To our friends and supporters,

I hope this message finds you safe and healthy.

Twelve weeks ago, everyone’s lives changed in many ways. I want you to know how humbled and grateful we have been for the support we have received during this very challenging time. Whether it is a phone call to check in, an email telling us how you are doing, or a gift to support those we serve or contribute to the financial sustainability of our organization, we are so appreciative. Thank you for continuing to partner with us to build strong families, even during a time when the ground may be shifting in your own lives.

We continue to serve vulnerable families remotely, through video platforms, phone, and a variety of other innovative ways. I am so proud of the work that has been done by our staff to be creative and flexible in how we can continue to best serve those in need.

I wanted to take the opportunity over the next couple of weeks to update you about some of the ways that we continue to support vulnerable families in Calgary.

Mental Health and Well-Being
Virtual Rapid Access Counselling – Book From the Living Room, the Kitchen, the Playground or even the Combine!
CFS is the first organization in Calgary to create a platform for counselling sessions to be booked online. Rapid Access Counselling (RAC) is a single session counselling program currently being offered through videoconferencing, where a 75-minute appointment is available, with daytime, evening, and weekend options. Our model supports individuals, couples, and families to have access to counselling with reduced barriers and no wait list. Most importantly, it supports clients in having the right conversation at the right time.

  • Since March 15, we have supported families with 235 counselling sessions
  • The most common COVID-19 related counselling concerns include mental health, family relations, and self-regulation
  • Clients have reported a reduction in risk (95%), anxiety (94%), hopelessness (93%), and distress (93%) as a result of accessing RAC

Mindfulness Mondays is at 2pm weekly. It is a short, guided mindfulness experience, geared for the whole family, hosted through videoconference. Since starting in March, it has a weekly average of 10 participants. You can register to get the link by emailing intake@cfs-ab.org.

Instagram Live on Thursday evenings has averaged 25 viewers, with more than 100 views of the recordings. Some of the topics covered so far include: activities to do with your children, parenting during the pandemic, a conversation with the donor who started our 5 for Humanity Fund campaign, and coping with solitude and isolation. Tune in for more topics in the coming weeks.

Louise Dean Centre – Services for Pregnant and Parenting Mothers and Fathers
With the school temporarily closed, it has been even more important that we make every effort to reach out to young parents to support their emotional and social needs. Some recent innovations include:

  • 19 young parents are participating in testing an innovative app-like web service called “CFS Check-In”. CFS Check-In allows young parents to assess their emotional well-being daily and send that update to their social worker. Complimenting the counselling service students continue to receive from the social workers, the CFS Check-In App provides mental health resources to build the young parent’s capacity and help them with real time strategies to manage their current emotional state.
  • In addition to ongoing outreach to young fathers, our Fathers Moving Forward Coordinator created videos on anxiety and anxiety reduction for our social media platforms. To date, they have received over 300 views.

Is There Something We Can Do For You?
As re-launch strategies begin to roll out across the country and locally, I recognize that it doesn’t necessarily mean that everything is okay. If you or someone you know is struggling, please know that we are here for you. Please feel free to book in for counselling https://booksinglesession.cfs-ab.org or a team member is also available to help at 403.205.5294 or intake@cfs-ab.org.

We have also updated our website with blog posts and self-help pages to help families during COVID-19. Some of the topics include reducing spending, playtime activities with infants and children, grief, and understanding how life affects our eating habits.

We remain committed to being here for families in some of their greatest times of need and appreciate having you at our side. As we look to the future, we have not been untouched by the current economy and impact of grant and funding reductions. If you are able to help us with a donation, please visit our website at https://www.cfs-ab.org/give/donate/, or contact Tara Horsley at tara.horsley@cfs-ab.org or 403-205-8528.

Thank you again for your unwavering support in building strong families. I look forward to updating you in the weeks ahead.

Patricia Jones,
CEO, Catholic Family Service and the UP Foundation