Wednesday, 21 November 2012 16:27

Early childhood program looking ahead to new challenges

Written by  Matthew Liebenberg
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The Swift Current and District Early Childhood Intervention Program (ECIP) wants to make more families across southwest Saskatchewan aware of the support services available through this home visitation program.


The program, which has been serving the region out of Swift Current since 1981, appointed a new executive director Sept. 17 and just launched an initiative to raise the organization’s profile.
Wayne Cormier, appointed as the new executive director of the ECIP, hopes to grow the program.
“This is a unique time,” he said. “We just started our marketing and rebranding of the program. I have new ideas, I bring a different set of eyes and so it will be a time of growth.”
The Swift Current and District ECIP is part of a province-wide network of community based programs to enhance child development in children six years and younger. There are 12 other ECIPs located in communities around the province.
“This is a strength-based, family-centred program where we provide our services primarily in-home,” Cormier explained. “They may have some concerns around developmental delays or at risk for delay. So they’re asking us as professionals to come in and assess the issue or issues and then develop a program with them to help enhance the developmental growth of that child.”
Each ECIP is a charitable, non-profit organization that receives funding from the Saskatchewan government through the Ministry of Education. Cormier said the local program is a member agency of the Swift Current United Way.
“We are a non-government organization, so we do have the need from time to time for donations and internal fundraising,” he added.
At the moment the Swift Current based program provides support to between 25 and 28 families. It has the funding capacity to provide services to 40 families. The families benefitting at any given time from the program tend to vary throughout the year.
Their office, which is located at 1705 Chaplin Street East, includes a parent resource library and a toy lending library with more than 3,000 toys. While families might visit the office to borrow items from the library, the assessments are done at their homes.
“We are the most intensive in-home support program in the province,” he said. “It makes it more effective because we’re seeing the child and the family in their normal living situation as opposed to them coming to the office.
“When we’re there, we monitor the progress, we suggest options to enhance what they’re doing and to further move the child along.”
While program staff provide each child with five hours of in-home support every month, there are still another potential 155 waking hours available each month for programming. Cormier said it is important for families to realize the program is parent-driven.
After being in existence for 31 years as part of a provincial program, the Swift Current and District ECIP has a strong mandate, but Cormier said there is still work ahead.
“It’s a respected program and I believe it’s very much valued in the area, but it’s time to move that bar up higher and it’s time to move the program further into the communities,” he noted.
At the moment the program's case load is largely in Swift Current or areas near the city. The aim of their new marketing initiative is therefore to make families in communities around southwest Saskatchewan more aware of the program.
“We’re not getting the word out,” he said. “We’re not getting the program to the smaller communities and so part of my direction and my vision is that we take the program on the road.”
Over the next few months until the end of March, Cormier and his staff will visit communities in the region to talk about the program and to develop local connections with families.
Cormier and staff members Stacey Coch and Melissa McBlain hosted a family networking event at the Lt.-Col. Clifton Centre in Swift Current Nov. 15 with a variety of games and a pizza party.
“What we’re finding is we have a lot of new families that have children that age,” he said. “They’re not connected yet, they don’t have a social network. ... This type of family networking event is an opportunity for those families to not live in isolation.”
Cormier brings a lot of experience to his position as executive director. He has a 30-year career working with children and families in various organizations, including 23 years with Social Services.
In 2008, he left the government service to return with his wife and their two children to her home town, Swift Current. He considers Moose Jaw to be his hometown and so is happy to be back in southwest Saskatchewan.
During the past four years he has done private counselling, mediation, family mediation and conflict resolution. He also worked as the office manager of Partners in Employment.
“I know a lot of people here and it’s really helping me to move this program forward because I have a lot of connections with other agencies and government departments,” he said.
For more information about the Swift Current and District ECIP, call 306-773-3600 or go to their website at http://swiftcurrentcip.weebly.com.

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