People in Slave Lake with small children are likely very familiar with Parent Link and the Early Childhood Development Coalition. These organizations offered early literacy and other programs for small children in Slave Lake. In March, they were closed because the Alberta government changed the way it funded this type of service.
In mid-April, Slave Lake received new funding for a different type of family support.
In the past, both were run by the Town of Slave Lake in Slave Lake and Wabasca.
The new model has hubs and spokes, says Garry Roth, Town of Slave Lake Director of Community Services. Slave Lake will be a spoke from the Association of High Prairie and District Children’s Resource Council. The two Slave Lake workers will work in Slave Lake, the M.D. of Lesser Slave River, and the M.D. of Opportunity (Wabasca).
Parent Link had two full-time and one part-time worker in Slave Lake and one full-time and one as needed staff in Wabasca.
A decreased number of staff won’t be the only change.
Under the new model, says Roth, there won’t be a specific children’s resources centre as there was in the past.
The biggest change however is the focus of the program. Parent Link only catered to kids zero to six. The new program will have resources for children zero to 18.
“It’s a completely different approach to helping parents who need it the most,” says Roth. The new approach is more focused. The focus of the program is to identify families who are struggling or at risk. Instead of having drop-in and other programs which are open to the whole community. Much of the work will be what is called ‘stronger together home visitation’.
It will take some time to set up the new model, but one of the first things which will be implemented is a toy-lending library. High Prairie area already has one. All of the toys are itemized online, parents make an order, and come pick them up. The same system will be used in Slave Lake.