Many Rivers cancels parent child groups

Long-running programs aimed at new parents and children have been dropped by Many Rivers Counselling and Support Services. 

Long-running programs aimed at new parents and children have been dropped by Many Rivers Counselling and Support Services.

The non-profit organization insists it just can’t afford to offer them anymore.

The Yukon government has already stepped in to save one program. The fate of the others is still up in the air.

The three free groups – Mothering your Baby… the First Year, Parent-Child Mother Goose, and Nobody’s Perfect – all deal with issues after a baby is born. They stopped running in June.

Paying for them was never part of the organization’s funding agreement with the Yukon government, said Many Rivers executive director Brent Ramsay. That meant they never had guaranteed core funding.

“We just simply carried the program as long as we could. But there really wasn’t sufficient funding for it, there never was.”

Nobody’s Perfect has been running since 1994. It helps parents with children up to five years old deal with stress and learn about their child.

Both the Parent-Child Mother Goose group and the Mothering your Baby… the First Year are play-style programs where parents get a chance to bond with baby through games and songs.

Those programs have been running since 1999 and 2004, respectively.

They were all managed by a single staff member who has since been let go by Many Rivers.

Ramsay has only been at the helm of the organization for about a year. Questions about how the programs were kept afloat before then should be answered by “previous management,” he said.

Leah Ryckman, Many Rivers’ manager of programs, is also new to the organization. She explained that unlike other programs being offered there, the family education groups depended on grants from other organizations to function.

“The past practice was that there was almost an expectation for the family education to almost function in isolation, to seek their own funding to stay afloat,” she said.

“That’s not fair to any one staff member, that’s not how we want to operate as a team.”

As for whether or not a particular source of funding fell through recently, again, Ramsay deferred to previous management.

“What we know is that this year we did an analysis and found out that we don’t have the funds for it,” he said.

“I can’t speak for previous folks, whatever their analysis was in the past, but for us, we knew it just wasn’t achievable within the funds.”

Ramsay estimates Many Rivers was about $40,000 short.

“It’s great to be able to get some grants, but there’s just not enough there to be able to cover it,” he said.

The financial analysis was done after the organization had already signed a new funding agreement with the Yukon government. It came into effect in April 2014, he said.

That money – slightly less than $2 million a year – is locked in for the next three years and does not cover the programs in question. The money is specific to general counselling, the outreach van and youth outreach, the department said.

Many Rivers will continue to offer post-partum counselling, Ramsay said. Just not the group programs.

He said Many Rivers recognizes the value of these programs and hopes someone else will choose to step in.

Marcelle Dube, a spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Services, said her department will be continuing the mothering in the first year program out of the Whitehorse Health Centre.

That’s the same location where it used to run, facilitated by the Many Rivers staff member and a local nurse.

Specific details of how that program will be funded, when it will start up, and who will be facilitating it, were not available in time for this story.

The Mother Goose program is offered at the Heart of Riverdale community centre. That program is still up and running.

That leaves the Nobody’s Perfect program.

“There are several, I would dare say dozens, of trained facilitators throughout the territory that have the capacity to deliver that programming. It could be a First Nation, it could be a daycare, it could be an agency,” Ryckman said.

But the loss of the Many Rivers programs has some local parents worried.

“For me it was such a comfort to actually be around other moms that could relate to similar issues and struggles,” said Joanne Heyes, who was part of the last mothering in the first year group which was made up of six two-hour group sessions.

“Whether that’s sleep deprivation, or struggling feeling like you were doing an OK job, or how to cope. Just that sense of community and connection.”

Heyes said the group was capped at 15 and there was a wait list.

“That’s really common. There’s always huge wait list for these groups,” said Jo Lukawitski, who took the Mother Goose program with her son Oliver in 2010.

Lukawitski works as a doula and said she would often refer women to the Many Rivers groups.

“It can be a really isolating time right after having a baby,” she said. “There’s long nights, massive sleep disruption, your world is turned upside down… just trying to get a shower can be a challenge.”

Programs like these are key when caring for a new child seems all-consuming, the parents say.

