CERF Volant of Portneuf, a rebirth

A rather grey fall day brings me to Portneuf to meet with Nancy Dion, coordinator of the Centre d’Entraide et de Ressources Familiales of the Portneuf area, the CERF Volant of Portneuf.

“Flying” (volant) because the organization operates across the broad Portneuf area: from Pont-Rouge, where its offices are located, to Donnacona, from Saint-Raymond to Saint-Marc-des-Carrières, including Saint-Alban, Saint-Basile, Grondines, based on needs and collaborations.

Since June 2017, the CERF Volant has been established in a new building that houses the municipal offices and about 30 other organizations in an old convent that used to belong to the Sisters of Charity of St. Louis. The premises occupied are larger, more suitable, and have resulted in, depending on the services, increased usage by families, a diverse schedule and even the return of essential services that were previously dropped due to a lack of human and material resources.

photo-enfants_cerf-volant Also, this grouping of community life creates a great dynamic among the organizations, more immediate and natural referrals, they know each other better, they call on each other more easily. At the municipality level, the hub thus created is contributing to the revitalization of the city centre. A home has been provided to community organizations, recreation departments, associations, etc. in addition to giving a second life to this heritage building. The exterior has also been laid out to encourage the public to come to the site. A swimming pool, children’s play structures, picnic tables, a community garden and a large park make the location attractive and enjoyable.

Many families choose to live in the Portneuf region because, among other things, the cost of housing is lower and rural life is accessible, while still being close to Quebec City. However, the territory is large, and families and young parents are often far from the community they belong to and from their meaningful connections. They then have to rebuild a support network and develop contacts with other families.

And for that very reason, the CERF Volant takes an interest in the lives of young families. Home visits by volunteers trained to give some “Help for Mom” provide support to families and their babies who are 0 to 5 months old. If they wish, they are then invited to the “Gentle Hugs” workshop with their babies aged 0 to 12 months, which is held as a 10-week session and offered 4 times a year, in Pont-Rouge and Donnacona. This is the service that FDG funds. In addition to the topics of sleep, stimulation through play, feeding, and motor development being addressed, parents get the opportunity to meet on a regular basis, discuss their daily reality, and form connections with each other. The groups often continue to evolve independently after the sessions are over through projects such as outings, activities, or exchanges of babysitting services, for example. With the arrival of a second child, families return, having enjoyed this experience and for again having access to valuable resources in this workshop.


Other parent/children workshops such as 1,2,3…Let’s Grow Together (ages 18 months to 3 years), Little Discoveries (ages 3 to 5 years), Children’s Internal Weather (ages 3 to 5 years), Growing Up Workshops (ages 2 to 5 years), Animated Wednesdays (ages 0 to 5 years), each in their own way provide playful activities, while focusing on the parent/child relationship and the child’s overall development. In addition to that are the Community Kitchens groups, an access rights service (supervised visits and babysitting exchanges), the Parents’ Get-together workshop that covers topics chosen by the parents, while public lectures and personal follow-up provided to families using the approach of the Triple P (Positive Parenting Practices) program round out the programming.

Along with partners like the National Capital CIUSSS, day-care centres, schools, municipal recreation departments, libraries, community organizations, associations and many others, the CERF Volant has ensured an attendance of 4,176 people at its activities in 2018-2019, involving 415 parents and 420 children, and recruiting 149 families who are members of the organization.


The many referrals from partners, by word-of-mouth and through the various social media and networks, combined with a greater accommodation capacity, mean that the service offering has diversified, the funding has increased, and family participation is growing. Human resources are still the main challenge that the organization will have to overcome in the next few years, in terms of both staff and volunteers. As the coordinator, Nancy is concerned with conveying knowledge and expertise, formalizing the approach with families, and she commends the Board of Directors’ openness to recruiting an assistant coordinator to better support the team. Time has been set aside for training the workers, but also for the many volunteers, especially for the Help for Mom service.

With gratitude, we can state that, with the help of the CERF Volant of Portneuf, many families are getting a good start by providing their children with the opportunity to flourish.

Hélène Dufresne
October 29, 2019

A Mentor Parent, Uyanga

In Mongolia, the Association of Parents with Disabled Children (APDC) has been implementing a Mentor Parents Program since 2010 with the financial support of FDG. APDC organizes training for mentor parents to improve their skills and knowledge about children rights, human dignity, legislation and policy changes, while participating in various social activities. The Mentor Parents focus on supporting families who need guidance for the well-being of disabled children, they provide comprehensive information about child disability, state welfare law to the parents and help parents to be involved in the welfare system and to receive medical services for their children. Today, the Mentor Parents work in 3 mentoring groups, depending on their knowledge and interests such as health, education, and social welfare-protection.

As a result of some Mentor Parents’ initiation, hard work and effort, small centers were established with the support of the Khoroo Governor’s office (Khoroo is the smallest administration unit of the city), with school and also International NGOs. Through these centers they provide stable and continuous services to the parents and children of their community.

One of those Mentor Parents is Uyanga who is mother of a child with disabilities.

Picture : Uyanga
(Mentor Parent and Head of the “Gegeelen Tuv”).

She joined APDC as a member in 2008 and became a Mentor Parent in 2013 after attending Mentor Parents’ training. She mostly worked in Khoroos of the Chingeltei District using Khoroo Governor’s offices. She informed parents about the APDC, helped them to be able to receive social welfare. She also referred children to specialists and doctors services.

For her it wasn’t enough to help the children, therefore she established the NGO “Gegeelen Tuv”. Unfortunately there was no place to organize activities. A family helped her and gave her a spare ger (traditional dwelling). She got permission to built the ger near to the Khoroo Governor’s office. Soon after, the construction work started for a family doctor’s building. She rented a room next to an organisation, but it was difficult for her to find money to pay the rent.

She organized activities in another NGO’s office while their staff took their summer vacation. The Mentor Program moves from one place to another, but never stopped activities for disabled children and their parents. The Khoroo Governor valued her effort and gave a small building with 6 rooms next to the Governor’s Office to the NGO. He offered a contract to provide financial support for covering heating cost and 2 guards’ salaries.

She sent the description of the projects to the INGO “World Vision” and received support for renovating the building and to purchase some furniture and electronic devices. Today, 25 children receive the NGO services daily. Children do their homework, attend arts and craft lessons, do exercises with support of teachers, and get involved in projects offered by other organisations. Meanwhile she implemented several projects for children and their mothers.

Picture : Assistant teacher (volunteer).

For example: a project “How to make cookies” was implemented with support of the NGO “Good Neighbours”, doctor’s advice and psychical therapy have been given to the children 3 times a year by the NGO “Ninjin San”. A project named “Soap” was implemented for women. The project helped mother’s to earn some money.

Uyanga has been working hard to expand the center’s activities and is looking forward to hire their own teachers.

There are some other Mentor Parents who want to work like Uyanga, but due to lack of support from the Government they are having financial difficulties to pay them.

The last word goes to proud Uyanga:“When I visited the APDC first time, I was a very shy person. I mostly stayed at home, couldn’t communicate with people freely, I even didn’t know how to work with a computer. Now I’m more confident, my communication skills are improved. I am more willing to help children and I improve my leadership and mentoring skills. I am more confident working and helping people”.

By Dulmaa Luvsansharav
April 12, 2018