AFS Program Celebrates 25 Years of Service

0
Ali Juma, AFS CEO; Christopher FitzGerald, Lawyer, Chair of the Community Partners Advisory Committee; Dave Paquin, Supervised Access Program Coordinator; Ross Romano, MPP

Algoma Family Services Supervised Access Program Celebrates 25 Years of Service
On October 27th at Holy Angels School, AFS Supervised Access Program (SAP) celebrated 25 years of service with an Open House.

In attendance were members of the legal community, community partners and AFS staff. This celebration came on the heels of a positive program review done every three years – to promote accountability and service quality by assuring that all Ontario Supervised Access Centres funded by the Ministry of the Attorney General (MAG) meet the minimum standards of the MAG SAP Program Best Practices. As one of MAG’s original 14 pilot programs in Ontario, the AFS -SAP Program has provided service to approximately 700 families since 1992.

To ensure the SAP goals and priorities remain reflective of the changing needs of the community, AFS has greatly benefited from peer reviews, as well as feedback and input of an Advisory Committee. This committee consists of a group of community professionals who provide recommendations, information, and expert opinion on the program. Chris Fitzgerald, Algoma District Law Association representative, was recognized at the Open House for 25 years of outstanding commitment to the Advisory Committee. Our SAP program, specifically the Advisory Committee is a great example of how AFS is delivering on its new Mission Statement, “Together we will improve access to our extraordinary services”, said AFS Board Chair Sherrill Dewar.

The SAP program goal is to facilitate a positive visit that is safe for all family members and to observe and record what takes place during the visit or exchange. “Anyone who has been through family breakdown knows that it can be incredibly hard on everyone involved. It’s an emotional time, a confusing time, a time of upheaval – a time when an individual’s life – a child’s life – can change forever,” said Dave Paquin, SAP Coordinator. “When parents can’t see eye-to-eye on the custody and access of their children, and there is a risk to either the parent or the child, Algoma families can turn to the SAP program”.

Ross Romano, Sault Ste. Marie, MPP was in attendance at the open house, and stated in his address, “I’d like to offer my congratulations to Algoma Family Services on the 25th anniversary of the Supervised Access program. The services this program provides to families at such an emotionally-heightened time in their lives are vital to our community. Thank you to the staff who are often called upon to work in a difficult atmosphere. The work you do for children and parents in need is greatly appreciated.”

According to Ali Juma, AFS CEO the consistent exemplary peer reviews over the last 25 years reinforces to our clients, community partners and funder our commitment to the delivery of high quality services and continuous quality improvement. “I am incredibly proud of the SAP team for their extraordinary commitment to the children and families that use our service, thankful to the members of our advisory committee for their support and guidance, and to the Ministry of the Attorney General for continuing to fund this program”, said Juma. “Twenty five years is a long time, and as a leader in the delivery of this service we have some exciting innovations to share with you in the coming month to make our service even more accessible”.

The SAP Program offers separated families a safe, neutral and child-focused setting to facilitate exchanges and visits in order to deal with difficulties that may arise as a result of the complex circumstances that these families are facing. For more information about SAP, visit the AFS website: www.algomafamilyservices.org or contact the SAP Coordinator at (705) 945-5050/1-800-461-2237 Ext. 2707.

Algoma Family Services is a multi-service agency specializing in the delivery of Child and Youth Mental Health Services, Tele-Mental Health, Youth Addictions, Youth Justice, Family Violence, Employee Assistance, and a number of community programs including Supervised Access, Student and Prenatal Nutrition, and Parenting (Triple P).