New specialized program for students launches in Red Deer

  • Dec. 5, 2012 4:00 p.m.

A new program in Central Alberta helping children with developmental issues was recently launched in the City.

The Journeys Learning Program has been operating since this past September. It is available to students who are aged 11 to 18 and who have complex needs.

The program serves children and youth who have developmental, medical, mental health and behavioural needs.

“This program is designed to meet the most complex needs of students,” said Piet Langstraat, superintendent of Red Deer Public Schools. “The program was first an idea in April and then we decided to really move forward with it in June and just 60 days later we were offering it in September. It’s really a good example of how a number of partners can work together effectively.”

Partners in the program include the Central Alberta Child and Family Services Authority, Alberta Health Services, the RCMP, Red Deer Public School District and the Red Deer Catholic Regional School Division as well as Chinook’s Edge School Division, Wild Rose School Division and the Wolf Creek Public School Division.

The highly specialized program is focused on creating an enabling learning environment that supports students to be successful. A congregated program facilitates learning for students with complex needs. It allows staff to focus on skill development to improve socialization and interaction with others.

There are 10 spaces in the program for students. Currently, there are six participating.

The Journeys Learning Program is located in the Alternative School Centre in Red Deer where the on-site principal and education support team oversee the daily program.

Since the program’s beginning in September, Langstraat said the response from families with children in the program has been “terrific”.

“There is one mother who we’ve spoken to whose child was out of school more than they were in because of behavioural issues. Now her child is able to go to school every day – that’s huge.”

David Tunney, chief executive officer for the Central Alberta Child and Family Services Authority said all of the partners involved in the development of this new program came together quickly to make it happen because they recognized the importance of it.

“If we don’t have a program that is specialized than that child might have to move. And the most important thing is to keep the children with their families,” said Tunney. “Kids do best when they are with their parents.”

In terms of expansion, Langstraat said officials are currently waiting to see how the program develops, but they do have room to expand if needed.

“If we do need to expand we have the option, but the goal with this program is to transition these children into a regular school environment.”