The Pearson Elementary family HUB centre. Photo Credit: Contributed

Safe haven for troubled families

Family HUB at Pearson Elementary making a difference

An Iranian mom with children still too young for school looking for opportunities for her and her family to learn English.

A Mexican mom is exhausted dealing with her two-year-old daughter and is pregnant with her second child.

A mother struggling with her child’s behaviour in school.

Two mothers arranging to meet for play-dates once a week with their boys, both diagnosed with autism who have a difficult time playing with other kids in traditional community play environments.

These families have all found a place to seek help and support at a multi-agency collaborative effort housed at a Kelowna elementary school.

The Family HUB was set up last year at Pearson Elementary School, pioneered by the Community Action towards Children’s Health Coalition.

Managed by Kelowna Community Resources, the HUB serves as a communication link between families and social service support agencies.

Some 4,000 visits were recorded this past year at the centre, which offers both information to assess 20 service organizations offering various social support needs and a safe environment for the two full-time facilitators to listen to parent’s concerns.

Almost 900 direct referrals were directed to the various agency providers. Among those referrals, 235 were for access to family and child health care services, 120 for securing food, 110 for children’s behaviour and 90 for early years programming.

“We are here to help people navigate the system or try to figure out how to help a family dealing with issues,” said HUB facilitator Rich Chapman, speaking at last Wednesday’s school board meeting.

“Sometimes you just need to listen.”

Chapman says students and parents thrive when they are being looked after, when the feel a sense of attachment rather than dislocation.

Advocating and supporting the parents, and getting kids access to programs where necessary to help them progress in school, are ideals fostered by the HUB program, Chapman said.

The HUB model is not meant to compete for funding dollars with other social programs, but to provide a venue for programs to operate together for the good of the community.

While the drop-in centre is located at Pearson, one of the most socio-economic challenged catchment areas in Kelowna, it is available to all families in the school district.

Chapman said the impact of HUB on some families has led two families, one from a private school and one from another public school, to transfer their kids into Pearson Elementary.

Their reasoning, Chapman explained, was the community nature of the school aided by the HUB service and the relationships that has helped to develop for those parents with the principal and other staff.

Ellen Boelcke, executive director of KCR, applauded the school board for taking a chance on a concept with noble intentions but unsure expectations.

“The response we have received, talking to you now a year later, has been amazing,” Boelcke said.

The drop-in centre is set up as an informal living room designed to be a welcoming place for children and parents. Parents can utilize the space to socialize, relax or to consult with the HUB facilitators.

It is currently open year-round on weekdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

School board chair Moyra Baxter said the passion and care for families in need is clearly evident at the HUB.

“When we start looking out for each other, that’s why programs like this can be so successful,” Baxter said.


@BarryGerding
barry.gerding@blackpress.ca

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