Community Connections chairman calls on minister to reconsider vulnerable kids’ program cuts

By David F. Rooney

Norm Tennant, chairman of the Community Connections Society, has written to Child and Family Development Minister Mary Polak urging her to reconsider her decision to close an agency that helps vulnerable children.

“In our opinion, the loss of the Provincial Advisor’s Offices for the Infant Development and Supported Child Development Office will result in fragmented services across the province, lack of leadership to set standards for education and practice, and, most importantly, lack of support for the consultants who provide services to the vulnerable children and families in our community,” Tennant said in a letter to Polak.  “We strongly urge you to reconsider these closures.”

Last month Polak said the decision to kill off the positions was an “effort to reduce administrative costs and invest those dollars where they are needed most — in direct, front-line services for children and families.”

The move was decried by parents and specialists. The funding cuts eliminate the office of the Infant Development Program’s Provincial Advisor which has been instrumental in the development and success of 53 programs with 194 consultants who provide direct service to 8,000 families annually. The provincial office ensures consultants are well educated, family focused and well informed of current research and various therapies.About 30 children in Revelstoke would be affected by the cuts.

One voice condemning Polak’s decision last month was that of Kristal Bradshaw, Community Connections’ director of Community Living Services for Children.

“What I think will happens is that gradually services will be eroded,” she said. “IDP has an excellent reputation but it’s a slippery slope — and a steep one. Take it away and it’s going to be very difficult for everyone down the road.”