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Contemporary problems of the Vancouver social service index : an evaluation of the historical development and present policies of the Vancouver social service index Sopp, Edward John

Abstract

The Social Service Exchange began in Boston in 1873 at the same time that the art and the practice of social work were developing. The exchange grew out of the need to prevent duplication in giving among the social agencies, and as the thinking in the field of social work changed so the exchange varied in its function. It has now come to facilitate prevention of duplication in helping clients to solve their problems. This has been fostered by the growing schools of psychological thought which have emphasized that all practice must center on the client. The exchange organization in Vancouver has followed much the same pattern as the majority of the exchanges in North America by coming under the auspices of the Community Chests and Councils. As the town grew in size the exchange grew also. In addition there were numerous mergers until the Vancouver exchange was the clearing center for the whole province of British Columbia. At first the Vancouver Exchange was the 'hub of the social services' but by 1930 it became a tool of social planning under the auspices of the Community Chests and Councils. The Index has tended to become a mechanical process but recently it has begun to re-evaluate its function, only to find itself faced with innumerable problems in the fields of financing, registration policies and the like. There next follows a descriptive analysis of the present operation and function of the Vancouver Index. Starting with its place in the Community Chest and Council organization as a ‘service committee', the function of the Index Committee and the staff is outlined, together with the problems they face. Following this the methods of enrollment are dealt with, then the criteria for enrollment and the operation of the clearing process itself. Statistical facts are introduced to indicate the degree of efficiency of operation, followed by a review of the changing methods currently in use. The third section concerns the problems currently facing the Index. What is the reason that agencies are reducing their clearings, and is it the best policy? Why are the costs of clearings rising steadily, and is the price for this service more than the agencies can afford? The question of agency relationships and attitudes towards each other soon develops as a paramount factor and before this is evaluated it is impossible to determine whether there should be an Index or not. No attempt is made to determine the cause of the apparently negativistic attitudes of the agencies but its effects are considered as it is one of the most vital factors in the efficient functioning of the Index. Lastly, the use of the Index is shown as being beneficial to the client, the worker and the community. There is an evaluation of the present policies of registration currently followed and rather strong reasons presented why they should be shortly altered. It is felt that the present policy can lead only to the dissolution of the Index. The concluding section makes specific recommendations concerning the Index, both from a policy point of view and in the area of specific operation.

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