By Justin Seward
The Bridges Family Programs newer Hub initiative offers many family supports for the local area.
The Hub is a part of the Family Resource Network through Children’s Services.
The FRN supports expecting parents, families, caregivers and communities to support the safety and resiliency of infants, children and youth within nurturing and supportive environments.
“ (Just) to work on protective factors for families and preventative measures for family’s that are in need,” said Ashleigh Spaan, rural hub navigator, on the program’s focus.
“All services are free and confidential for children from (new born) to 18.”
It was under the FRN earlier this year, the program saw their contract expanded with three-years of funding to cover Cypress County, Medicine Hat, Oyen and surrounding area.
Redcliff fell under the local area regional umbrella as the newest drop-in location on Tuesdays from 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. at Town Hall.
“(It is) just a way to connect with them and a lot of people can’t get to Medicine Hat. So for people that don’t’ have a vehicle or maybe can’t make their homes or can’t drive. It’s an easier way to access families,” said Spaan.
“My role as a navigator is I’m kind of like a walk-in clinic and for as needed support. People can come in, see me, receive some information, counseling or how to apply for adult health benefit. I can help with that and put in referrals to our programming,”
Spaan can go to someone in the county to assist with supports if needed.
“We’re starting out with this right now, so we’re still kind of waiting to see how it all goes,” said Spaan.
The program may be planning to expand to a drop-in location in Cypress County, depending on the higher needs, Spaan added.
Some trends that have been common include mental health and video game addictions.
COVID-19 provided challenges for the program.
“It’s a struggle, especially when there’s no school,” said Spaan.
“We’ve (had) a lot of online communication. We can do Google Meets, connect through Zoom, phone calls and more or less that’s just technology, just what we can use to contact families. I think people are kind of getting tired of having to communicate over technology.”
Bridges also offers parent education classes to strengthen parenting skills. One of the classes teaches fathers how to be more nurturing and there are programs available for grandparents who are in a parental role.
In-home support programs are also available to develop healthy relationships by increasing communication and learning coping strategies.
In-home family supports also resumed for parenting, household routines, community connections, parent and teen mediation and education on child and youth development.
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder assessments can also be set-up through a program.
If someone is interested in their services, they contact Spaan at (403) 928-7460 or the Bridges’ office at (403) 526-7473 or by email at email@example.com