When I went to this organization, which is comfortably accommodated in a former school, now a municipal building in Beaupré, Natacha Battisti, the director, was in a meeting with a dozen other people from the community, governmental and para-governmental sectors to prepare a profile of social exclusion in the community. After excusing herself from the group, she accompanied me to the main floor, where the drop-in daycare centre is located, an activity funded partly by the FDG and often the gateway to all the resources available within the organization.
For the meeting, we were joined by Dominique Gagnon, the head of the drop-in daycare centre and an educator with over 18 years of presence there. By late afternoon, a number of children had already left the resource, and another educator was on site to engage the ones remaining.
From Tuesday to Friday, Ressources Familiales Côte-de-Beaupré offers six (6) half-day blocks per week to parents. For those who are involved in the activities, the drop-in is free when they are registered for any component of the programming. The Ministry of Families agrees to fund the drop-in daycare centre at a percentage based on attendance, for parents who are out of the labour market and not in school. Parents using the resource who do not meet these conditions pay a higher rate.
For the drop-in daycare centre’s educators, unlike those who work at early childhood centres, there are many tasks to be done: cleaning, groceries, planning the schedules and activities. That requires a lot of flexibility and versatility. The schedules are aligned with those for the activities: emergency food bank, group kitchens, parent-children lunch, lectures, motor skills, parent conferences, etc. Flexibility is called for because of the opportunities and connections to be made.
For the children, they explore musical awakening, the holidays on the calendar, a program called “Brindami” for which the educators received training in sixteen workshops for children aged 0 to 5. Those workshops are designed to enable the children to learn and practice new social skills. Following the workshops and as the days go by, the educators and parents will help the children gradually incorporate those new skills.
It’s not uncommon for Dominique and her colleagues to detect deficiencies or developmental delays. In a team meeting, the workers will agree on a tailored approach for working with the children as well as the parents in order to identify specific needs that are revealed, such as those involving language or food.
The organization works sympathetically with the families who visit and out of concern for preventing the problems from worsening. As such, a family that is disorganized, for whatever reason, will receive more support, giving them time to stabilize a problematic situation. At all times, they seek to build trust and then make recommendations and find solutions.
To help the parents regain control over their lives with the children, the organization offers the Triple P program. First offered as a lecture at the region’s schools and libraries, this contact with parents is sometimes their introduction to the organization. Through this approach, which runs for three (3) evenings every two (2) weeks, they learn to commend their children for positive behaviours and to properly manage negative behaviours. With the parents brought together, they settle into sharing. The workers don’t positioning themselves as experts, but instead reinforce coming together in a community of practice for parents facing issues of common concern. This program, provided in partnership with the CIUSSS de la Capitale-Nationale, school boards, public and private childcare services, and community organizations, fosters alliances among the region’s social players, helps identify families with special needs, and promotes referrals among the services for those same families. For example, in support of the workers and families, the speech therapist from the CIUSSS will come to the organization as an observer to validate the children’s potential needs identified by the educators at the drop-in daycare. This screening by an expert is essential before the child starts school.
The City of Beaupré owns the premises that house the organization. It invests along with the organization to keep the premises in excellent condition. As for the organization itself, it makes the effort to obtain funding from the community in order to re-invest in the playground or in the kitchens, which have to meet the growing needs of the clients.
Ressources Familiales Côte-de-Beaupré is also trying to go beyond its own four walls and build a presence in the community. The Caribou Program, which focuses on young children’s motor skills, is provided through the programming of the recreation department in the surrounding municipalities, but is given at the Beaupré multipurpose centre at a cost of $20 per child, partly through the CAPC program by the Public Health Agency of Canada.
The organization will soon have a second service point in Château-Richer at the Résidence Mont Champagnat, where space has been reserved for it on the ground floor and should be available in February. The plan is for that location to offer an emergency food bank, group kitchens, a social assistance office and, potentially, a drop-in daycare if funding is possible. They also see it as a positive, stimulating generational bridge for children and independent seniors.
Natacha and her Board of Directors believe that resource development will need to be done by that second service point, which is why the strategic planning exercise that the organization is about to undertake will be based on that assumption.
The Côte-de-Beaupré RCM and the municipalities are encouraged to develop social development strategies on their own and not rely entirely on community organizations for doing it. Community development depends on this condition. Financing is definitely key, but it is still necessary for that aspect to be addressed as part of an overall development vision. The installation of wind turbines in the Côte is generating royalties, and 20% of them will be paid to the community sector. This is a great lever for supporting projects that will contribute to community development.
The nature daycare pilot project, which the organization kept afloat last year, was not renewed because the advisory committee from the Ministry of Families refused to issue a permit for the 15 spaces requested. The project could be revived if there is a common desire in the Côte to see it come back and be developed. A great opportunity to bring young children closer to their natural environment and give them experiences that will be able to be reinvested in their development later. A direction that is definitely valued by the FDG.
By Hélène Dufresne
February 6, 2019