June 18th, 2024

Family Centre facing challenges as it addresses community needs

By Troy Bannerman - Lethbridge Herald Local Journalism Initiative Reporter on February 10, 2023.

Herald file photo Parents and children take part in the drop in 'Play Zone' program at the Family Centre. The organization offers a variety of different programs and supports for families within the community.

The Family Centre provides many services to Lethbridge and area which support families who are transitioning through difficult times.

It offers support to recently divorced parents who are learning how to co-parent, a safe place for single dads to spend Saturday morning with their kids in their indoor playground, subsidized counselling services for struggling children and parents. And the centre is an essential institution within our community.

Maral Kiani Tari, the Executive Director of the Family Centre, describes her organization this way:

“We are a prevention and early intervention organization. So we provide a lot of services and support to the community in Lethbridge and the surrounding area. We are a part of the family resource network hub and Spokes.

“We are the hub in Lethbridge and we have Spokes internally. We also have an Indigenous Spoke within the Opokaasin being the hub. So we provide a lot of programming for families that have children 0-18. And those would be in the prevention and early intervention spectrums,” she said.

Kiana Tari said the centre wants to “create resilient families, create resilient children, and make sure that we are creating healthy communities down the road. So, we offer a variety of different programs from play programs to parent support, so that one-on-one or group parent support.”

The centre offers subsidized counselling and partners with private councillors for that.

Some of the centre’s programs and group supports are registered, “some are drop in, but a lot focus on that executive function, and skills and building resilient families. Yup, that is what we offer. There is a lot,” she said.

Like many non-profit organizations here, the Family Centre has been hit hard by the pandemic, and the resources required to operate at peak efficiency are not as available as they were before the pandemic.

Kiani Tari noted “something that we have experienced post-pandemic is that fundraising definitely got affected quite significantly. And I think that is across the board with a lot of not-for-profits. The funder’s priorities have also shifted throughout the whole year, as well as the City with the situations that arise.

“Some of those priorities have shifted. So as an organization we have definitely seen a reduction in that. But not only just a reduction, our expenses are high, with the cost of living going up, cost of food, cost of just everything. It’s not only affecting individuals, but we’re getting affected as an organization as well. So, our staff has been really adamant in making sure that they reduce the cost; to make sure that they’re hesitant in some of the purchases, and making sure that we’re being very fiscally responsible. We always have been, but we’re more so now counting those dollars and making sure that we can stretch that dollar further, and making sure that we can provide the same amount of support to families in Lethbridge.”

One of the biggest costs, said Kiana Tari is the cost of the sizable facility itself.

And a facility of that size is needed to run the centre’s programs.

“We also need to have a facility to run our programs. So our facility costs are high, and something that we’ve noticed and we’ve seen is that the funders don’t typically fund facility costs and so that becomes a bit of a stressor on the organization; that we kind of need to raise those funds and make sure that we are in the facility that we are. So looking at how we can reduce those costs is something that is really big for us. Finding different ways and finding initiatives that are provincial or municipal that we can partake in that we can reduce those costs for us would be really beneficial in how we provide our programs that we do.”

In addressing the community resource hub, like the one that some have proposed for the Bowman Building, Kiani Tari reflected, “this thought process had come in the past where having not just a facility that would benefit us. It was an initiative in the past where similar organizations would maybe be located in a similar area where we can offer the wrap-around service to all of our families in Lethbridge. Where our families don’t have to travel that far and they can essentially be in one hub location and get the support and services that they need.

“So that’s something that would be really beneficial to Lethbridge. We have noticed quite an increase in the support that we have from our families that are calling in for separation and divorce, or training for that counselling. Things that really are affecting our community. And having essentially a hub where a lot of organizations which we partner with, we partner with many many organizations, where we can provide that wrap-around service all in one place would be ideal. And it would be really beneficial to the community.”

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