The Child’s Circle Program is a joint venture between Northwest Alberta Children’s Services and the Fort Vermilion School Division. 4 Child’s Circle workers and 1 Child’s Circle Supervisor are available to provide services to children, youth and families through the Child’s Circle Program. Services are available as long as the child/youth is registered with the Fort Vermilion School Division.
The role of the Child’s Circle worker is to support students and families demonstrating risk factors to assist in the development of protective factors and increase their potential for success. While the mandate of the educational staff of the school (administrators, teachers and educational assistants) is to provide appropriate learning opportunities, the mandate of the Child’s Circle worker is to focus on services for students and families that positively influence the safety and overall well-being of the student and family. This will ensure that students are better able to learn at school.
The Child’s Circle staff are based out of the schools and provide services to children, youth and families within the schools as well as within the communities and directly with parents/caregivers in their homes.
This program offers the following services, individually or in partnership with other community agencies, to increase the protective factors and reduce risk factors experienced by families. The Child’s Circle service delivery approach is one of respect and understanding of the cultural diversity and community environment of the children, youth and families accessing services.
- Family Service Plan
- A Service Plan is developed to meet the needs of children, youth and families demonstrating higher levels of risk. The Service Plan identifies goals, targets and indicators of success specific to each family as well as strategies to be employed and stakeholders who will be involved in the Service Plan. The Service Plan is developed collaboratively by the Child’s Circle worker and family. The focus is on helping the family, including children and youth, to develop the skills and strengths needed to successfully support the family and minimize the need for intervention by Children’s Services. A coaching approach is critical so that the Child’s Circle worker is seen as a trusted coach or mentor for the family.
- Parent programming
- Direct supports that provide mentorship and coach parenting skills. Some of this work will be in the family home, working with the whole family unit.
- Group Programs
- Triple P Parenting (Standard level 4), Active Parenting or other parent education programs that meet the needs of the family. These may be provided by the Child’s Circle workers or in partnership with other agencies.
- In Home Support
- One of the most important components of the Child’s Circle Program is the in-home support model. Through Parent Education, mentorship and coaching, the Child’s Circle workers also provide the following services:
- Work directly with families in their homes.
- Assist in developing individualized supports that help strengthen the family core.
- Empower families to determine areas of growth and skill development, leading to higher levels of success and reduction of risk.
- Assist families in the development and implementation of
- Routines and structure in the home
- Budgeting, healthy meal prep, nutrition content and effective shopping
- Positive discipline and healthy relationships
- Youth supports
- Child’s Circle workers provide programs that focus on anger management, bullying, positive social and emotional skills as well as healthy relationships
- Transitional or follow up services
- Supporting at risk families whose files have been closed or are transferring out of Children’s Services involvement
The Child’s Circle workers keep record of all program activity. Individual client records will specify the presenting concern(s), the parental involvement, the plan to address the problem, the participants and time frames for identified activities, and indicators of progress in meeting desired outcomes. Collateral contacts, meetings, and referrals are also noted. Program activity records will identify each specific service provided, the frequency and duration of each service, and number of participants in each service.
Individual client intervention services are available to students and families identified as being at-risk; the target is to reduce the risk factors demonstrated by the student and family and increase the protective factors and the overall potential for success of both the child and family.
Children, youth and families may be referred by school staff, parents, themselves and/or outside agencies. The entire referral process is relatively quick, and it may only be a day or two before the family is contacted after the initial referral.
Children, youth and families will be referred to the Child’s Circle Program for direct services initially using the FVSD Student Support Services Referral Form. The referral process will also include interview(s) with the family and other involved agencies to determine the risk factors experienced by the family and need for Child’s Circle services. Anecdotal records of these interviews and any survey information gathered will be retained in the client file.
If a child, youth and/or family is to receive direct support from the Child’s Circle worker, a Service Plan is developed by the Child’s Circle worker, parent, child/youth, involved school staff and other involved service providers and signed by the parent/caregiver.
In cases where the student or family only present a few areas or are at low levels of risk, but s/he is identified by the school administrator or the family or another agency as being in need of intervention by the Child’s Circle worker, the administrator and/or the Supervisor will sign off on the referral. The Supervisor must be in agreement with the referral in all cases.
As follow-up to the FVSD Student Support Services Referral, the Child’s Circle worker will engage the family and other service providers/referral sources to determine the risk factors and strengths of the family. Student and family needs will be related to the risk factors identified in the Prevention and Early Intervention Framework for Children, Youth and Families.
More specific examples of need may include:
- Social/emotional risk indicators: An inability to establish or maintain satisfactory relationships with peers or adults, a general mood of unhappiness or depression, in-appropriate behaviour or feelings under ordinary conditions, difficulties in accepting realities of personal responsibility and accountability, physical violence toward other persons and/or physical destructiveness toward the environment.
- Physical well-being risk indicators: Hunger, improper/insufficient clothing, unkempt appearance, unmet vision/dental needs, untreated frequent health concerns (colds, coughs, flu, skin disease), fatigue, lethargy, “nowhere to go” purposelessness, “spaced out” or hung over (teens).
- Self-worth risk indicators: low self-esteem, no self-confidence, poor or negative self-image.
When families demonstrate the ability to effectively support themselves without the support of the Child’s Circle Program, there will be a gradual decrease of direct client services. Transition planning may include referrals to other proactive services within the community, assisting the family to articulate their Circle of Support in which they identify the support people and agencies in their lives upon whom they can call for support, as well as follow-up visits by the Child’s Circle worker. The length of the transition period will vary depending on each family’s level of risk and needed support. Every family on an active caseload will have a transition plan developed in collaboration with the Child’s Circle worker, extended family supports and other community programs.
The desired exit criteria consist of families demonstrating reduction of risk, increased protective factors and self-sufficiency. Parents are required upon exiting the Program (where possible) to complete a final Outcomes Survey as well as a Parent Satisfaction Survey. Families are transitioned out of service with the Child’s Circle Program and connected with natural supports or community agencies.
The priority will always be to provide early intervention services for as short a time as possible to avoid building a dependency on the part of the family. The ultimate goal is to empower families by building their protective factors and reducing the likelihood of risk factors developing or reducing the impact of existing risk factors a family may be experiencing.
Roles and Responsibilities of the Child’s Circle Supervisor
The Child’s Circle worker provides services to students and families in one or more local schools. It is important to work collaboratively with the administration and staff at each school in an effort to provide effective comprehensive services to students and their families.
The role of the Child’s Circle Supervisor is to oversee the Child’s Circle workers and ensure effective implementation of the Program across the division. The Supervisor collects data and completes reports; more importantly, this person provides coordination, supervision, leadership and mentorship for the Child’s Circle workers. Ongoing direct supervision of the Program and the Child’s Circle workers is the responsibility of the Child’s Circle Supervisor.