CAEFS Strategic Plan

CAEFS Strategic Plan


November 6, 2011

CAEFS Strategic Plan


Table of Contents


1. Vision and Foundational Documents3

2. The External and Internal Environment4

3. CAEFS Framework6

4. Strategic Priorities and Outcomes7

5. Strategies and Actions7

6. Ongoing Work11

7. Resource Base12

8. Monitoring and Evaluation Plan13

Appendix A: CAEFS Vision

Appendix B: Six Levels of Consensus


The Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies (CAEFS) strategic plan sets out the strategic priorities of the organization over the coming five years. The plan involves and includes the whole E. Fry network: local, regional and national levels.

1. Vision and Foundational Documents


Canada without Prisons

An explanation of the analysis behind this vision and the history of how it emerged is attached as Appendix A.

Mission Statement

CAEFS is an association of self-governing, community-based Elizabeth Fry Societies that work with and for women and girls in the justice system, particularly those who are, or may be, criminalized. Together, Elizabeth Fry Societies develop and advocate the beliefs, principles and positions that guide CAEFS. The association exists to ensure substantive equality in the delivery and development of services and programs through public education, research, legislative and administrative reform, regionally, nationally and internationally.

Beliefs, Operating Philosophy, Goals and Principles

CAEFS has a series of foundational documents, in addition to the vision and mission, which guide the work of the organization. These include the Beliefs, Operating Philosophy, Goals and Principles.

Action:CAEFS developed a revised document that integrates the beliefs, principles and operating philosophy. It is as follows.


CAEFS is an association of self-governing, community-based Elizabeth Fry Societies that work with and for women and girls in the justice system, particularly those who are, or may be, criminalized. Together, Elizabeth Fry Societies develop and advocate the beliefs, principles and positions that guide CAEFS. The association exists to ensure substantive equality in the delivery and development of services and programs through public education, research, legislative and administrative reform, regionally, nationally and internationally.


Member societies support the following principles:

  • While the strength of our federation is the freedom to meet the needs of our communities in unique and effective ways, as an Association, CAEFS develops policies and positions and acts on common interests affecting women.
  • Women’s rights are human rights and women are entitled to substantive equality; that is, the right of access to equal opportunities and programs in the justice system; as well as the right to justice without fear of prejudice or discrimination on the basis of such factors as sex, race, disability, sexual orientation, age, religion and freedom of conscience, social or economic condition.
  • Women who are criminalized should not be imprisoned; all efforts will be made to prevent women from being incarcerated and to facilitate the earliest community integration of those who are sentenced to a term of imprisonment.


  • To increase public awareness and promotion of decarceration for women.
  • To reduce the numbers of women who are criminalized and imprisoned in Canada.
  • To increase the availability of community-based, publicly funded, social service, health and educational resources available for marginalized, victimized, criminalized and imprisoned women.
  • To increase collaborative work among Elizabeth Fry Societies and other women’s groups working to address poverty, racism, and other forms of oppression.

2. The External and Internal Environment

External Environment

There are a wide range of relationships that are important to achieving the organization’s goals. These are summarized in the chart below. It should be noted that this is not an exhaustive list but gives an indication of the range and complexity of the relationships in the CAEFS environment.

Some observations:

  • The local, regional and national organizations have a lot of relationships and partners.
  • Some of the relationships that locals have are very different from the relationships that the national has.
  • Not everyone knows each other relationships and so women working in different parts of the organization can not always build on each other’s knowledge.
  • There were few funding relationships and CAEFS relies heavily on one funding source.

Some Factors in the External Environment

Criminal justice system:

  • “Law and order” agenda: longer sentences, severe penalties, harsh treatment in institutions
  • Few programs for women in maximum security units and for those leaving institutions
  • Little or no commitment to alternatives to prison, or to reintegration options
  • Women are fastest growing prison population, esp. Aboriginal and other racialized women, and women with mental health disabilities. Increased criminalization of battered women, sexually abused and exploited women and girls, poor women, women with addictions, etc.
  • Public perception that there may be a new profile of criminalized and imprisoned women and girls? System fuelling perception that women are becoming more violent, without any examination of the manner in which limited community resources and increasingly isolated and isolating prison environments and regimes are increasing resistance among prisoners
  • Aging lifer population and increased age polarization among women in prison and on parole

