BY MARK WEBER
There are all kinds of ways to enrich your family life via the services offered at the Lacombe Parent Link Centre office.
The organization will be heading into its 12th year this fall.
From the moment one walks into the bright, spacious and colourful Centre located on the second floor of the Lacombe Memorial Centre, there is no doubt this is a space dedicated to the well-being, education and support of families.
“We have five core pillars that every Parent Link wants to follow – the things that we build our programs around,” said program staff member Carolyn McLaren.
These include teaching parents about child development and care and screening programs which help determine where a child might be developmentally as well.
According to the web site, questionnaires are available both online or at the Centre for parents to use to give them a ‘snapshot’ of their child’s development. “This is a simple questionnaire the parent fills out at home. It is based on the age of the child and asks specific questions based on the child’s development in the following areas – communication, gross motor skills, fine motor skills, problem-solving and personal social aspects.
“Once parents complete the questionnaire, they can return it to the Centres and it will be reviewed by a staff person.
“Parents will also receive a list of appropriate activities they may enjoy doing with their child to continue to promote development. If there are any developmental concerns in any of the five areas an appropriate referral can be made for further assessment.
“We can give them some tasks, but they can also go to a health unit, to their doctor and from there they can maybe investigate,” said McLaren, adding that from there, references can be made to other sources of help and support.
Stephanie Kenly, another of the program staff members at the Centre, agreed. “We can help facilitate connections to the resources in the community,” she said.
The women also said there at times continues to be a lack of awareness about everything that Parent Link provides.
“I still meet people all the time who say, ‘I’ve never heard of it – what is it?’,” said McLaren.
To that end, staff works hard on spreading the word via social media and more conventional means and they also rely on word of mouth. “If a family comes and sees us, they may end up talking to another family about ‘Triple P Parenting’ and say to them, ‘Do you know there are programs here in town that don’t cost any money?
“The only thing they have to do for us is give us a nice, big smile.”
Parent Link also offers opportunities to play and learn together with other families. Participants can experience arts and crafts, stories, music and song, imaginative play and active games as well.
Another key aspect to Parent Link are the many opportunities to join with other parents to discuss common experiences of parenting an infant or toddler.
They offer a variety of parent education/support opportunities including ‘Triple P Parenting’.
According to their web site, the ‘Triple P Parenting program’ gives parents positive strategies to use in guiding young children, building on a loving parent-child relationship.
Parents can also choose from a menu of parenting support choices including public seminars, group discussions or one-on-one consultations.
“If a parent has a problem – they want to talk about temper tantrums for example – they can come and talk to us and we can give them some resources and tools and talk to them,” McLaren said. “We also have seminars where they can come for three classes, and it gives an overview about what is Triple P. So there again they get some tools.
“We also do the group setting – people come for five classes and we go more into the ‘meat’ of the tools.”
Topics of discussion can run the gamut from issues like the aforementioned temper tantrums to problems with listening. “We can do a whole class on just that topic. We can talk about what exactly is happening, and what can parents do. They always leave with some type of material that they can take with them like a little booklet or a tip sheet.
<p style="margin-top: 0px; margin-bottom: 0.5em; color: #000000; font-family: Georgia, Times, serif, 'Lucida Grande', Tahoma, Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 16px; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; letter-spacing: normal; line-height: normal; orphans: auto; t