A Parent Link Centre (PLC) slated to open in Sylvan Lake next fall will be stationed in the Community Centre, provincial Minister of Human Services Heather Klimchuk announced at the Community Centre last Thursday.
Eckville and Benalto will be served by the Sylvan Lake’s centre. Sylvan Lake will be one of 53 municipalities in Alberta to host one.
A total of $1.05 million has been provincially budgeted to support the operations new centres to be received by Sylvan Lake, Edmonton City Centre and Innisfail. Of that amount, Sylvan Lake will receive $350,000.
The centre will foster an environment where parents can connect with one another to share their stories, and provide them access to helpful services, Klimchuk said.
She explained that the early years of a child’s life are crucial in laying a foundation for preventing vulnerability later on in life. The centre, she said, will provide resources to parents to aid them in helping their small children develop.
“Some parents might be isolated from a support system or have family too far away to help,” Klimchuk said. “They may not know what to do or who to turn to.”
She said the centre will provide programs and services that are closer to families and the communities they thrive in. Parents and caregivers will also have the opportunity to access additional support and participate in a variety of activities, as Klimchuk said parenting is about community resources and reaching developmental milestones.
“It’s connecting parents, which is really important, and of course all the other activities that can help you become a better parent and help your children learn to socialize,” Klimchuk said.
She said the centre will also provide support to families who are new in the community, as well as aid in early childhood education.
“If you’re new in a community and you don’t have the supports that you need, these centres are absolutely critical,” Klimchuk said. “I profoundly believe that getting these kids ready is so important. In Alberta about 29 per cent of children in Kindergarten aren’t quite ready, so we need to work on that. That’s why I am so committed to these Parent Link Centres.”
Sylvan Lake mayor Sean McIntyre attended the announcement and said he couldn’t be happier with the new centre opening and providing the community with essential programs and resources. He said the average age of the town’s population is under 32 years old, and the town is growing at a rate of 4.5 per cent per year, which means the town’s young population is expanding.
“We’re growing with a ton of young families, and the Parent Link Centre in that regard means a lot for our region,” McIntyre said. “It means we’re helping to equip young families and children with the tools that they need to be successful, and that means a brighter and more hopeful community.”
Klimchuk said about 1,000 babies born every week in Alberta, and that the government knows the importance of supporting young families.
“Parents need support,” Klimchuk said. “We want to be there to support them so kids are ready for Kindergarten.”