Blackfalds fights to keep Parent Link going after provincial cuts

BLACKFALDS – Blackfalds council unanimously voted Nov. 26 to seek alternative funding to keep its Parent Link Centre open until the end of March and inject up to $21,000 into the program. 

The province is ending all 126 Parent Link contracts for funding of the Community Capacity Building Initiatives by March 31, 2020, while it seeks a new funding framework. This means programs would be drastically decreased from January to March in anticipation of the end of funding. 

But to ensure Parent Link continues in Blackfalds from January to March the town is pursuing funding from the Family Resource Network and the Community Capacity Building Initiatives. And the town said they will bridge the funding up to $21,000 for those three months to ensure Blackfalds families with young children are still supported.

Our council has followed the success story that is Blackfalds Parent Link,” said Mayor Richard Poole on Friday. 

“We have witnessed firsthand how it touches lives and provides training, support and encouragement for families. To stop its operation during the months following Christmas, when many families feel challenged, would be a mistake that our council feels cannot be made.”

Currently, Blackfalds Parent Link Centre is operated by the Central Parkland Parent Link Network, facilitated through Lacombe and District Family and Community Support Services (FCSS). This Network also operates Parent Link Centre’s in the neighbouring communities of Wetaskiwin, Ponoka, Rimbey and Lacombe, with outreach programming in Clive, Mirror and Bentley.

“We look forward to working with our MLA and our minister to find ways to recover this expenditure, but in the meantime fully support its continuation until the new funding model is developed – which we hope will also include funding for the Community Capacity Building Initiative.”

This contract supports a staff position in the Community Services Department to facilitate donations to support subsidized programs which includes the Christmas Bureau, Tools for Schools, Winter Coats for Kids, the Leisure Access Pass, Bridging Diversity (a monthly gathering for new Canadians and Blackfalds residents), the Food Bank Society; as well as ensuring vulnerable children and families in the community are supported.

The programming schedule for the first three months of 2020 will be released on both the Blackfalds Parent Link Centre and the Town of Blackfalds Facebook pages once it has been finalized on December 16.