East central Alberta residents with expected and unexpected pregnancies now have a care centre located in Stettler, offering various supports.
The Central Alberta Pregnancy Care Centre opened doors to its latest location on May 1, celebrated with a grand-opening, joining offices in Red Deer, Old, Rocky Mountain House and Drumheller.
One of the most special aspects of the centre is that its almost entirely volunteer-driven, interim Stettler director Jenessa McAuley said in a recent interview with the Stettler Independent.
“We’re not a medical facility,” she said. “We always refer our clients to appropriate health care.”
The centre is able to provide pregnancy tests as they do not fall under a medical mandate, as well as provide referrals that connect clients with appropriate pre-natal medical care.
Services provided by the centre include support for unplanned pregnancies, adoption, post-abortion care and steps to sexual health.
Volunteers commit to a rigorous 10-week training course, followed by several months of orientations, and support clients through important decision making – sometimes ones that can be very tough and emotional, McAuley said.
Not to be forgotten about, the Central Alberta Pregnancy Centre also has a mentorship program for men – offered by male volunteers – as well as a 24/7 dads program.
“Dads process differently. The programs aren’t necessarily focused on parenting,” McAuley said, adding that sometimes the mentorship focuses on being a better spouse, or how to navigate co-parenting.
Thanks to modern technology, the centre is able to conduct virtual appointments between clients and volunteers as well.New centre connects parents with maternity home
For clients needing extra support once their baby arrives, expectant mothers will now have access to the organization’s maternity home in Red Deer.
Clients who meet the criteria can enter the program during the pre-natal stage and remain until their child is two or three years old.
While most programming by the centre is offered at no charge, clients living in the maternity home do pay a small amount to help with rent, utilities and food expenses.
The facility is staffed 24/7 by volunteers and members with various credentials and expertise, as well as social workers.
There are two phases to living in the home: communal living and individual private rooms.
McAuley noted that the maternity home is not emergency housing, but more a supportive environment for clients and their children.
While the organization receives some funding from government agencies, such as Family and and Community Support Services, most funding for the centres come from private donors.
Central Alberta Pregnancy Care Centres can be reached online at www.pregnancycare.ca or via their 24-hour helpline at 403-343-1619.
Editors note: The story has been changed to remove commentary around family planning included in error. Central Alberta Pregnancy Centres are a supportive organization but do not provide family planning services.