Hinton continues Parent Link services

Masha Scheele

The Town of Hinton announced that it is preparing a proposal to continue funding its services to support early childhood and family development through the new Family Resource Network (FRN) Expression of Interest (EOI) process.

Services in Hinton won’t be immediately affected but the new process calls for all Parent Link centres and other support services in Alberta to apply to continue receiving funding after March 31.

Between $500,000 to $749,999 of funding will be available for family resource services in Hinton’s proposed network area, which includes Hinton, Jasper, Grande Cache, Edson, and Yellowhead County, stated Hinton’s strategic services manager, Emily Olsen.

Before the new EOI, services by the Town of Hinton alone received approximately $195,000 from grants and contracts each year, added Olsen.

The EOI process was released on Nov. 7 and states funding is based on each region’s geographic area.

Currently, the provincial government spends about $77.5 million annually on all Children’s Services Prevention and Early Intervention contracts and grants, while funding allotted in the new provincial budget to these services is $65 million, stated Lauren Armstrong, spokesperson for Alberta’s Minister of Children’s Services.

For organizations to be considered for funding, they must apply before the Jan. 16 deadline, states the EOI.

New grant funding will roll out on April 1 following an EOI evaluation and service & program development and negotiation by the province in February and March.

The decision to create a new process was made based on Children’s Services adoption of the Well-Being and Resiliency Framework, which strives to provide a consistent province-wide approach offering universal, targeted, and intensive services, stated Olsen.

She added that the adoption of this framework resulted in Children’s Services redesigning its approach to service delivery and eliminating current grants and agreements for approximately 450 grants and contracts across the province.

Services affected by the new process include Parent Link Centres, mentorship initiatives, community resource centres, early childhood coalitions, community-based parent and family support, outreach services, and home visitation programs.

The Town of Hinton received notice on Nov. 4 that funding in its current state for Parent Link and the Growing Great Kids coalition will end on March 31 from Alberta’s Children’s Services.

This does not mean that Parent Link Centres, Family Resource Centres, or home visitation services are cut within the province, according to Armstrong.

“While I can’t pre-suppose the results of the EOI process, many existing service providers are likely to be successful and continue to deliver services as they do now. However, it is fair to expect that there will be some change in communities across Alberta,” she stated in an email to the Voice on Nov. 6.

As a way to consolidate and realign prevention and early intervention services, this process will focus services where they have the greatest impact, reduce duplicative programming, streamlining services, and reducing unnecessary spending.

West Yellowhead MLA Martin Long, stated “Our government was elected to make sure that taxpayer dollars are being spent efficiently and to get our economy back on track. I truly believe that introducing new Family Resource Networks is the best way  to help children and families. This approach is supported by research on prevention and early intervention services and I look forward to the results of the Expression of Interest process.”

It is still unknown how funding will be allocated exactly until after the EOI process. 

EOI submissions will be assessed and funds will be targeted accordingly and effectively to build a better network to support at risk families, stated Armstrong.

Service-provider applicants are asked by the province to propose ways to partner with other agencies to ensure consistent and targeted supports across the province.

Olsen added that the EOI outlined a new model for service delivery, called the “Hub-and-Spokes” model. 

“The “hub” is a physical centre and anchor organization that arranges direct and partnered service delivery; the “spokes” are the network of services, supports, and programming that offer child development and well-being support, caregiver capacity building support, and social connections and supports,” she stated in an email.

Olsen concluded that Hinton is committed to continuous high-quality, responsive, and meaningful services and the elimination of the contracts don’t have an immediate effect on the services provided in Hinton.

The town will work with other community and regional agencies to prepare a strong proposal. Any questions about the changes can be directed to Jenna Altrogge, Hinton FCSS Assistant Manager, at 780-865-6073 or jaltrogge@hinton.ca.