I am extremely concerned about the provincial budget cuts that are being made to our social safety net. I am especially concerned that Parentlink’s early-years interventions and supports are being scrapped in favour of an amalgamated program that focuses on 0-18 year olds.
Five weeks after the birth of my daughter, I found myself at the Banff Parentlink drop-in program, arriving 15 minutes before it ended and unable to control my tears as the staff lead the group in a round of “The Itsy Bitsy Spider.”
I had gone on the recommendation of a friend. I was isolated in Banff, knowing no other new moms, my husband had returned to work, and I was struggling mightily with the strain of taking care of this tiny new human.
The staff saw my distress and were lifesavers. They recognized that something was not right – what five-week postpartum mother schlepps herself and baby out to Parentlink?
They took half an hour of their own time after everyone had left to talk to me and handed me the card of their on-site counsellor. It was their keen eyes and support that helped me to go to my doctor and get a diagnosis of postpartum depression just a few weeks later.
Parentlink has continued to be a vital support for me. It has offered valuable workshops to my husband and I that help us to provide the best care for our daughter. The programming has allowed me to meet other new moms in Banff and build connections to people and programs that combat isolation – a vital part of my recovery from postpartum depression.
I am very concerned that the new model touted by the provincial government as providing consistent service and preventing people from falling through the cracks will have precisely the opposite effect.
The staff at Parentlink specialize in early years development and interventions. Reducing their funding and mandating a focus on children up to the age of 18 means that there will be less programming and lost expertise.
People like me can and will fall through the cracks.
I shudder to think how bad things might have gotten had my situation not been identified early by the experienced Parentlink staff. I thought this was normal. I thought everyone felt like I did. They showed me differently. And for that, myself and many other parents owe them a huge debt of thanks.
As a province, we are only as strong as our most vulnerable members.