Photo: Tammy Lien, Child and Family Liaison (left), with two families who receive support from her: Mariah, mom to Liam (centre) and Sydney, mom to Avianna (right).

In April 2018, the Alberta government announced that it was investing $136 million over a three-year period to expand the early learning and childcare (ELCC) pilot sites across the province. Terra’s Child and Family Support Centre was selected as one of 122 approved centres. As a result, Terra has been able to invest more fully in services to enhance child and family well-being in three key areas: collaborative supports, inclusive practice and parent-child engagement.

The investment has helped Terra achieve a longstanding goal of offering a new resource for families: the Child and Family Liaison position. Tammy Lien—the Terra staff member in this new role—helps families connect to internal and external services, such as the health care system, child assessment services, follow-up support and prenatal and postnatal care. She is a member of a collaborative team who keeps the well-being of the child and parent central in our work.

Two-year-old Ryan is one of 77 children at the Child and Family Support Centre benefitting from the government’s commitment. Ryan has been with the centre since he was three weeks old. As Ryan grew, his mom and the early childhood educators recognized that he would require some additional support. With help from Tammy, Ryan and his mom have been connected to specialized services to ensure he can participate in everyday activities. The Child and Family Liaison plays a significant role in identifying the need for early intervention to support optimal development and seeking opportunities for inclusive practice.

Along with responding to the individual needs of families, Tammy also offers a weekly parenting group at Braemar School, provides transportation for families to and from important appointments, connects families to community resources and advocates for participants.

“Since my son’s birth, my relationship with Tammy has grown tremendously,” says Roda, a young mom who attends Braemar School. “My son and I come to see her every day. She’s my safe zone. She took the time to listen and not judge.” She adds, “Without her, I would not be where I am today. Anyone would be lucky to have her in their support system.”

The centre has realized many other benefits through participating in the Government of Alberta’s Early Learning and Childcare initiative, such as new agency partnerships, professional development for educators and the creation of a robust process supporting children and parents facing exceptional circumstances.

“Supporting the families and seeing the weight lift off their shoulders when they understand that they’re not alone is so rewarding,” explains Tammy. “I love seeing them realize that they have the capacity to do things they never thought they could do and watching them progress.”

Read More

You’ll find this article and more in our 2018 Community Report, titled Humans of Terra.

The report is a curated collection of stories and photography, which represents the important network of relationships at Terra—between our families, alumni, staff, volunteers, donors and supporters.

Read the full report!