Council to ask province to keep Infant and Supported Child Development Programs

By David F. Rooney

City Council has decided to ask Child and Family Development Minister Mary Polak to reconsider her decision to axe an agency that supports specialists working with vulnerable infants and children.

Councillors made the decision to ask Polak to retain the Infant Development Program (IDP) and the Supported Child Development Program (SCDP) after hearing an eloquent plea from Kristal Bradshaw, Community Connections’ director of Community Living Services for Children.

“I’m concerned about the long-term implications for children,” she told Mayor David Raven and Council.

Bradshaw has said in previous interviews with The Revelstoke Current that interrupting the delivery of assistance to parents and children with developmental problems could have long-range consequences for them as they enter school and strive to succeed.

There currently are 16 infants and 12 children in Revelstoke who benefit from the support offered by the program, Polak had decided to eliminate a month ago. The Infant Development Program’s Provincial Advisor’s office, which is being cut, was instrumental in the development and ongoing success of the IDP. Currently, there are 53 programs with 194 consultants who provide direct service to 8,000 families annually. The provincial office is necessary to ensure consultants are well educated, family focused and well informed of current research and various therapies, Bradshaw said.

Council’s decision adds another strong voice to the argument in favour of retaining the Provincial Advisor’s Office.

Two week ago, Norm Tennant, chairman of the Community Connections Society, weighed in calling on Polak to reverse her decision, which would see responsibility for the IDP and SCDP devolve onto Ministry of Child and Family Development staff.

“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.”