The Community Sector
The community sector helps strengthen the safety net for young victims of sexual exploitation. Learn more about the main challenges this sector faces.
Community organizations respond to a common issue or need expressed by a group of people, and their objective is to bring about social transformation. They use a variety of actions and strategies that target everything from prevention to mobilizing the community. Community organizations seek to intervene in the economic, political, social and cultural variables that affect the well-being of communities.
Their mandates, roles and responsibilities
Community organizations centre their actions on the needs expressed by the community. Through their innovative social policies and their expertise in the field, they contribute to the community’s social development.
With their more flexible intervention framework, it is possible for community intervention workers to develop relationships of trust with youth, allowing them to build bridges between youth and the intervention workers operating in the public sphere. Community organizations thus support institutional interventions with respect to prevention and identification by providing youth with assistance, support and activities. Through their outreach work with youth, community intervention workers are in a position to identify or detect situations of sexual exploitation before a more formal intervention takes place. The complementarity of their work and their presence in the daily lives of youth, allow community workers to play an important role in providing support and contributing to the strengthening of their safety net.
“Naturally, there is a relationship of trust with the youth and also a relationship of trust between intervention workers [with respect to sharing confidential information]. It’s so important to have these discussions around the table to get to know each other, but also to find out how we can work together without endangering that relationship.”
— Community stakeholder
Framework, regulations and policies
Under the Act respecting health services and social services, a community organization is defined as being a legal person, availing itself of a legal personality separate from that of the people it is made up of.
The Bill or the Letters Patent, issued by the Inspector General of Financial Institutions under the Companies Act, constitutes the founding charter of community organizations, thus formalizing their existence.
A community organization is safeguarded by general by-laws that determine its role, its responsibilities and the powers of its decision-making bodies.
A community organization is not-for-profit and is regulated by an administrative council consisting of community members.
Types of professionals working there
A wide range of professionals works in the community sector, such as facilitators, intervention workers and street workers. These professionals establish relationships of trust with youth, becoming front-line resources that contribute towards identifying and preventing sexual exploitation.
In addition, support personnel (administration, human resources, communications, research, programs and projects) participate in the creation of projects and ensure the smooth operation of the organization in fulfilling its mission and vision.
“It is important to remember that, in many situations, community organizations can lend support to institutional-type interventions. This may be the case when a youth’s safety or development has not been deemed to be compromised, when a youth runs away from home, or when a youth is approaching the age of 18 and is without resources. Simply giving the youth the name of community resources is not enough, because to establish a relationship of trust, you have to build a personal connection by offering support even before the youth centre’s services end.”
— (CIUSSS de la Capitale-Nationale, 2018)
Their primary challenges
One of the primary challenges that community organizations face is that of being under-funded. In fact, funding allocated by different levels of government often requires establishing new projects, making it difficult to continue to support projects already underway.
Community organizations often have problems with employee retention due to the precarious nature of the conditions under which they work and low wages. Employees are often overworked and suffer from burnout.
Employee turnover is a challenge when obtaining or preserving relationships of trust between organizations and other sectors. In fact, relationships of trust with youth and other organization partners sometimes need to be re-established each time there is a personnel change.
Community street workers are often confronted with a lack of knowledge about their roles and approaches, which sometimes makes their interactions with stakeholders from other sectors more complicated. Street workers deal with a wide range of clients and on the basis of very distinct mandates. They use methods such as harm reduction by informing, educating and distributing preventive materials to people living risky lifestyles. They connect vulnerable or at-risk populations with the various resources available. Life experiences and personal qualities are essential to street workers, whose interventions are based on an open, non-judgemental approach, within a defined ethical framework.
Do you want to find out more?
To find out more about how community organizations are structured and how they function, consult:
Agence de développement de réseaux locaux de services de santé et de services sociaux. Local Health And Social Services Network Development Agencies. (2005). Guide à l’intention des organismes communautaires. (Link only in French)
Agence de développement de réseaux locaux de services de santé et de services sociaux. (2005). Guide à l’intention des organismes communautaires. (lien)
- Agence de développement de réseaux locaux de services de santé et de services sociaux. (2005). Guide à l’intention des organismes communautaires. Recovered from (link PDF)
- ATTRueQ. (1997). Le travail de rue : de l’oral à l’écrit. Recovered from (link PDF)
- Centre de documentation sur l’éducation des adultes et la condition féminine. (2019). Des défis majeurs de fidélisation et de rétention de la main-d’oeuvre dans les organismes communautaires en santé et services sociaux. Recovered from (link)
- CIUSSS de la Capitale-Nationale. (2018). Manuel du formateur : Prévention et intervention en exploitation sexuelle et prostitution juvénile. Unpublished document (only in french).
- MAINS. Qu’est-ce que l’action communautaire autonome. Recovered from (link)
- Ménard Martin Avocats. (s.d.). Les organismes communautaires. Recovered from (link)