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The Vital Link

Parent Link celebrates 10 years

Under the auspices of Alberta Human Services, Parent Link centres provide parents and caregivers with free resources and support to develop nurturing environments to support early childhood development.

All Parent Link programs provide five core services: parent education, family supports, early childhood development, developmental check-ups, and information and referrals.

Operating in conjunction with Community Links, Airdrie’s Parent Links Centre is celebrating its 10th anniversary in the community this year.

Established in 2005, the local program focuses on children, aged birth to five years. (Some supports are also available for parents of older children.) Funding has allowed Community Links – which provides support and programs to North Rocky View (Airdrie, Crossfield, Balzac, Irricana, Beiseker, Kathryn, Keoma and the associated rural area) – to add or enhance programs and services.

Barb Gross, Community Links family resource services manager and Laurie Jacob-Toews, community services development manager, explain how the program has grown from serving 41 children and 31 adults in 2005 to serving 1,340 children and 933 adults this past year. “We have many different families, and they all learn from each other,” says Gross.

Jacob-Toews’ team, which operates in the community, “is often the first point of contact when people come in,” she says, “so they have a social work or related social services or humanities background.”

The team offers programs such as Pregnancy and Beyond groups in partnership with Alberta Health Services, Healthy Families and Community Links.

Programs are offered in the outlying communities, as well as at Bethany Care Centre, Luxstone Manor and Grace Baptist Church in Airdrie. “Part of our outreach is to reduce barriers for parents to get to programs. A lot of our parents are walking,” says Gross.

“We’ve expanded to meet the needs of the community,” Jacob-Toews says. “We have the same mandate but hours have been expanded over the last 10 years. We now have Thursday evening hours to accommodate those who are working full time, and we did some summer programming this year.”

Adds Gross: “We believe that every parent at some point in their parenting career has questions or needs support and we are here to answer those questions.”

Fall program information is online and in the Program Services Guide available at Community Links. Register by calling 403-945-3900 or toll-free 1-866-945-3905. Programs are free or can be subsidized and everyone is welcome.

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