Innovative parenting project supports Alberta’s plan for vulnerable families

By on May 24, 2014


More progress is being made on Alberta’s plan to improve the lives of vulnerable children and families through a new initiative aimed at improving interactions and early relationships between parents and their newborns.

Minister Manmeet S. Bhullar with parents
Minister Manmeet S. Bhullar with parents

The Welcome to Parenting initiative will provide a “baby basket” to vulnerable parents that will include parenting information, children’s books, toys, blankets and other items that support positive early childhood development. The goal is to help parents understand the value of bonding with their infant and intentional interactions such as reading to their babies.

“Our priority is to ensure that every child in Alberta starts off life on a firm footing. Some parents don’t have natural supports, like close relationships with extended family, to help them navigate pregnancy and the first few months of parenting. This project will ensure that these parents have access to quality early childhood supports so they can provide their children the security they need to grow and thrive.”

Manmeet S. Bhullar, Minister of Alberta Human Services
The initiative is a unique two-year project designed to support at-risk newborns and their parents, who have been identified as needing extra help, in Edmonton, Calgary, Grande Prairie and Coaldale. These communities were chosen due to high birth rates and their community readiness, which includes parents’ ability to access programs and services through Parent Link Centres.

The project will be done through a partnership between the government and the University of Calgary. The university will engage agencies, such as the Calgary Urban Project Society to connect vulnerable parents and parents-to-be with trained parent coaches and volunteer mentors to help them learn positive parenting skills and manage stress.

Parents who already access resources through partnering agencies will have the option to participate.

“Improving parent’s knowledge and skills about good parenting is a very important investment to children now and in their health and ability to contribute as future citizens of Alberta”

Dr. James Talbot – Chief Medical Officer of Health
The first six years of a child’s life are critical, laying the foundation for future health and success. Through a cross-ministry approach, Human Services, Health and Education aims to ensure that those first six years provide the right start for every child in Alberta.

Over the next two years, this project will be evaluated; with the goal of expanding the initiative to support more vulnerable parents. The Alberta government has provided a $500,000 grant to support this innovative two-year project.

“Our communities are stronger when we ensure that all families receive support when they bring home a new baby. Welcome to Parenting will provide supports so that all families have what they need to ensure Alberta children grow up healthy and strong.”

Karen Benzies, Associate Professor at the Faculty of Nursing – University of Calgary and project lead
This initiative supports Alberta’s five-point plan, announced in January, to take action to support vulnerable families, improve the child intervention system and keep children healthy and safe.

Under the Building Alberta Plan, our government is investing in families and communities, living within our means, and opening new markets for Alberta’s resources to ensure we’re able to fund the services Albertans told us matter most to them. We will continue to deliver the responsible change Albertans voted for.