The Town of Cochrane received good news this week with the announcement that the Family Resource Network will be coming to the community.
The Network is presented by Alberta Children's Services to provide essential family support resources that aim to meet the needs of children ages zero to 18.
This is especially exciting news because Parent Link, a service that supported the community for 14 years, was shuttered late last year leaving many parents concerned and pessimistic about what the future could hold.
When the funding to Parent Link was cut families were left out in the dark, questioning what support their children could expect from the province.
The Family Resource Network allows us to be cautiously optimistic for the future and have some trust that the province remains dedicated to supporting young families and vulnerable populations.
The Network is especially exciting because it can support and help children up to the age of 18.
This is great news for our community— young families are a critical part of the Town of Cochrane cultural mosaic and it is important to provide aid to children to help them find success and thrive.
The Minister of Children's Services Rebecca Shulz has said the Family Resource Network will deliver prevention and early intervention services and supports through a provincial network of community-based service providers. Support will especially be target towards families facing poverty or trauma who may need guidance to build healthy families and contribute to healthy communities.
This, in turn, has the potential to reduce the number of children that will come into provincial care.
"Going forward, the new Family Resource Networks will rectify the service gap that can exist for school-age children and using world-leading practice guides help at-risk kids grow up to lead productive and meaningful lives no matter where they live or how much income their family earns,” Schulz said.
This announcement is a light of hope in what has been a challenging year for many.
As a community and province, we all share a role in ensuring no child is left behind and the Family Resource Network will help ensure that our most vulnerable are not left to fend for themselves.
The provincial Family Networks can provide families with ongoing support in many critical areas that can include strengthening parenting and caregiving knowledge, social support, coping and problem-solving skills, access to community supports and resources, improving child and youth development, building resiliency and fostering well-being.
These offerings will be critical in filling gaps and supporting families in need, an action more important than ever during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Network serves as a reminder that a community is stronger when we work together and support each other in difficult times.
"I think the Family Resource Network model is actually really beautiful and will be a huge asset to the community," said the manager of Cochrane Family and Community Support Services Kim Krawec. "The model itself is really well done and will provide a continuum of support for families."