Headaches scrub meeting
Staff departures keep agency playing catch-up

by Richard Gleeson
Northern News Services

NNSL (NOV 06/96) - National Family Week has come and gone, but a recent staff exodus continues to hamper operations at NWT Family Services.

Executive director Paul Conway recently called a special meeting to get a three-month extension on the deadline for the annual general meeting.

Family Services is required to hold an annual general meeting once each year. The last one was held in October 1995.

A total of seven staff have left the non-profit family counselling agency since June. Four of the seven resigned earlier this month.

"With all the kerfuffles here this month there's just been no time to prepare for an annual general meeting," said Conway.

He said not all of the vacancies have been filled. One full-time therapist and one part-time therapist, on contract, have been hired.

Conway said he could not discuss reasons for the resignations.

"I don't want to go into a lot of detail. Obviously there are questions, involving staff members, that would be inappropriate for me to discuss."

The Department of Health and Social Services provided the agency with $90,000 in core funding for the 1996-97 fiscal year, plus an additional $118,000 for family violence counselling.

Family Services' children's healing centre is federally funded.

Additionally, Health and Social Services provides funding for referrals made through the Child Welfare Act. Family Services charges the department for each referral.

The GNWT is paying the agency $260,000 this year to provide counselling and therapy for government employees and their families under the government's Employee Assistance Program (EAP).

Conway confirmed family services has similar contracts with other organizations, but he would not name them.

Negotiations that would allow more flexible use of funding are currently under way. Core funding now can be used only for administrative and support, but not treatment.

"Basically what it boils down to is short-term (treatment) versus long-term," he explained.

Service provided for EAP clients is usually short-term, with long-term treatment generally referred to other agencies.

Family Services does offer long-term treatment for cases involving children's healing and family violence.

"The EAP is a general service model. One of the things we're doing in reorganizing the agency is trying to take some of the other funding and make that model more accessible generally."