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Rimbey Parent link and Neighbourhood place face closure in the new year

Rimbey programs to close
Parent Alexis Pearn and Rimbey Parent Link co-ordinator Samantha Sansome talk about the government’s announcement that funding for Parent Link will discontinue and the facility will close. Treena Mielke Photo

The fact that Government of Alberta Service contracts between Children’s Services and local groups have been cancelled has already started to show the devastating effects in Rimbey as parents and staff come to terms with the eminent closure of Parent Link among other services.

As of Dec. 31 three parent link staff will be laid off. Manager Samantha Sansome will remain until March 31 when her contract ends.

Sansome said Parent Link will remain open until March 31, but minimal programs will be offered.

News of the closure came as a blow to Alexis Pearn who has found Parent Link to be a wonderful support for herself, her husband Kurtis Pillipow and their two children, four-year-old Ford and two-year-old Campbell.

Pearn suffered from post partum depression with her second child and found Parent Link was vital to providing the support she needed.

“We don’t have family here. When we moved here we really didn’t know anyone. Where do you go and how do you meet people when your kids aren’t in school yet? Parent Link has been a support to the whole family.”

Hooking up with Parent Link proved to be a blessing and a program dealing with maternal mental health which she now co-facilitates with Sansome has been most helpful.

As the young mom talks about the facility closing down, she chokes back the tears.

“They say it takes a village to raise a child and to me Parent Link is that village,” she said.

Sansome said Parent Link, which was open four days a week and one evening and one Saturday a month is a place where parents and children can connect.

At Parent Link, parenting courses, parenting support groups, development screening, a maternal mental health support group, and positive parenting programs are offered.

“We have trained, educated people in this field,” said Sansome. “And we have worked hard to create a relaxing, calming environment for everyone here.”

She noted that 200 to 250 people including caregivers and children have utilized Parent Link services in the last month.

Neighborhood Place Co-coordinator Leanne Evans has also received notification that this service will no longer be available in the same capacity that it is now.

“We will be able to continue on for a few months, but we don’t know what it will look like after March 31,” she said.

As of March 31 funding has also been cut for Early Childhood Development and the Healthy Families Program.

The provincial government has announced it will spend $57 to $64 million on Children’s Services with funding being allocated to communities within 53 to 64 identified regions. Funding will be dispersed depending o the size of the region. The latest announcement of funding for Children’s Services is down considerably from the $77 million previously allocated.

In 2020, Children’s Services will issue grants for Family Resource Network services through proposals received through a competitive process called expression of interest(EOI).

Participants are invited to submit proposals for funding following the specifications and terms set out in this EOI.

The Expression of Interest is being issued by Alberta’s ministry of Children’s Services, Family and Community Resiliency Division as a competitive process to identify qualified vendors and/or vendor teams hat are capable of providing of Family Resource network services throughout Alberta.

The process, designed through a hub-and-spoke network design approach, is designed to give children and youth aged 0-18 years and their families equitable access to services that support child safety, well-being and development.

The Anchor organization, the ‘Hub’ will facility the delivery of the services (the Spokes).

Evans said a group from Rimbey & Ponoka has come together and hopes to submit an expression of interest.

However, she notes that reality dictates that the services offered in the future will be somewhat different than what they are now.

“Even if we’re successful with this, it’s not going to look the same.”

However the group is working hard to come up with a plan that will be approved by the provincial government.

“It’s wonderful to be able to have the means to reach out to those in our small, rural community who need help. The possibility of losing these services is heartbreaking.”

“This is an opportunity for the Rimbey community to come together,” she said. “Stop in at Parent Link or Neighbourhood Place and show your support.”