Free parenting program to launch in P.A.

By Glenn Hicks
July 3, 2018 - 8:32am Updated: July 3, 2018 - 10:41am

A free program aimed at helping parents or caregivers become better at working through issues with their children will start in Prince Albert in the fall. Organizers say it will benefit families and ultimately the community.

Run by Catholic Family Services, the Strengthening Families Program will offer 14-week courses consisting of one, 3-hour session per week.

“Effective parenting is essentially prevention,” program coordinator Tara Switenky told paNOW. “It reduces risk factors, it builds protective factors and it strengthens and creates resilient families. Children change and so do our parenting skills so we have to adapt and evolve as our kids grow.”

Switenky said the program will give families time to develop and practice skills, bond and learn from each other, and ensure complete access to any parent or caregiver regardless of faith. The offer of a free meal, transport and babysitting is also expected to encourage parents to attend.

“If you’re interested in improving your parenting skills and family relationships this program can help, “Switenky said. “Whether that’s a lack of communication or if there are some behaviours that are starting to pop up, we can address that.”

The program is earmarked to run for five years with three separate intakes each year out of different community schools. The first 14-week course starts in September for parents of teenage children while the following intake will be for January’s course, dedicated for families with children aged 6 to 11 years old. Each group includes peers, elders and teachers, and those who register must attend the sessions with their child.

Assistant program coordinator Anna Dinsdale told paNOW the program is ideal for parents or caregivers wanting to build on their existing skills, but it also for families impacted by health and social inequalities.

“They may be struggling with alcohol addiction or attendance at school, for example,” she said. “Building healthy families does mean building healthy communities and I think it’s very exciting for Prince Albert and something the city will benefit from.”

The professional team being assembled for the program will also feature six to ten facilitators as well as a family life counsellor, according to the executive director of Catholic Family Services Louise Zurowski.

“If people attending this program have issues that come forward there will be people there who can support them.”

The funding partners for the program are expected to be announced at a later date.

More details on the program can be found here.


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