Edmonton Journal: Children’s services cancelling hundreds of service contracts for parenting help to revamp network

Children’s Services Minister Rebecca Schulz in her office at the legislature on Sept. 25, 2019. SHAUGHN BUTTS / POSTMEDIA, FILE

The Alberta government is retooling how it funds and organizes programs that prevent children from being apprehended into government care.

Effective March 31, 2020, the children’s services ministry is cancelling about 450 grants and contracts with 300 organizations that run parent link centres, home visitation services, family resource centres and other prevention programs, Children’s Services Minister Rebecca Schulz said on Tuesday. The programs provide free support to parents and caregivers, such as parenting classes, early learning opportunities for tots and developmental screening.

But Schulz the system is a patchwork that offers different services in different places. There is a dearth of help available for families of children older than six years old, she said. Some of the grants or funds are being spent on newsletters, or paying system navigators to help families find the right services, she said.

“There may be changes within the system, but I can’t continue to do the same thing that we’ve always done because we’ve always done it that way,” Schulz said.

The government currently spends about $77 million annually on these prevention services, which she hopes to reduce to about $65 million with the changes.

On Thursday, the ministry will open up a call for “expressions of interest” for organizations to bid on offering the services for a three-year span as part of a new provincial network that takes effect April 1, 2020.

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