Tag: Stefan

Working Together to Improve Client Services

first_imgNova Scotia’s two-year old Employment Support and IncomeAssistance Act has improved services for people in need, saidCommunity Services Minister David Morse in response to aCommunity Advocates Network report on the act released today,Dec. 16. “We are always interested in receiving feedback on our programs,”said Mr. Morse. “We meet regularly with advocacy groups andorganizations to discuss ways to strengthen programs and improveservices to Nova Scotians. We are also conducting our own reviewof the Employment Support and Income Assistance program to ensurethat it best reflects the needs of our clients.” Introduced in August 2001, the Employment Support and IncomeAssistance Act was the first change to social assistancelegislation in 30 years. One of the distinctions of the new act was an emphasis onemployability. A critical component of the program, employmentsupports move people toward employment and ultimately break thecycle of poverty. “We are investing more in people,” said Mr. Morse. “In additionto providing support for those in need, we are focused on helpingpeople become self-sufficient through the longer term goal ofemployment and an enhanced quality of life.” Following an initial review of the report, Mr. Morse said he waspleased to see that there were some positive comments about thework of the department and recognition of some of the challenges. The report makes recommendations in four key areas: incomeassistance, employment supports, client service and inclusion.Mr. Morse said the Department of Community Services has alreadytaken a number of actions in these areas based on ongoingconsultation with clients, staff and advocates. Those initiatives include: Client Service A comprehensive client handbook on the Employment Support and Income Assistance program is being developed in consultation with clients, staff and community agencies like Community Advocates Network. This plain-language handbook is designed to provide clients with a clear understanding of all supports available. Other initiatives include provincewide training for staff and a review of policies and procedures to ensure that they are being applied consistently. At the same time the new act was introduced, the province alsoended the clawback of the National Child Benefit. This benefitrepresents up to $256 per month — or more than $3,000 per year — for each child and is available to low-income families whetheror not they are receiving income assistance. Inclusion The Department of Community Services is sensitive to issues related to exclusion and provides mandatory diversity training and optional anti-oppressive training to all staff. The department has also embarked on an inclusion initiative in consultation with more than 100 community agencies to develop policies that recognize the range of social and economic barriers faced by our clients. “These are just some of the actions we’re already taking toaddress the issues raised in this report,” said Mr. Morse. “Welook forward to meeting with the members of Community AdvocatesNetwork in the new year to discuss the recommendations in moredetail.” Employment Supports A major goal of the Employment Support and Income Assistance program is to support people in their efforts to become self- sufficient. Staff work one-on-one with clients to develop individualized plans to help them become employed or acquire the skills and training they need to become employable. For example, support is available for up to two years at a community college or other recognized program. Once a person is able to work, they become eligible for assistance with travel expenses, child-care expenses (up to $400 per month) and extended Pharmacare coverage, and they are able to keep a portion of their earnings. These types of supports make it feasible for single parents to participate in employment. Income Assistance Rates became standardized across the province in 2001. The new basic rates provide for shelter and a personal allowance. Special needs funding is also available for prescription medication, transportation and other required items. As a result of the new act, Nova Scotia’s basic rates for income assistance compare favourably with those of other Atlantic Provinces. last_img read more