Program Transformation

Our goal with transformation is better results for Nova Scotians. We want to make it easier for people to get the services they need to reach their goals in the best and most efficient way possible. And we want to make sure we can continue to serve Nova Scotians for years to come.

DCS posted two RFPs on the Nova Scotia Procurement Website. As part of DCS’s process of transforming how programs and services are designed, delivered, and managed, two Requests for Proposals (RFPs) were issued on October 28, for professional services in support of transforming the Employment Support and Income Assistance (ESIA), and Child, Youth and Family Supports (CYFS) programs. The RFPs require the successful firm to work with our staff, project teams and leadership teams to analyze complex policy issues, legislation, regulations and to work with our staff to develop new policies and implement improvements that will help DCS achieve its desired outcomes for each program area.

These RFPs represent an important milestone on our transformation journey.

Disability Support Program:

Our vision for a transformed Disability Support Program (DSP) is to strengthen existing community-based programs. We want to focus on the person and what they can do – not their disability. This new system will support people’s independence. At the same time we will respect the choices they make. The goal is more flexible, sustainable, and personal supports that give people a greater sense of belonging and involvement in their community. Read our Roadmap for Transforming the DSP program.

The DSP Transformation work continues to progress. We most recently completed our 2016 Roadshow around the province for families, participants, service providers and members of the community. You can see the complete roadshow presentation here. We received great feedback from all who participated and are currently working on compiling the feedback from the discussions. We are accepting additional comments and feedback until January 3rd, 2017 at

One question we asked at each session was how we could communicate better to our external stakeholders, including our clients and their families. Several service providers suggested providing updates by way of a newsletter.

The DSP Connection is the Disability Support Program’s (DSP) newsletter for people interested in learning more about DSP’s services and supports, and to keep people connected, informed and engaged on the transformation work underway with the DSP Program.

If you have any questions at all, please feel free to send an email to

Employment Support and Income Assistance:

The purpose of the Employment Support and Income Assistance (ESIA) Transformation Project is to reform the current program to help people on Income Assistance become self-sufficient, independent and more included in their communities and the economy. Ultimately, we want clients to have more control over their own lives to promote independence, and a system that enables faster decisions, less paperwork, easier access to programs and training, and greater success in helping clients find employment or labour market attachment sooner.

The ESIA Transformation Project is being carried out over three phases. The first phase wrapped up in July 2015. Phase 1 focused on finalizing research, creating awareness, and forming a shared vision in order to build the framework that will guide the work of phase 2. During phase 1, over 200 community-based stakeholders as well as ESIA staff across the Province participated in what was called Round One Stakeholder Engagement in July and August 2015. During Round One, stakeholders were asked to provide feedback on the future vision for the ESIA Program.

Phase 2 of the ESIA Transformation is also complete. Although the focus of Phase 2 was primarily on analysis and design, some administrative and client service improvements were developed and implemented over the summer and fall, 2016. This included administrative changes to simplify the system for caseworkers and for clients and some redesign of policies and programs and the way in which services are delivered.

Phase 2 also included first voice consultations with ESIA Program recipients and a report, First Voice Public Report, was created and released in September 2016. This report (read the complete report (PDF)) is a summary of the Employment Support and Income Assistance First Voice Engagement sessions held in February and March, 2016. The report provides a window into the conversations we had with clients about their hopes and ideas for a better program.

Round 2 of the Staff/Stakeholder Engagement process was also conducted in late October/November and early December 2016. During this time-frame we held staff and community- based stakeholder engagement sessions across the Province and invited 100 ESIA staff and 175 organizations. (download the complete Stakeholder Engagement presentation (PDF)). These sessions provided a progress update on what had been completed to date and provided the department with the opportunity to validate and collect input on specific topics to further inform the design of the transformation related work.

Phase 3 of ESIA Transformation is underway and is focused on implementing the changes identified in phase 1 and 2. Information sessions were held for clients and stakeholders over the months of October and November 2018. (download the complete Client/Stakeholder Information presentation (PDF).) 17 sessions took place in 15 communities across the Province. During these sessions, 350 participants were provided information about improvements to the ESIA Program which were implemented over the Summer and Fall of 2018. In addition, upcoming changes, such as the implementation of the Standard Household Rate, were discussed. These sessions provided participants with the information they need to better understand how changes to the ESIA program will impact them, while providing more clarity about the work the department is engaged in over the next year.

If you have any questions at all, please feel free to send an email to

Child, Youth and Family Supports Programs:

The Child, Youth and Family Supports (CYFS) transformation project was launched with the goal of improving the system’s effectiveness to achieve better outcomes for children, youth and families before they are in crisis.

So far under CYFS transformation, the Department has:

  • Made approximately 90 amendments to the Children and Family Services Act. The amendments address the gap in the protection of youth from 16 up to 19 years of age, remove provisions that impair permanency, promote collaborative work with families where possible, and help to streamline court processes. The amendments to the Act are expected to be proclaimed in the fall 2016.
  • Implemented the provincial Sexual Violence Strategy, Breaking the Silence. To read about accomplishments so far, check out the Progress Report.
  • Expanded the Parenting Journey program to additional 15 programs across the province. Of the 27 programs province-wide, three have been customized to support culturally relevant services in Aboriginal, African Nova Scotian and Acadian communities.

The second phase of work for CYFS transformation is currently underway, and will continue through 2017. This work involves engaging staff and stakeholders in the design of improved services, and the roll out of new programs and policies. In phase two, we will:

  • Implement the amendments to the Children and Family Services Act including the related changes to regulations and policy - once the Act is proclaimed.
  • Launch the Families Plus pilot in Sydney to provide an intensive 24-hour support program to ensure that children who are at imminent risk of placement in care can stay at home with their family in a safe, stable and nurturing environment.
  • Improve supports to foster parents by streamlining the reimbursement process, implementing additional automatic payments, and improving after hours support to better meet the needs of all children in the Ministers care.
  • Create a new Access and Transportation model to better meet the needs of the child while being flexible and sustainable.

To read more about what is underway, we are pleased to release our bi-monthly CYFS Transformation Newsletter, “The CYFS Connection”(English | French). This newsletter is for people interested in learning more about services and supports, and to keep people connected and informed of the transformation work underway with the CYFS Program.

If you have any questions, please feel free to send an email to