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Renewed funding for 'life-changing' kids mental health program

Paula Littlejohn and her son William say the Confident Parents; Thriving Kids program was life-changing for them. (Lasia Kretzel, NEWS 1130 Photo)

'You never want to give up on your kids... it gave me the direction that I needed,' says BC mom of provincial program

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – It’s the program Paula Littlejohn calls “life changing.”

The mother of two was struggling to cope with her youngest son William’s behavioural issues, when she heard about the Confident Parent; Thriving Kids.

The multi-session course offers over-the-phone training free of charge for primary caregivers of children aged three to 12 with severe behaviour problems to promote good behaviour in a positive environment.

“I think it is life changing. I think it gives you confidence. It truly helps you to be a better parent,” Littlejohn says. “You never want to give up on your kids. You want to be there for them and I think for me, it just gave me the direction that I needed so that it was positive.”

The program launched last year. Today, Minister of Children and Family Development Stephanie Cadieux announced the province’s commitment to renew its annual $1.49-million funding for another year.

“What we want for families is for everyone to have healthy, happy family relationships,” Cadieux says. “It is no surprise to me that confident parents raise strong and happy children.”

Littlejohn says the program helped her learn how to clearly and positively communicate what she needs William to do, from helping around the house to getting ready for school.

William, 13, says the program also helped him improve communication with his mother and with his own emotions.

“I tended to not listen to her. I had trouble doing what she told me to do and not wanting to listen to her,” he says. “I made it easier for her and to have better control over myself. She changed a lot of my thoughts on listening to her and she really helped me out and I think it helped for both of us.”

Right now, the program offers the course to 1,000 families who have been referred by their doctors, and there is a waiting list of more than 200. Despite high demand, the funding is only for one year as the province evaluates the results.

“We’re right now in the process of looking at across government mental health services, not just for children and families, but adults as well,” Cadieux says. “I’m not saying today that I can commit that next year the funds will be the same, they could be more. We don’t know yet about next year.”

It is also limited to children aged three to 12. Now that William is 13, both mother and son hope the province considers extending it to teens.