreat Planning.

The Board meets a minimum of four (4) times per year, apart from the Annual General Meeting which is held in May of each year.  Meetings may be face to face or by teleconference.

How can you become involved?

The Board welcomes new members and makes every effort to fill vacancies on an annual basis.  If you know of anyone who meets the criteria for membership or are interesting in becoming a Director yourself, simply contact the Family Service Office and request an application form.  This is a great opportunity for individuals to provide leadership in the development, enhancement, growth and support of Family Service Ontario member agencies.

Family Service Ontario provides value to its members through:

Government Relations:

Family Service Ontario believes that a key role of a provincial organization is to lobby government for increased funding and improved policy and legislation. Relationship building with key government staff and elected officials is at the heart of a comprehensive program to influence government decision makers. Support to member agencies and building relationships with decision makers are essential to our success.

Government Relations activities include:

  • writing briefs
  • participating in pre-budget consultations
  • meetings with senior elected officials and bureaucrats and inviting them to attend our events
  • political analysis
  • election strategy and information packages for members to use in local campaigns
  • participating in coalitions and partnerships
  • developing news releases and holding press conferences
  • advising and supporting member agencies on local political action

Communication:

We keep in constant contact with our members through email, individual phone calls and site visits including:

  • a weekly email update (Family Service Ontario This Week)
  • bi-monthly email Member Update
  • Queen’s Park Analysis
  • knowledge sharing initiated by Family Service Ontario or by members through conference calls and emails for example, the Partner Assault Response Program, Canada Pension Plan enhancement, Ten-Year Mental Health and Addictions Strategy
  • social media support using sample tweets to bring attention to key issues
  • keep members in contact with each other, sharing information and getting advise from each other

Engagement:

We strive to have our member agencies informed and engaged by:

  • coordinating other special interest round tables on key topics such as the ORPP, Ten-Year Mental health and Addictions Strategy, Partner Assault Response Program/Men’s Services strategy
  • supporting and participating in Regional Directors Meetings
  • coordinating an ongoing Best Practice Committee
  • engaging members in planning the Annual Conference
  • assisting members to identify and apply for grants
  • providing information and support to members who are developing new services
  • conducting regular member surveys on important topics and generating summary reports for the members e.g.: the bi-annual compensation survey, survey on violence against women services
  • offering consultation and information to agencies developing new services
  • assistance with creating collaborations
  • writing support letters for members

Family Service Ontario relies on an incredible team of dedicated leaders in their professions to help strengthen families each and every day across Ontario. They dedicate their time to help govern Family Service Ontario with insight, vision and passion.

Board of Directors 2017-2018:

Alan McQuarrie (North Bay) – Chair 

Alan was Executive Director of the Family Life Centre (now the Counselling Centre of East Algoma) in Elliot Lake for 4 years and is presently the Executive Director of the Community Counselling Centre of Nipissing.  He brings expertise in the areas of Social Service Delivery, Governance, and Clinical Social Work. His belief in the potential of Family Service agencies to improve the well-being of vulnerable populations and to reduce the long term costs of health care can be enhanced through the provincial association.

Sharon Mayne Devine (Brampton) – Vice Chair

Sharon is the Executive Director of Catholic Family Services Peel-Dufferin. 

She is a registered social worker and a member of the Ontario Association for Marriage and Family Therapy. Sharon holds a BSW degree and a Masters degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from the University of Western Ontario and the University of Guelph respectively.

In addition to her private practice in social work, Sharon has been a member of the Graduate Faculty of Marriage and Family Therapy at the University of Guelph for the past 15 years.

Shelley McCarthy (Brantford) – Secretary

Shelley has worked with two family service agencies over the past twenty-nine years as Manager of Community Support Services, Acting Executive Director and presently Executive Director of the Family Counselling Centre of Brant Inc. She brings leadership skills in successful change management, sound knowledge of government’s expectations and operations, and a collaborative style to her work. She is interested in contributing to the continued growth in the Board’s strategic priorities and in helping to build a strong association that is responsive to its needs.

Connie McLeod (Thunder Bay) – Past Chair

Connie is a retired school principal from Thunder Bay who has also worked as a program manager in the children’s mental health field. She has also served as president of the Board of Directors of the Thunder Bay Counselling Centre. Connie has been in leadership positions in both her professional and volunteer life, which includes Artisans Northwest, the Children’s Centre of Thunder Bay and Caring Hearts Thunder Bay

Brad Davis (Kent)

Brad Davis worked as a counsellor at Family Service Kent from 2003-2009, and as Executive Director from 2009 to the present. Brad’s volunteer experience includes the Canadian Mental Health Association and he currently sits of the Board of Directors of Restorative Justice Chatham-Kent. Brad is now ready to make a contribution to some of the larger issues that affect family service agencies from a provincial perspective.

Mark Zarecki (Ottawa)

Mark is the Executive Director of Jewish Family Services in Ottawa since 1996. Under Mark’s leadership, the agency has grown from a budget of $700k to over five million dollars, and from a staff of 11 to over 65. He is the recipient of the Queen Jubilee Medal for contribution to social services, and the 150 Anniversary of the Confederation of Canada medal for contribution to social services. Mark is passionate about social justice and believes that Family Services should be in the lead for social justice issues.

Michelle Bergin (Simcoe County)

Michelle Bergin is the Executive Director of Catholic Family Services of Simcoe County.  Michelle has been working in the social service sector for over 25 years. She began her career in Social Work at Waypoint Centre for Mental Health Care in Penetanguishene and moving on to Hamilton for a few years providing counselling and group programs at a francophone community health centre.  In 1995, she returned to Simcoe County and worked as a Family Counsellor and Family Life Education Coordinator for 9 years at the former North Simcoe Catholic Family Life Centre in Midland. She has been with Catholic Family Services of Simcoe County (CFSSC) since 2008, beginning as the Intake Coordinator and becoming Manager of Client Services in 2011.  In May 2015 Michelle was appointed Executive Director.

Michelle is a passionate supporter of Family Service Ontario and has experienced first-hand the benefits of membership while at CFSSC. She is energized by the opportunities being presented currently for Family Service Ontario and would like to be part of the “next wave” of the association. As a board member Michelle brings substantial experience in all levels of the social service and an expertise in managing the rural and urban challenges of service delivery and organizational management.