Blackfalds council commits to supporting Parent Link programming

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Blackfalds Parent Link Centre programming will officially continue through the end of March.

At their regular meeting Nov, 26, after coming out of in camera discussion, Blackfalds town council unanimously voted in favour of contributing up to $21,000 to ensure programming is maintained in light of news the Central Parkland Parent Link Network, which they fall under, would have its current funding with the Alberta Ministry of Children’s Services end as of March 31, 2020.

While the province has launched an Expression of Interest process en route to realigning and consolidating how prevention and early intervention services are delivered and say many centres who apply for the newly created Family Resource Network grants covering services for children between 0-18 years of age, will be awarded new funding contracts under the new framework – and Blackfalds will pursue such funding – uncertainty of what it will look like resulted in council’s decision.

“Our council has followed the success story that is Blackfalds Parent Link,” said Blackfalds Mayor Richard Poole in a release issued Friday afternoon. “We have witnessed firsthand how it touches lives and provides training, support and encouragement for families. To stop its operation during the months following Christmas, when many families feel challenged, would be a mistake that our council feels cannot be made.

“We look forward to working with our MLA and our minister to find ways to recover this expenditure, but in the meantime fully support its continuation until the new funding model is developed – which we hope will also include funding for the Community Capacity Building Initiative.”

The Community Capacity Building Initiative, which supports a Community Services Dept. staff position for facilitating donations to support community programs like the Christmas Bureau, Winter Coats for Kids, Tools for Schools, the Blackfalds Food Bank, Leisure Access Pass and Bridging Diversity, a gathering for Blackfalds residents and new Canadians, not to mention supporting at-risk children and their families.

The future of Parent Link programming in Lacombe is unknown at this time, and more information will be known in the new year.

The local Parent Link centres, operated through Lacombe FCSS for the past 15 years, are aimed at offering resources and programming to support the areas of early childhood development and parent education, from cooking and self care classes to game nights and crafting events.

The Central Parkland Parent Link Network operates in Lacombe and Blackfalds, as well as Wetaskiwin, Ponoka, and Rimbey. Outreach programming is also offered in Clive, Mirror and Bentley.

Program schedules for the first three months of the new year will be released via both the Blackfalds Parent Link Centre and Town of Blackfalds Facebook pages once it has been finalized Dec. 16.