It will be a place for young families to meet others like them.
Family Futures in conjunction with Westview and Queen Mary Community Schools will be starting Baby Cafés at both schools next week.
“In the winter time I had some young moms approach me with an idea of having some place for them to go that was a drop in place, casual, but not necessarily a program,” Family Futures executive director Donna Strauss said.
When she was first approached, Strauss couldn’t come with any ideas. This spring, Strauss attended a provincially sponsored workshop about family resource centres, which gave her an idea.
“There will be some created in the province and it is a bigger idea than this but that started me thinking we could do something on a small scale and the proper place to put these was in the schools,” Strauss said. “When we approached Westview and Queen Mary, they were both very excited about the idea because they also had been looking for ways to engage families in the school and especially families with young children so hopefully they would feel comfortable going there by the time they start coming there for pre-K and Kindergarten.”
Family Futures will also be adding the 1, 2, 3, Play With Me parent and tot group to the Baby Cafés once a week.
“The school is also going to do some programming and have it as a drop-in place for moms and young children,” Strauss said. “As for 1,2,3, Play With Me, we have done it for a couple years and we have tried to do it in about six week sessions in about four different schools but we found that attendance wasn’t regular -- it was kind of poor.”
They decided to concentrate on two schools and have it once a week throughout the school year. Strauss said they are hopeful it will work out better.
“I have two volunteers with our program that will manage those and work with the schools to operate the Baby Cafes as well,” Strauss said. “We have made the room very child friendly for children under four and the parent and tot program will be an added thing to that. It is our hope that eventually the schools will take ownership of it.”
If it works out at Westview and Queen Mary, Strauss said they will then try to start the parent and tot group into more schools.
The partnership will benefit both the schools and Family Futures.
“That is a very important partnership for us, especially with community schools,” Strauss said. “They have the space and nutrition worker to prepare snacks and they have volunteers in their schools. We will have all those things plus our programming.”
She hopes parents find the Baby Cafés interesting and help them meet more families in their area.
“There isn’t a lot of places in the neighbourhoods, especially that far out on the west flats, for people to congregate,” Strauss said. “There are no restaurants, there are no coffee shops and a lot of these folks don’t have transportation. By putting something in the neighbourhood school, hopefully it will be within walking distance.”
The Baby Cafés will be open at Westview Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from 10 a.m. until noon.
“It will give them an opportunity to meet other families that are in the same circumstance, to meet the staff at the school and to interact with other people,” Strauss said. “As well, it is going to give the school and those families some access to our outreach staff so if there are families there in need, we can either help them or put them in touch with what they need.”