Moving Forward Family Services (MFFS) is an innovative non-profit agency that provides counselling to anyone who needs it in the Metro Vancouver and Fraser Valley regions.
We receive 50-75 new client referrals/self-referrals per week, with an active weekly caseload of several thousand clients. Waitlists for these services are minimal. MFFS does not receive any direct funding to provide counselling services from traditional funding sources such as Health Authorities (Fraser Health or Vancouver Coastal Health) or the Ministry for Children and Families.
MFFS is unique in operations compared to other non-profits in several distinct ways:
- We keep our operating costs low by using donated spaces to provide services in nearly a dozen locations throughout Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley. As well, we do not keep a management hierarchy with our counselling psychologists and social workers. This flat operational structure also dramatically lowers our operating costs, allowing more of our funds to go to services. For every dollar we receive, we likely put out 20-30 times that amount in service.
- We offer fee-based services, as well as free services provided by fully supervised, fully insured interns on practicum. Our fee-based service providers, in exchange for clients and space, provide mentorship to our interns. This, along with donated space and community support, allows us to be fairly self-contained, and not reliant on external factors such as shifts in government funding priorities
- We provide services to anyone, with any presenting issue. Most social service agencies focus on specific populations (i.e. children and youth; adults; seniors) or presenting issues (substance use; mental health; intimate partner violence; etc.) and therefore limit who they see. Interns are trained in the classroom to work with diverse populations, with a wide range of presenting issues. MFFS sees itself as an extension of that classroom, and does not want to limit the skillsets of our interns and counsellors. By having an open mandate, we are able to ease pressures off other services, such as school counsellors, child and youth mental health, and adult mental health and addictions. Our counsellors speak 15-plus languages and come from diverse communities themselves
- We do not cap the number of sessions we provide. If clients need longer-term support, we can provide it. This allows for longer-term healing
- Wherever appropriate, we emphasize family and community level services. If a family is impacted by an issue such as a loved one’s mental health, we believe not only should that one person receive counselling support, but so too should their loved ones. We believe the most impactful change takes places at the family and societal levels, and thus where appropriate target interventions at the family and community level.
- We emphasize early intervention, the value of intervention as prevention, and keep our waits at a minimum. We recognize that it takes immense courage to reach out for help, and that putting someone on wait list that is 6-months, 1-year or longer leads to immense suffering. We have observed that by the time someone on a wait list finally gets a call (a large number end up moving or changing numbers, and thus never end up receiving a service), they have given up and no longer are seeking help, or their circumstances have worsened considerably
- We emphasize partnerships and collaboration as a way to ensure clients receive the highest quality, integrated and holistic service. By having our interns in nearly 20 sites, including schools (public and private), recovery centres, doctors’ clinics women’s services agencies, places of worship and other non-profits we can work collaboratively to address the social and emotional health issues that cut cross all of these sectors by providing counselling and support to clients that frequent those sites. We do not repeat services, but rather provide an additional service that previously did not exist at a partner site, allowing us to augment the services of other providers and agencies.