Canadian society

  • Collapse of social safety net, reduced services (e.g. welfare eliminated and replaced by workfare, reduced social and health services in mental health, education, etc.)
  • Poverty
  • Unemployment
  • Housing, homelessness
  • Racism
  • Patriarchy, backlash against women who defend or otherwise react to violence against themselves and others [usually children], absurd belief that women have gained equality
  • Perceived shift in public attitude about victimization and criminal justice issues
  • Media response, including high profile cases
  • Youth gun violence
  • New, cheap, available drugs
  • Pending elections (federal, provincial, municipal)

Funding Environment

  • Competition for funding sources and donors
  • Possible cuts to core funding
  • Reduced funding available
  • Invited to apply for project funding that has limited prospect of continuity

Internal Issues and Challenges

A series of key internal issues are important to take into account in the strategic plan:

  • Regionalization: need to assess if it has been effective, to take lessons learned from the experience of it
  • Network: lack of cohesion and communication among members and CAEFS, autonomy issues, need better ways for resolving disagreements
  • Funding is a constant challenge: never enough resources, vulnerability to losing funding, many local societies have already lost some funding sources
  • Board leadership and effectiveness: need to clarify board and ED roles, leadership, ensure transparent decisions throughout CAEFS

3. CAEFS Framework

CAEFS has an analysis based on the economic and human costs of incarceration and the benefits to society of alternatives. CAEFS needs to succinctly describe this framework.

Action:CAEFS revised the existing fact sheet and distributed a description of the analysis or framework underlying its work.

4. Strategic Priorities and Outcomes

The CAEFS network (local, regional, national) has chosen the following key priorities to focus on over the next five years:

1.Fewer women in prison.

CAEFS will work pro-actively and preventively for systemic change and will intervene in the cases of individual women to seek to reduce the number of women in prison.

2.More extensive community services and options with and for women. CAEFS will work to educate the public, the media, all levels of government and the criminal justice system about the economic and social costs of incarceration, and the benefits to society of creating community options (e.g. the Human Rights in Action Project with NWAC and SIS will facilitate this).

3. Unified and interconnected CAEFS network.

CAEFS will adjust its communication practices, review regionalization to ensure the organizational structure supports the implementation of the strategic plan, and create organizational processes to enable healthy and open dialogue and support the building of a shared vested interest.

4.Stable and sufficient funding base.

CAEFS will create and implement a communications plan and a fund development strategy to pursue a variety of other funding sources, including donors, granting bodies, fund-raising events and others.

5. Strong and effective board.

CAEFS will create a board structure that enables everyone in the network to have a vested interest in the success of CAEFS, and will enhance the board orientation and supports, and put in place a board work plan

5. Strategies and Actions

1.Fewer women in prison

CAEFS will support regional and local social action activities on key issues by undertaking background work and coordinating actions across the country. This requires proactive information sharing between local, regional and national offices.

The key issues are chosen to address the emerging “law and order” agenda and also to set out CAEFS’ alternative vision and policies for a more effective criminal justice response. The key issues include:

i) Decarceration

  • Remand and bail
  • Housing and social / financial assistance
  • Segregation, maximum security, and overcrowding
  • Parole, statutory release
  • Classification and community programming
  • Alternatives to criminalization and imprisonment
  • Human Rights in Action project
  • Correctional accountability

ii) Substantive equality

  • Community institutions and supports related to mental illness, AIDS, legal aid, and other areas
  • Immigrant women (Dominique will do a manual)
  • Aboriginal and racialized women
  • Criminalization of women with mental health and intellectual disabilities
  • Issues for young women and girls

iii) Proposed new legislation

  • Access to justice (e.g. legal aid, court challenges, law commission)
  • Mandatory minimum sentences (including 3 strikes-style proposals)
  • Reduced access to conditional sentences
  • Proposed reductions in conditional releasing
  • Youth Justice
  • Immigration and detention issues
  • Anti-privatization work (such as electronic monitoring)

iv) International Work

  • addressing the discriminatory treatment of women in/from prison
  • immigration and detention issues.

B. Strategies

i) Prevention

CAEFS will work to inform and educate judges, lawyers, academics, politicians, bureaucrats and the public about the consequences of criminalizing women and sending them to jail (both for the women and for society at large), the societal forces which contribute to women being criminalized, and what the alternatives are to incarceration.

Specific approaches will be developed for each of these audiences, including:

  • sharing research and studies,
  • providing education and professional development sessions,
  • encouraging the relevant professional institutions to provide education,
  • establishing dialogues between the decision-makers and women with lived experience,
  • intervening in individual cases and systemic advocacy,
  • working in partnership with other organizations.

