The provincial government announced it would be creating early years family resource centres in seven Saskatchewan communities, including Prince Albert.
The resource centres were piloted in three communities: Yorkton, Regina and Sandy Bay. Education Minister Gord Wyant said the pilot project saw “tens of thousands” of people using the facilities.
“It’s really kind of a one-stop shop for families,” he said.
“Just as the name denotes, they’re resource centres for families to get access to a number of different services, providing in-house services and referrals to other services.”
Early Years Family Resource Centres provide information, services and support to help young families raise healthy children Expert advice can be made available on everything from connecting with children to stimulating child’s development. There could also be interactive activities for babies and toddlers and support groups where young parents can share their experiences with others and seek advice.
The province will be contributing $1.5 million to create the seven resource centres in The Battlefords, Meadow Lake, Moose Jaw, Nipawin, Prince Albert, Saskatoon and one in the north.
The funding is being provided by the Canada-Saskatchewan Early Learning and Child Care Agreement. The centres will be developed through community partnerships led by KidsFirst, who will be responsible for finding physical space in each community, hiring staff and developing programming by Fall 2019.
“There is a real need in some of these communities for these kinds of resources,” Wyant said.
He added that Alberta, BC and Ontario have implemented successful resource centres for young families on a large scale, which adds to the evidence from Saskatchewan’s pilot program that the model is a success.
“There is a lot of research that shows potential savings in human services interventions by having these early interventions through the family support centre,” he said. “We’re pretty excited about it.”
According to Wyant, in Revelstoke, B.C., childhood vulnerability went down from 25 per cent to 10 per cent with an early childhood instrument.
“That demonstrates the success these centres can have,” he said.
The province is also constantly in discussions with school divisions to make sure the early learning centres because ay work done before kids get into the school system can help those children be successful.
“We know the importance of ensuring families have high-quality supports and resources available to help them raise their children,” Saskatchewan Rivers Public School Division Superintendent of Schools Cory Trann said in a press release.
“This centre will provide families in our community with access to a welcoming environment where they can play and learn. We have seen where Family Resource Centres in other communities play an important role for families, and we are excited to be able to bring those resources here.”