The start of the school year calendar always coincides with Early Childhood Intervention Program week. 

Located in Kindersley, the West Central Early Childhood Intervention Program is one of 14 ECIP locations in the province that assisted over 1000 Saskatchewan families just last year. 

They cover the local region including Macklin and Unity to the north, Rosetown and Kyle to the East, down at the river to the South, and then parts of Alberta to the West. West Central ECIP employs two staff, with one full time.

Arlene Goosen is the Executive Director for West Central ECIP.

"We typically have a caseload of around 20 children with a few referrals waiting for service."

With such a large area, there is typically a waiting period.

"We try to accept the families as quickly as possible based on where they live, and who we are already seeing in the area."

Goosen shared that most ECIPs are non-profit, charitable organizations who operate with a community Board, and funding from the Ministry of Education. Other similar programs exist locally without government funding, as Goosen also mentioned Early Childhood Intervention Programs have been operating across the province for over 40 years.

"We offer services to families with children, birth to 5 years of age, with a delay in their development.  Our services are offered twice a month in the family home where the families are the most comfortable, with a few exceptions." Goosen continued. "Families are typically referred to the program by a Public Health Nurse, a Doctor, or the school, however, parents can refer their child."   

A typical ECIP workers day has them spending just under two hours a day playing with children in their own home, offering up ways for parents to involve themselves with their children's development.

"We assess every child that comes onto our caseload with the help of the parent, using a couple of assessment tools.  Planned activities to help the child’s development are then taken on home visits, and ideas are given to the parent to incorporate into their everyday lives."

Goosen shared impressive stats that over 90% of children on the ECIP caseload show significant growth in their development, and families unanimously reported an increase in their confidence in skills as parents. The over 1000 families helped out were across some 200 communities.

"They feel better able to navigate the challenges that exist when parenting a child with a disability."

Goosen is passionate about the service West Central ECIP provides, and that same attitude goes for each and every stop across the province. ECIP Week runs September 10-16, as declared by former Minister of Education Dustin Duncan, and now current Minister Jeremy Cockrill.

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