Human rights complaints will also be used in some provinces to shed light on conditions.

ii) Intervention

For cases of specific women, CAEFS will continue the main elements of its current work on these issues, including: interventions with women serving long sentences, as well as those subject to 15 year judicial reviews, the CSC management protocol and other limitations on liberty. CAEFS will also work to encourage diversion, dropping of charges, sentencing options and, for women sent to prison, release as soon as possible, through legal challenges and interventions. This will include issues related to conditions of confinement, education and information work with judges, lawyers, and others, and encouraging the Parole Board to intervene, e.g. to provide counterweight to victim statements.

CAEFS will work via the Human Rights in Action project to ensure peer support teams are developed in each of the regions. CAEFS will also seek to have additional external judicial review of corrections, as well as the development of a Prisoners Fund established for the purpose of assisting women to directly challenge unfair or illegal policies and practices.

2. More extensive community services for women

i) Positive image campaign

CAEFS will undertake a campaign to profile the effectiveness of E Fry work with respect to cost savings (compared with incarceration) and with respect to public safety. This will be a campaign with national and local components, involving media, working with MPs, and reaching out to community groups. The purpose of this campaign is to build support for community services for women.

ii) Program support

To support work by local societies providing community services, CAEFS will strengthen the national website to share program and other information among local societies. The website will be searchable and as user-friendly as possible. It would be useful to have a member-only section. Information posted on the website will continue to include:

  • programs offered by each local society (program description, funding sources, materials used, etc.)
  • fact sheets, research and reports on various issues CAEFS is working on, including the issues noted under the first priority, “Fewer women in prison”.

In addition, the Members Only section will include:

  • an updated CAEFS policy manual
  • Board and Executive Director orientation packages, including various orientation materials used by different local societies, and a basic orientation package explaining CAEFS, the roles and relationships of local societies and national, and the advocacy process
  • staff and volunteer training materials used by local societies
  • media kit and media materials

Local societies will be responsible for providing the relevant information, and the national office will undertake to post materials and to oversee design and maintenance of the site.

3.Unified and interconnected CAEFS network

A. Regionalization/Structural Review

CAEFS will conduct a structural review to assess the strengths and shortcomings associated with its current structure, and identify options for the future, including possible changes.

In particular, the review will address:

a) relationships among and between local societies, regional structures and the national level;

b) the role of regional advocates and their place within the overall structure, as well as the roles of other parts of the local, regional and national structures regarding advocacy;

c) accountability of local, regional and national entities;

d) the scope and implementation of local society autonomy within the overall structure;

e) the roles of local, regional and national structures in addressing the situation of federally and provincially sentenced women;

f)funding of local, regional and national levels.

The review will include:

a)a description by each region of their current structure, services, communication, decision-making, and division of roles and responsibilities;

b)gathering of input from all local societies, regional bodies, and national board and staff;

c)an overview of models and structures used by other national organizations;

d)analysis of the current structure, its strengths and weaknesses;

e)development of options for the future structure;

f)feedback on the options from the network

The decision-making process should seek to develop consensus around the recommendations.

The review will be guided by a steering committee of regional and national board representatives.

Following direction from the Board, the Committee will continue to work on the regionalization review process and will continue to seek funding to continue the work and hire a consultant.

B. Communications

i) Social Networking

The national web site and Members’ section will be upgraded and expanded as required. In addition to e-mail, CAEFS will continue to develop twitter and other forms of social media.

ii) Orienting Executive Directors

Particularly for new Executive Directors, there are often gaps in knowledge related to the history of CAEFS, roles and responsibilities of various positions in the network, how to use the resources of CAEFS, etc. The following are some measures to share organizational memory and expertise among different parts of the network:

  • match new EDs with experienced EDs, to help them understand the context of various decisions, organizational practices, etc.
  • hold more frequent ED meetings.

4.Stable and sufficient funding base

i) Emergency plan

In the event that funds to CAEFS are cut with little or no notice, the following steps will be taken:

  • A letter writing campaign will be launched among all local societies, partners and allies at the local, regional, national and international levels.

ii) Fund Development Plan

CAEFS will create and implement a fund development strategy to pursue a variety of other funding sources, and a committee to develop and oversee this strategy. This will include:

  • Identifying foundations and other potential sources of funding, and preparing proposals for them
  • Undertaking planned giving campaign
  • Pursuing corporate donors
  • Considering a national fundraising day for E Fry in Canada

iii) Positive image campaign

The campaign to profile the work of CAEFS (referred to above under “More community services”) will also have some positive spinoff for fund-raising, as more donors in the community will know about CAEFS and the effectiveness of our work,