Sooke’s only support program for expectant parents is hoping a newly announced government initiative will add to the breadth of family support services in the town.
For the Sooke Family Resource Society, which has been running prenatal care programs since August 2010, the Healthy Start program will be just another resource for young moms in Sooke.
Part of the B.C. government’s Healthy Families strategy, the Healthy Start program was launched mid-June and will funnel $23 million into supporting young, at-risk mothers from the second trimester of pregnancy to after the birth.
An important facet of the program is the Nurse-Family Partnership, an arrangement where a public health nurse pays visits to mothers throughout their pregnancies.
“The ministry is currently working … to coordinate our existing resources so that all pregnant women in B.C. receive appropriate, high-quality maternal care,” said Lori DeLuca, public affairs officer with the B.C. Ministry of Health.
Help with breastfeeding, education about substance abuse during pregnancy and support for post-partum depression, are examples of care provided.
Although Daphne Raymond, manager of children and family services at the Sooke Family Resource Society, noticed the government has been vague about a start date – tentatively set for early 2012 – she’s not worried.
The society is used to filling a need without appropriate government funding. Sooke, unlike Langford and other Greater Victoria municipalities, doesn’t have a government-run prenatal care program.
“We’re not frustrated that they can’t give us answers because they haven’t been able to give us answers for years in our community,” she said.
DeLuca said the 2012 date was set to give time to train the nurses who will be involved.
It targets at-risk, first-time mothers under age 25. Only half of the clients that use the Family Resource Society’s services are under 25.
“We can support everyone who comes to us,” Raymond said. Ideally, both programs would operate at the same time, she added.
“Especially in Sooke, where there are limited services, any enhancement is an enhancement,” she said.
The society has no guaranteed funding for their prenatal programs past March 2012 but their family resource program coordinator, Teresa Norquay, stressed they reach this point at the end of their funding cycle every year and have always been supported in the past.
“We just hope and put feelers out there,” she said.