North Coast Community Services has been a pillar in the Prince Rupert community for more than 40 years. The non-profit organization offers supportive and educational programs to strengthen North Coast families who may be struggling in a variety of ways.
Families may just need a bit of additional encouragement, or may need assistance with household management, budgeting and parenting, Sherry Beal executive director of NCCS said, on Aug. 14.
Beal said there are several programs families can access and participate in to build skills and confidence.
The Family Support Program provides direct support to families who are having a difficult time and the Ministry of Children and Families is trying to assist them, Beal said.
NCCS offers assistance with parenting classes and supervised access to families whose children are in foster care.
“We supervise the visits, support the families to be able to communicate and if the parents are struggling we give them different ways to parent.”
Beal said the “Common Bowl” is another fantastic component of that program where a cultural model is incorporated with elders providing guidance and sharing meals. Clients learn new life-skills and how to involve the whole family when tasks need to be done Beal said.
Last year families learned made their own regalia, drums and learned to sing traditional songs. There was a celebration when the program was completed.
“The value of doing cultural activities and encompassing that in the program makes such a positive difference,” Beal said.
Parents can also access the Infant Development and Supportive Child Development Program if they have any concerns about the progress their little ones are making, such as in speech development. Parents can receive referrals to medical professionals and services. The therapist, family and NCCS consultant can all work together to assist in progressing a child’s development.
Beal said the supportive child development portion of the program supports families with children who have been diagnosed with a developmental delay. The NCCS staff support children to go into a child-care centre.
“In a lot of cases they need one-on-one support. A lot of day cares are already strapped for the amount of employees, so our ECE will go in actually and provide that one-on-one for the child,” Beal said. “It is pretty neat to be able to provide access to a child to be able to learn socialization and communication, what ever their abilities are because inclusion is so important.”
Children and parents can also drop into the Cradles and Moccasins program which is available for parents to have a coffee and interact with other parents while their children play, or for families who are having a hard time with finances.
“Instead of us referring them out and saying ‘you need to go here or to this organization’ we will actually invite representatives from those organizations to come to our centre. This is so the families are not being bounced around from place to place,” Beal said.
An infant development consultant is on hand in the Cradles to Moccasins large developmental play area to provide suggestions to parents on how to encourage their child to improve gross motor skills or to share creative ways to work together.
The Pregnancy Outreach program offers assistance to moms and their support person in areas like healthy eating, preparing for labour and breast feeding.
“We help with all those little segments that happen during a pregnancy because there are so many things and so many changes. Sometimes it’s just about stress relief,” Beal said. “With COVID it has become more stressful.”
Cooked meals are dropped off to participants as well as food hampers with recipes on how to cook the hamper ingredients. Beal said everything is free in the program and the Salvation Army has been supplying diapers and wipes to clients to assist them.
The Empowerment Program works with children and youth who have been diagnosed with special needs and a developmental delay or physical challenge. Sometimes children are non-communicative Beal said, so they will work with the child to find other ways to communicate. Staff teach the children social and life-skills.
“If there is a physical disability then we find a way to adjust the way services are being done and in some cases we can actually help the parents to adjust and enhance the way they are helping their child.”
Children and youth who experience violence, which includes bullying or stalking, can participate in the Peace Program. The counsellors facilitate psycho-educational work with the clients to help in a variety of areas like helping them to develop a safety plan or to understand the cycle of violence, Beal said.
“It could be about helping them develop their self esteem to make healthy choices. It is a very individualized program based on the clients needs. This program also goes into the schools and has group sessions.”
Beal said NCSS also run community based victims services which provides emotional support and information such as court process for survivors of power-based crimes. Power-based crimes can be sexual assault, domestic violence or stalking. The worker can liaise between the RCMP and the family to make sure there is well rounded support.
The Empowerment Program and the Peace Program have the longest waiting lists creating more need than case capacity allows to be provided, Beal said.
Funding is important to run the programs as NCSS is non-profit and there is a high demand for service in the community. NCCS funding comes from the Ministry of Children and Family Development, Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General, and Northern Health Authority, Beal said.
K-J Millar | Journalist
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