Forum looks to reform child services

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January 22, 2015 9:12 AM

A Lloydminster area social worker says the city could be doing more to help children going through mental anguish and trauma.

Walking Through Grief Society facilitator Shirley Scott is organizing a forum to brainstorm possible reforms for child services in Lloydminster. Scott is encouraging those who are interested to attend.

“I have a real passion for kids’ needs and sometimes they’re not really fully addressed,” she said. “There’s a lot of things for adults but not really a lot of things for children to process their grief and often (parents) just think children are doing OK because they don’t say a lot, but they need support too.”

Scott says that she would like to see a counselling system where children spend less time one-on-one with counsellors and more time coping with grief together. She says group therapy benefits adults, and works with children as well.

“Nothing is really in a group atmosphere, where children can interact with other children and (realize) that they aren’t the only one that’s going through an experience,” she said. “They also get an opportunity to do more playing through their grief, rather than sitting and talking with councillors. In children’s groups where I’ve experienced this I’ve seen how they connect with each other and become very good supports for each other as well.”

Scott says she hopes that the assembled social workers, teachers, parents and concerned citizens will identify what is lacking in child support and come away from the conference with a plan for developing more effective programming for children going forward.

“I think there’s a lot of good resources in Lloydminster, but there’s always an opportunity to do more and to offer more and if there’s new ways and better ways and different ways to do things in the community, we’re certainly open to hear about that,” said City of Lloydminster cultural and social services general manager Patrick Lancaster, who plans to attend the event.

Lancaster says that when it comes to social services, most of what Lloydminster offers is done in conjunction with community organizations, private businesses and provincial partners. He says the city regularly meets with local groups and welcomes any recommendations the forum has to offer.

“Walking Through Grief is a great agency that does some great work in our community,” he said. “I’m very excited to hear what comes out of the discussions.”

Scott says when children act out in school, that behaviour can be traced back to unaddressed grief.

“We know that life can be really harsh for children and youth and they don’t always have a way of being able to express it,” she said. “Trauma we know effects the development of the brain. It affects whole family units… Our goal for Walking Through Grief is to be able to have healthy children and healthy families, mentally and emotionally.”

The children’s grief support forum will be held in the boardroom of Midwest Family Connections at 4910-50 St. in Lloydminster on Jan. 23 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. To RSVP for the event call 780-846-2576 or email wtgriefsupp@xplornet.ca.

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