The Alberta government's decision to eliminate Children's Services funding at the end of March is forcing Community Links in Airdrie to make some heart-wrenching decisions.  

The organization is losing $856,122 that they received last year which means they'll have to cut back on many programs and their hours of operation.  One of the most difficult things Community Links has had to grapple with has been the layoffs of people that will come about because of the funding cuts.   Executive Director Brenda Hume says they will amount ot 30 percent of their staff.

"We will need to address our staffing situation and therefore our programming.  We're working through those changes currently and we will be putting them on our website"

According to Hume, decisions will need to be made on how the loss of staff correlates to the reduction of services.  

Hume said changes will be made to many programs that have been previously offered through the Parent Link Centre and Resource Centre.  One of those programs has been valued by the people who've been involved.

"I can tell you right now that our Family Respite Program will need to end completely by the end of March and that is devastating for us for sure. We have a lot of parents and children that are supported through that program so we're very concerned about that."

Other programs currently being offered will be reduced so the number of times they are offered in the community will be different.   Hume says the hours of operation for Community Links will also be looked at as they work through the coming changes.  She said they'll be making all of those difficult decisions in the next couple of weeks.

Through other funding sources, Community Links will continue to provide support to the community, including:

o Early childhood development programs;

o Positive, effective parenting support and strategies;

o Ages and Stages check-ups;

o Information and referrals;

o Approved and Accredited Family Day Home Program;

o Walk-in, short and long term individual and group counselling;

o Supports for those affected by family violence;

o Senior support services including short-term senior respite;

o Educational workshops, groups and presentations;

o Volunteer opportunities;

o Connection to basic needs (i.e. Airdrie Participant Subsidy Program, Alberta Works, Airdrie Housing Ltd., Calgary Housing Ltd);

o Toy and Resource Library.

Although they are facing huge financial challenges, Hume insists Community Links will continue to be proud to serve the communities in North Rocky View and make positive differences in the lives of all residents.

Hume said now private funding opportunities will become more important than ever.  She invites any individual, group or businesses who are interested in helping Community Links to continue with their programs to contact her or Fund Development Officer Matt Mitchell.  

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