MOUNTAIN VIEW COUNTY – Parent Link programs throughout Mountain View County and Alberta in general are facing challenges after the provincial government announced that it was cancelling about 450 grants and contracts with 300 organizations that run Parent Link centres as well as other services.
The programs are expected to be replaced by a new provincial model called Family Resource Networks.
In Mountain View County, Parent Link is based in Didsbury with centres and services in Carstairs, Cremona-Water Valley, Sundre and Olds, as well as rural areas.
Nicole Aasen, manager of community services for the Town of Didsbury, said the town holds the contract for the Mountain View Parent Link program with Alberta Children’s Services.
There are seven staff members currently employed by the Mountain View Parent Link program, she said.
“We offer three days of programs within each of the five urban centres within Mountain View County,” said Aasen. “We serve hundreds of families through these programs.”
Aasen said they received notice from the provincial government of the upcoming termination of the program and subsequent restructuring.
“We received a notice that all contracts for Parent Link will be terminated effective March 31, 2020 (the end of the current contract year),” she said.
“The notice was issued provincewide to all current Parent Link contract holders.”
Aasen said the province, through Alberta Children's Services, is looking to expand the services offered to children and families in Alberta to include 0-18 (Parent Link currently serves ages 0-6).
“They are also looking to provide a more full range of services for these age groups, which need to include universal, targeted and early intervention programs and services,” she said.
“This is based on the well-being and resiliency framework that has been adopted by the Ministry of Children’s Services.”
The province currently has an expression of interest for agencies to apply to offer these expanded services through a variety of identified network areas within Alberta, Aasen said.
“Mountain View County has been identified as a network area within the expression of interest,” she said. “Funding will be provided to the successful applicants for a three-year term for programs that meet the new requirements within the expression of interest.
“Parent Link programs, as they look now, will no longer exist within Alberta effective March 31, 2020. However, in its place will be more robust services for children and families that can meet greater needs and offer enhanced services and programs.
“It is the Town of Didsbury’s intent to submit a proposal for this expression of interest.”