Lakeland area families and children will continue to receive the developmental and educational supports they rely on, through a newly-established branch of Cold Lake and District FCSS.
Cold Lake Family Connections (CLFC) is a place designed specifically for children, parents, families and caregivers.
It combines an interactive play space with dedicated areas for family-centred group and one-on-one programming, aimed at strengthening bonds and keeping families together.
“We know children are best able to reach their full developmental potential when they’re surrounded by those who support and care about them,” said Kim Schmidtz, Manager of Cold Lake and District FCSS.
“Our goal is to keep kids with their families or relatives whenever possible; we don’t want to see them go into government care. One of the best ways to accomplish this is by ensuring parents and caregivers feel supported and have the skills to solve problems and be resilient when faced with adversity.”
Cold Lake Family Connections was designed to continue and build upon a popular and well-attended program in the community, after a service delivery change resulted in the closure of more than 300 Parent Link Centres across the province in November 2019, including the centre operated by Cold Lake and District FCSS.
Programming in Alberta is now delivered through a “hub and spoke” model, where “hubs” (Family Resource Networks) coordinate services for a larger geographic area (the Lakeland FRN covers Cold Lake, St. Paul and Bonnyville) and “spokes” (local service providers such as Cold Lake Family Connections) deliver programming directly to the client.
Recognizing the immediate need for dedicated child and family programming in the community, the City of Cold Lake submitted an expression of interest to the provincial government to develop Cold Lake Family Connections and deliver this “spoke” service through the Lakeland Family Resource Network.
“This is a critical service to the people of this city and community,” said Mayor Craig Copeland. “When we learned FCSS would no longer be receiving the funding to operate the Parent Link Centre, Council knew we had to take steps to ensure these services and programs remained available to our residents, and so Cold Lake Family Connections was born.”
CLFC programming focuses on three main objectives:
- Child Development – Children and youth learn best through play, social interactions, and the presence of a healthy, stable role model(s) within the family unit or support system. CLFC’s Child Development program encourages parents and caregivers to build and foster opportunities to support a child’s social, physical, cognitive, emotional, and spiritual well-being to help them reach their full development potential.
- Family Support – Strong families are resilient, independent families. Encouraging family bonds and community connections creates strong, supportive and responsive relationships within the family unit, while helping families develop coping skills and maintain their independence.
- Caregiver Education – Children look to their parents or guardians for guidance, stability, support and to set a positive example. The caregiver education program supports parents and caregivers by encouraging healthy development, increasing confidence and developing positive parenting skills. These education sessions help parents build resiliency, expand their skillsets, and promote safe and nurturing environments to support healthy development in children.
“Our former Parent Link Centre was very busy and many families came to rely on it. The number of people utilizing this resource nearly doubled over the past five years,” said Schmidtz.
“In 2019, we recorded over 20,000 visits, and we expect that number will continue climbing as we transition to, and expand upon these services with Cold Lake Family Connections.”
Supported by the City of Cold Lake and the Government of Alberta, CLFC programs and services support children from birth to age 18, and are offered free of charge while maintaining privacy and confidentiality.
They build on strengths in Indigenous families and communities while acknowledging historical injustices against Indigenous people which continue to affect family life today.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, FCSS resources are available by appointment and virtually. Drop-in programs including the Cold Lake Family Connections play space and jungle gym are temporarily closed.