Family support practitioners and partners from across Ontario gathered on Thursday, November 30 to learn, celebrate, and advocate.
The afternoon began with a chance to mingle with colleagues from across Ontario, including Windsor, Durham, Toronto, and Ottawa.
FSIO Board Members Chanel Tsang and Priscilla Dutt then facilitated a group learning experience, “Fostering Enduring Connections with Diverse Families”. This hour-long workshop was an introduction to The Seven Essentials of Family Support, a new professional learning workshop series designed by FSIO. In the “Three Shining Moments” icebreaker, we recognized events, activities, accomplishments, collaborations, and moments of practice that have been important to us. Feeling proud of our work and its meaning, we then examined the four foundations of How Does Learning Happen? in relation to the adult caregiver:
why is each foundation important?
what does each look like in program?
what are some challenges in upholding each foundation, specifically related to the twelve areas of diversity?
how do we know that we have been successful in fostering the foundations?
We arrived at practical ideas through group discussions in which we exchanged what has been working in our various programs.
Later in the evening, FSIO presented a new platform for exchanging ideas and celebrating shining moments in between gatherings. The Member Forum is an online discussion platform that connects us across distance and program schedules. FSIO board members will regularly post questions based on what we hear is on practitioners’ minds and to hear your perspectives on policy directions and FSIO activities. We encourage you to engage in the discussion and to pose your own questions so that we can collaboratively enhance and promote our practice, our professional recognition and capacity, and family-friendly policies and programs. (To join the forum, become a member or renew your membership. If you are a member having difficulty accessing the Forum, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.)
In between the “Fostering Enduring Connections with Diverse Families” workshop and the presentation of FSIO’s Member Forum, FSIO hosted its 2017 Annual General Meeting. Cindy Smith spoke as Chair on behalf of the 2016-2017 board and described FSIO’s process of renewing its strategic plan in order to support practitioners and bring the field together in this time of transition to EarlyON Centres. Catherine Moher delivered the Auditor’s Report, and Kathy Spinks presented the Election Slate. We bid a fond farewell to Valerie Kenny and thanked Elizabeth Moffat for her contributions to FSIO’s strategic planning. In turn, we welcomed Toni Travo (Connections Early Years Family Centre in Windsor), Margaret Megitt (TDSB Family Literacy Program), and Cecilia Nisell (Heart Beatz Family Resource Centre, Scarborough) to FSIO’s 2017-2018 Board of Directors!
Nourished from homemade lasagna, bread, salad, and sweet treats, we ended the night advocating for the family support workforce. Shannon Fuller, Assistant Deputy Minister of the Early Years and Child Care Division, Ministry of Education joined us to provide an update from the Ministry. Members of her team then listened and took notes during small group discussions of the Ontario Early Years and Child Care Workforce Strategy. Many practitioners voiced the importance of valuing the uniqueness of family support work and equalizing pay across programs, and the need for respite care and resources for children with disabilities were among the other priorities highlighted by FSIO members.
An invigorating buzz was felt throughout the day’s events. We were happy to see long-time colleagues, to make new connections, to celebrate our shining moments, and to talk about supporting the family support workforce.
FSIO was thrilled to see so many members and to share its new tools for supporting and collaborating with practitioners. We missed those of you who couldn’t be there and look forward to talking with you in the Member Forum and providing webinars in the future!