MD Taber - County of Warner South Coalition
The MD Taber-County of Warner South Coalition met to celebrate its accomplishments in September 2013. Many coalition members felt at that point that their work in the community was ‘done’. But after completing the final seed grant report and thinking ahead about the future, a number of members decided to re-energize the coalition. They are in the process of developing new plans and priorities.
Community at a glance
The Taber-Warner County South ECD community butts up against the Canadian-U.S. border, east of the City of Lethbridge. The population is spread sparsely among farms, small hamlets and towns. The biggest centres are Taber, with a population of 7,821, Vauxhall ( 1,069) and Milk River (816). Most people earn their living by farming or working in the agriculture-related industry. There are three potato plants, a cannery, a sugar factory and seed-cleaning facilities in the area. Residents also commute to jobs in the oil industry in northern Alberta.
The area, with its small settlements spread over great distances, poses challenges for planning community supports for early development. Services and programs for children are scarce and time-consuming to get to. Lack of transportation and cost can be a barrier to participation for families. Some of the communities have a large population of Low German-speaking Mennonites. Inclusiveness is an important issue.
EDI baseline results
According to EDI baseline data, 27 per cent of kindergarten-aged children are experiencing great difficulty in one or more areas of development. EDI results among the subcommunities vary a great deal. The percentage of children experiencing difficulty or great difficulty in communication skills and general knowledge ranges from 36 per cent in one community to under nine per cent in another, for example.
- Membership in the coalition is broad and includes: parents of preschool children, staff from the Parent Link Centre, Family and Community Support Services, the Welcome Wagon, school divisions, health, Parents as Teachers and representation from communities outside Taber, such as Grassy Lake.
- The community has a strong English as a Second Language program that helps Low German Mennonite families improve their English skills and, in turn, chances for employment. A Mennonite liaison worker is a useful resource for families. Families in these communities are close-knit and support each other.
The coalition serves a large geographic area, which makes it difficult for all communities to participate. Coalition meetings are held in Taber, which is a central location, but not easily accessible for people who like in communities such as Milk River and Warner.
- The coalition’s early efforts focused on getting EDI information out to official bodies and agencies. By late 2012, the coalition had met with village and town councils for Taber, Coutts, Farnwell, Milk River and the County of Warner.
- Early literacy training is being provided to parents and community service providers who live in areas that do not have access to literacy programs and have few services. The coalition is offering “Rhymes that Bind” training beginning in March (2014) to promote oral language development program and positive parenting through rhymes, finger plays, songs and simple movement games with their infants and toddlers. After receiving the training, participants will be able to run the program for parents in their subcommunity. This increases community capacity and allows services to be provided locally.
- The coalition is in early discussions about starting a toy lending library in Grassy Lakes to serve families in the area.
Early Child Development Community Response Seed Grant: Received Dec. 2010
Updated: April 28, 2014