By Mallorie Rast
Earlier this week, the West Central Early Childhood Intervention Program (WCECIP) held its annual general meeting in conclusion of its 2019-2020 year, wrapping up its 38th year in the west central area and looking ahead to 2020-2021 with confidence, despite COVID-19 obstacles.
“The last few months with COVID have been challenging,” WCECIP Executive Director and Interventionist Arlene Goosen said in a recent interview. “But we are happy to say that we have still been able to help parents help their children, which is essentially what ECIP is all about.”
Started in the West Central area in 1982, ECIP was developed as a way for young children who experience or who are at risk of experiencing physical or cognitive delays to receive the support they need to overcome the delays. As the name indicates, ECIP serves families with children ages infancy to 5-years-old, when the child is then able to transfer to a school-based program within the educational system.
“Our journey with a child and his or her family first starts with a referral,” Goosen explained. “After that, we schedule an initial visit with the family where we assess where the child is at and develop a growth plan with the family. We then provide support to the family, developing a program to help the child attain the goals, as well as connect the family with supports in their area.”
Referrals typically come from Public Health, physicians, the Alvin Buckwell Centre in Saskatoon, and occasionally from daycares and other childcare services. Another prime referral is from the parents themselves, who are seeking knowledge in how to support their child. “We are always open to new referrals and enjoy helping families within our service area.”
The area WCECIP serves is large, going as far north as the communities of Wilkie and Unity, as far east as Zealandia, then south to the South Saskatchewan River, and west to the Alberta border. In fact, only 24% of the families served by WCECIP are located within 50 km of their base in Kindersley, the other 76% of families are over that 50 km mark. For the compact office of two Interventionists, Arlene Goosen and her co-worker Cheryl McGrath, this large area means a heavy amount of their time is spent driving.
Once COVID restrictions came to the province WCECIP’s home visits ground to a halt, but Goosen and McGrath were able to still reach out to families via phone conference calls, and warmer weather is now permitting drive-by visits to either the family’s yard or local playground. Goosen says the organization is patiently waiting for further governmental instruction before resuming home visits.
On the whole, the 2019-2020 year ended well, and 2020-2021 is looking strong for WCECIP with one exception. The organization is looking for more board members to join their team and is encouraging the community to get involved. For more information, please contact the central office at email@example.com or at 306-463-6822.
For more information on referrals, program services, and the area served, check out west-central.ecip.ca, or WCECIP’s Facebook Page, “West Central ECIP,” or call the office at 306-463-6822.