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Cold Lake and Bonnyville respond to uncertain future of Parent Link Centres

Cold Lake is responding to the uncertain future of Parent Link Centres.

In the provincial budget passed in October, the Kenney government intends to cancel grants and contracts with organizations that operate Parent Link Centres and roll out a new service delivery model early next year.

The decision will affect the Cold Lake Parent Link Centre, operated by the Cold Lake and District FCSS, and the Bonnyville and District FCSS.

Last Thursday, the government opened up expressions of interest so that organizations can bid on managing and providing children’s services under a new model that will be implemented after March 31, 2020.

Cold Lake and District FCSS is working to understand the new service delivery model to see if it will enter a bid under the program, the city said in a press release.

“There are a lot of unknowns at the moment – including whether we ultimately want to submit a bid,” Mayor Copeland said.

“We still need to learn exactly what the government’s new vision will look like to see if we can deliver the services they are looking for. With about 23 per cent of our population 14 and under, services for youth and children are very important to our community and we will support Cold Lake and District FCSS in its effort to understand the government’s new service delivery model and any changes it may bring.”

That sentiment was echoed by the board chair of the Bonnyville and District FCSS Lorna Storoschuk.

“While there are many unknowns at the moment, the clear intention is for support services to continue,” she said in a written letter to parents on Thursday.

“In the meantime, we will continue to provide services until the end of the contract in March.”

The Cold Lake Parent Link Centre had over 22,500 visits throughout 2018 and hosted programming geared towards providing families with a caring, safe place to play and learn together.

It was funded through provincial Children’s Services grants that will not be renewed in their current form past March 31, 2020.

The City of Cold Lake also provides additional funding to Cold Lake and District FCSS to maintain extended hours at the Parent Link Centre.

Children’s Services will be rolling out its new model to deliver services after its expression of interest process is complete.

The full extent of any effect the new model may have on the current programming is being monitored by the City of Cold Lake’s administration.

“We have a tremendous amount of respect for the work that our FCSS and Parent Link Centres do,” Mayor Craig Copeland said.

“Our community values these services and we will look at all opportunities available, understanding that the Government of Alberta may have new priorities for programs and services for children, youth and family.”