Getting supports from the professional facilitator who ran the programs is important when it comes to spotting things like post-partum depression, Lukawitski said.

“Often the mothers that are experiencing it, they can’t actually tell that’s what’s happening with them. They think, ‘Oh, I’m just tired,’ things like that.”

Heyes said she was worried that the programs were just going to disappear and not be noticed.

“I don’t feel like people understand how valuable these are, and if they did, they wouldn’t be cut.”

A petition has been started on the website Change.org calling for the programs to be restored.

“We just see a glaring gap, a hole in the community. These services were essential to people so if somebody could pick it up, that would be great,” Lukawitski said.

The petition had received 64 signatures as of this morning.

Contact Ashley Joannou at

ashleyj@yukon-news.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Many Rivers Counselling and Support Services building in Whitehorse on March 28, 2019. Three people who sat on Many Rivers’ board immediately before it closed for good say they were relieved to hear that the Yukon RCMP has undertaken a forensic audit into the now-defunct NGO’s financial affairs. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Former Many Rivers board members relieved to hear about forensic audit, wonder what took so long

Three people who sat on Many Rivers’ board immediately before it closed… Continue reading

Whitehorse General Hospital in Whitehorse on Feb. 14, 2019. The Yukon Employees’ Union and Yukon Hospital Corporation are at odds over whether there’s a critical staffing shortage at the territory’s hospitals. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
YEU, Yukon Hospital Corp. at odds over whether hospitals are understaffed

YEU says four nurses quit within 12 hours last week, a claim the YHC says is “inaccurate”

Two former Whitehorse Correctional Centre inmates, Ray Hartling and Mark Lange, have filed a class action against the jail, corrections officials and Yukon government on behalf of everyone who’s been placed in two restrictive units over the past six years. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Class action filed against Whitehorse Correctional Centre over use of segregation

Two former Whitehorse Correctional Centre inmates have filed a class action against… Continue reading

asdf
WYATT’S WORLD

Wyatt’s World for Oct. 21, 2020

Movie poster for <em>Ìfé,</em> a movie being shown during OUT North Film Festival, which includes approximately 20 different films accessible online this year. (Submitted)
OUT North Film Festival moves to virtual format

In its ninth year, the artistic director said this year has a more diverse set of short and feature films

Triple J’s Canna Space in Whitehorse on April 17, 2019, opens their first container of product. Two years after Canada legalized the sale of cannabis, Yukon leads the country in per capita legal sales. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Yukon leads Canadian cannabis sales two years after legalization

Private retailers still asking for changes that would allow online sales

A sign greets guests near the entrance of the Canada Games Centre in Whitehorse on June 11. The city announced Oct. 16 it was moving into the next part of its phased reopening plan with spectator seating areas open at a reduced capacity to allow for physical distancing. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
CGC reopening continues

Limited spectator seating now available

During Whitehorse city council’s Oct. 19 meeting, planning manager Mélodie Simard brought forward a recommendation that a proposed Official Community Plan amendment move forward that would designate a 56.3 hectare piece of land in Whistle Bend, currently designated as green space, as urban residential use. (Courtesy City of Whitehorse)
More development in Whistle Bend contemplated

OCP change would be the first of several steps to develop future area

asdf
EDITORIAL: Don’t let the City of Whitehorse distract you

A little over two weeks after Whitehorse city council voted to give… Continue reading

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Northwestel has released the proposed prices for its unlimited plans. Unlimited internet in Whitehorse and Carcross could cost users between $160.95 and $249.95 per month depending on their choice of package. (Yukon News file)
Unlimited internet options outlined

Will require CRTC approval before Northwestel makes them available

Legislative assembly on the last day of the fall sitting in Whitehorse. Yukon’s territorial government will sit for 45 days this sitting instead of 30 days to make up for lost time caused by COVID-19 in the spring. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Legislative assembly sitting extended

Yukon’s territorial government will sit for 45 days this sitting. The extension… Continue reading

asdf
Today’s mailbox: Mad about MAD

Letters to the editor published Oct. 16, 2020

Most Read