STRENGTHENING THE COMMUNITIES IN YORK REGION
Working with key stakeholders in the community to preserve and enhance the social and economic well-being of every York Region resident is a huge responsibility. In 2000, the Health and Social Services Committee (now the Community Services and Housing Committee) embraced this immense responsibility with dedication, sound policy development and accountability. Strong planning and leadership in 2000 helped provide the innovative, accessible, high quality social services York Region citizens and communities have come to expect.
ENHANCED PROGRAMS AND SERVICES
In particular, families and children benefitted from enhanced services in three different program areas. The All Our Kids (AOK) Early Years pilot project established two new early child development and parenting support sites and also laid the groundwork for establishing further sites in 2001. This year more children of Ontario Works participants benefitted from the Summer Camp Program, which expanded from a single pilot program to an ongoing program offered in five area municipalities. In the tradition of being a recognized child care leader, York Region partnered with the Ontario government and other regional municipalities to develop a province-wide child care database system that will improve customer service through automated information tracking, efficient wait list management and program eligibility determination.
Expanding to new areas of responsibility, York Region assumed administrative and operational management of 1,695 public housing units as phase one of the Social Housing Devolution, which transferred the direct ownership and management of public housing from the Province to the Region. Additionally, in the area of residential services, the Region established a Lodging House By-Law and implemented a corresponding compliance program to ensure standards are met in such facilities.
IMPROVED PROGRAM PERFORMANCE
The Ontario Works program was at the forefront of improved program performance and achieved 285% of its Community Placement targets, earning the Region a bonus of $962,000 that will be re-invested into human services in York Region. Additionally, the Ontario Works caseload was reduced by 29% and 1,100 Ontario Works participants received timely and effective support that enabled them to leave social assistance for paid employment.
IMPROVED ACCESS TO SERVICES
Improving communication is key to improving customer access to services. In 2000 a variety of new publications were produced and widely distributed, including: a comprehensive Community Services and Housing information booklet of services and programs; YorkLink, an innovative community services directory of over 560 human service providers; Social Housing York, a quarterly newsletter aimed at improving communication with service providers, stakeholders and the public; and information brochures on Early Intervention Services, Child Care Services and the Learning, Earning and Parenting program. Additionally, all program and service information was posted and made YorkLink available through the Region's website for easier and immediate public access.
RESPONDED TO COMMUNITY NEEDS
York Region continued to respond to key community needs and to enable community agencies to increase their outreach to people at risk of abuse or homelessness. The Region focussed on the reality of homelessness in York Region by producing several reports including the York Region 2000 Housing Directions Study, Special Needs Housing Study and From Awareness to Action that will provide a framework for future service planning. Specifically, the report, The Widening Gap, highlighted the growing rate of low-income households in York Region and illustrated the challenge for community agencies to continue to provide effective services.