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Parent coaching project receives provincial funding

Nursing professor awarded $500,000 from Alberta Human Services to provide support for vulnerable parents
May 23, 2014
Alberta Human Services Minister Manmeet Bhullar and Nursing Prof. Karen Benzies juggle twins, guests at Thursday’s funding announcement.

Alberta Human Services Minister Manmeet Bhullar and Nursing Prof. Karen Benzies juggle twins, guests at Thursday’s funding announcement. 

The Faculty of Nursing's Karen Benzies will continue her important work with families expecting or parenting an infant and experiencing periods of vulnerability, thanks to funding from the Government of Alberta.

The Honourable Manmeet Bhullar, minister of Alberta Human Services, announced at an event held at the Calgary Urban Projects Society (CUPS) on Thursday that Benzies' Welcome to Parenthood (W2P) project will receive $500,000 over two years. The initiative will connect vulnerable parents and parents-to-be with trained parent coaches and volunteer mentors in their community to help them learn positive parenting skills and manage stress. 

W2P will be implemented and evaluated at four demonstration sites, selected because of their community readiness for social innovation and their access to one of Alberta's 46 Parent Link Centres.

"Our priority is to ensure that every child in Alberta starts life off on a firm footing," says Bhullar. "Some parents don't have natural supports, like close relationships with extended family, to help them navigate pregnancy and the first few months of parenting. This project will ensure that these parents have access to quality early childhood supports so they can provide their children the security they need to grow and thrive."

Benzies and her team of researchers have worked with CUPS One World Child Development Centre since its inception in 2002, developing, implementing and evaluating programs for high-risk children and their families.

"Our communities are stronger when we ensure that all families receive support when they bring home a new baby," she says. "W2P will provide supports so that all families have what they need to enable Alberta children to grow up healthy and strong." The project will include coaching and mentorship to provide information and guidance for new parents.

To engage parents, the project will offer a "baby basket" that will include basic supplies and books that support early childhood development.

"We are excited to see this next step in our enduring partnerships between the Faculty of Nursing and community agencies like CUPS," says Dianne Tapp, dean, Faculty of Nursing. "The significant results from Dr. Benzies' program of research are ongoing testament to the value and impact of community-university relationships."

This initiative supports Alberta's five-point plan to take action to support vulnerable families, improve the child intervention system and keep children healthy and safe. 

Go to the Welcome to Parenthood – Alberta site for more information.