As a co-ordinator in a non-profit organization (and as a new mom), I have learned quickly how to recognize when something is working. Regardless if the results come from proven research findings, evaluation, or just a gut feeling, when a program is working, you stick with it.
This is why I am shocked by the recent cuts to family education programs at Many Rivers.
Many Rivers has stopped offering Mothering your Baby…the First Year, Parent Child Mother Goose, Nobody’s Perfect Parenting Program, and Life After Birth. Despite the fact they had reliable (if not core) funding, successful partnerships, constant demand, and a wait list of parents eager to join, they abruptly cut the programs.
Although they attribute this to family education not fitting their mandate, their vision, as outlined in the most recent annual report, repeatedly mentions healthy families, communities, and relationships. Family education addresses all three.
Although it is hopeful to hear that one program may be picked up by another agency, Whitehorse parents are still waiting to hear where they will find the same level of support that was provided by the full array of family education and the expertise of the family education co-ordinator.
Countless research studies would point to the value of investing in early childhood experiences for any family. In fact, the Yukon government’s own project, Pathways to Wellness, emphasizes the importance of education and skill-building in the first three years, providing support for mothers and families, and creating relationships and networks.
In fact, it would make financial sense for the government to offer these programs to all Yukon parents. According to the website yukonwellness.ca, “We are happier and healthier when we are connected, and we live longer too. In fact, loneliness and social isolation can be as harmful to your health as smoking and more harmful than inactivity or obesity.”
Many Rivers had been running successful programs for the past 20 years that provided this connection – and countless other benefits – to new parents. Without a network of support, many new parents, especially moms, will struggle with the challenges of parenting.
Let’s call on Many Rivers to reinstate family education programs.