Parent Link in the Crowsnest Pass is closing its doors after 14 years of serving families in the community.
In November 2019, the province announced framework changes that would disband Parent Link Centres around Alberta as of March 31, 2020. Following the change, individual centres were asked to submit a proposal to continue receiving funding.
According to the Government of Alberta website, Alberta’s network of 59 Parent Link Centres provides parents and caregivers with free resources and support, which vary from location to location.
“We’ve had lots of meetings with other agencies, trying to get them to take on some of the activities that Parent Link did, but of course they are all under the crunch of decreased funding as well,” said Jenny Wilmot, coordinator at Parent Link in Crowsnest Pass, after finding out their submission was denied.
According to Wilmot, their programs focus on activities relating to child development, and they have an average of 1,000 new and returning participants each month.
Wilmot said she is concerned about the impact the loss of their services in the community will have, and worries the provincial government may not take the lead in keeping those services up.
“I’m not convinced that they plan to do anything — that those services are just gone, and they don’t plan to actually have any services for families in this area.”
Other Parent Link Centres across the province are also in limbo, waiting to see if their proposals were approved. Wilmot said once their Blairmore location closes down, the nearest service is Fort Macleod — which is nearly an hour away.
In Lethbridge, Parent Link funding changes will have less of an impact.
Peter Imhof, executive director at Family Centre, said they may lose some programs as a result, but they will be staying open, and have other funding also in place.
“There is a hope that there is a more efficient, a more streamlined management and administration of those services,” Imhof said. “One of the key drivers is to be cost-effective.”
In response to the closure of the Crowsnest Pass location, Lauren Armstrong, press secretary for the Minister of Children’s Services, provided Global News with the following statement:
“Since the Expression of Interest closed in January, regional evaluation teams across Alberta have been reviewing and evaluating almost 400 proposal submissions totalling more than $240 million. Proposals were evaluated using fair, consistent criteria and funding will be awarded to service providers who are able to offer the best service to at-risk kids and families. Under the new Family Resource Network structure, we are committed to providing services in all areas of the province. As negotiations are ongoing, we cannot yet provide details on who will do so in this area.”
A family appreciation event is scheduled to be held at Crowsnest Pass Parent Link on March 16.