January 22, 2020, 2020 ~ Vol. 90 No. 3
Provincial Funding Cuts may affect programs in the Pass
Crowsnest Pass Herald Front Page
David Selles
Pass Herald Reporter
The province has made some reductions in funding and also cut funding from certain programs.

Two local programs in the Crowsnest Pass may be gone because of it.

The Early Childhood Development Coalition (ECDC) will no longer exist after March 31st of this year and Parent Link will no longer exist, but has the opportunity to continue under new framework.

Coordinator for the ECDC, Julie Whidden, says she is disappointed with these funding cuts and says they were already planning certain activities before they were made aware.

“The thing that has changed for us is there are activities that we already have planned for this year just counting on getting that funding and obviously to hear that we're done is a disappointment. We did Spring Fever last year, which was the bike rodeo and family fair and we did the Family Wellness Fair, which was a day of workshops for parents and professionals. Those are two huge all day events that take a lot of partnerships and funding from local businesses that the Coalition was almost solely in charge of so unless there's funding under the new framework, joint with Parent Link, those won't happen.”

Jenny Wilmot, a Coordinator of Parent Link, says the programs status is up in the air at this time.

“We don't know if we will get funding. Parent Link's and the Early Childhood Coalition's funding ends on March 31st. We don't exist anymore and our funding is totally gone. We can reapply under the new framework but there's no guarantee we'll get any of that funding.”
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Wilmot says she’s feeling positive funding could still come their way for a couple of reasons.

“The upside for our centre is that we have a small staff. We're only considered a satellite compared to some Parent Link's that are full centres, so we get less funding than them already. The bonus with that is we're already functioning on lower funding than say Pincher Creek gets. Hopefully we can still operate on less funding in the future.”

Wilmot also says that if funding is received for the future, parents won’t see much difference in what’s offered.

“On the positive side, our hope is that we'll receive the funding and our parents won't notice a difference in service and they won't notice a difference in programming. We'll just have a new name.”

The history of Parent Link in the community also goes back many years as well.

“Parent Link has been in Horace Allen School and the Crowsnest Pass for 13 years doing programing for parents and parent workshops,” said Wilmot.

Both Parent Link and ECDC work together on certain programs as well that may or may not continue depending on funding.

“Right now, Julie and I as a coordinated program are running building brains. It's a program for executive functioning in children. We based it on a study that came out saying children in Alberta scored lower than the rest of Canada with all those skills that are for the front part of your brain and Crowsnest Pass scored even lower,” said Wilmot.

“We're always finding new and innovative things to do and new ways to help kids develop skills.”

There are many big events that are put on by Parent Link and ECDC.

“A big event that Parent Link puts on is the Clothing Fest. People in the community donate clothes along with the Salvation Army and Women's Resource Centre. We sort it all and families that are at risk or are identified by agencies can come in early and get clothing for their kids and then the rest of the community can come in as well so it's kind of a reuse/recycle kind of event,” said Wilmot.
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"The other one that we do with the school here that Parent Link heads up with support from other agencies is the Developmental Assessments called Ages in Stages. Every kid age 0 to Kindergarten come in and have a developmental assessment. From that we can educate parents what kids should be doing developmentally and social/emotional. Sometimes other things come up too. It's a great opportunity for families to come in and see where their kids are at and see if they need any referrals. We do it in partnership with Horace Allen because every kid coming into the school has a developmental assessment. We do them in May so that if any of the kids need eye appointments or anything like that it can be taken care of over the summer so that they're ready to start in the fall," said Wilmot.

Wilmot says those assessments were a Parent Link mandate and that no other agency has it as a mandate.

Wilmot added that if they don't get funding those assessments could possibly not be happening anywhere in the community.

Parent Link also works at reducing isolation.

Wilmot says that in smaller town and communities it can be more difficult for little kids to find things to do.

“There can be a lot of isolation for younger kids so it gives them some place to go.”

While the isolation can hinder kids slightly, Wilmot says it may actually help in getting funding.

“I do feel fairly positive we will because we're an isolated community and they are looking at that and our demographics and location is all part of that granting process.”

Both Parent Link and the Coalition have been looking at other funding opportunities as well.

“At the Coalition, there's a board that sits and there's other agencies on that board so we've had those conversations about if we don't get funding what will happen. We have been having conversations with other agencies for some of the services that really should not be leaving but all their programs are granted to so it makes it difficult. We do get some funding from other areas like Teck so the one that I won't let go because it's really important is doing the Ages in Stages to make sure that it continues in the community.”

Wilmot has been receiving letters of support to go along with her request for funding from the schools and other partners.

Wilmot says they've been told they will know about future funding by mid-February but personally feels that timeline is fast.

"I feel like that's a really fast turnaround. There are two types of grants you see. This one was an open invitation you receive and they're inviting everyone and encouraging creativity. When you do that, it can mean some really long applications so I have to think it will take them longer than that."

Wilmot believes it will be a huge loss to the community if no funding can be found.

“The sadness is that it will be a loss to the community. We've had plenty of parents say that having Parent Link and having events to go to is what made them stay in the Crowsnest Pass because they were able to make connections with other families.”
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January 22, 2020, 2020 ~ Vol. 90 No. 3
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