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  • Writer's pictureHannah Johnston

A look at Amcal Family Services and how they're helping West Island parents and children.

Upon visiting Amcal Family Services, in the heart of Pointe-Claire Village, it became clear how integral healthy family dynamics are within all communities and that supporting families who seek help is vital. The non-profit organization has been lending a hand to West Island families for over forty years, with programs and services tailored to help each family member.

Whether it be the parents who need assistance navigating parenting challenges or their children who need support, they can benefit from counselling and educational programs.

"At Amcal, we offer a wide range of counselling services. We recognize here that most of the work must be done as a family unit. Our motto is that parents who change will have children who change. This is very reassuring for parents, and we remove the stigma that only one family member is to be blamed. We do this in a non-judgmental way so that parents don't feel threatened."- Amcal Therapeutic Services Coordinator.

Counselling Services

A short-term program that addresses parenting goals and explores challenges that may be present and how to address them as a parental unit. For new parents, co-parents, single parents, couples, and guardians.

"We plant seeds to give families resources and tools to apply in their daily lives, but change is not easy, and it can be challenging when you are parenting through an emotional lens since these are your loved ones. It's difficult to be a parent."

A short-term program using the strength of families to guide them through the transition from adolescence to adulthood. For families with young adults aged 18-30 living in the family home.

"We try to bring the parents together when setting expectations, a structure, and consequences in the home."-Amcal Family Worker.

A short-term program to address issues of family dynamics and identify family strengths and solutions. For youths aged 7-17 and their families.

The counselling team is looking to launch an anxiety management program for elementary-school-aged- children, and they are seeking part-time experienced family workers to join their team.

School Programs

In the upcoming year, Amcal hopes to expand its outreach for its in-school program or "Intervenant Communautaire Scolaire" (ICS) that supports families who have needs that the school cannot meet, such as assistance in finding a job, understanding the Quebec education system, learning French, accessing housing, and other similar needs.

"In the Fall, we hope to implement our "Je me construis" program, which will be offered in elementary school classrooms. We aim to teach kindness, help them learn about their physical well-being and that of others, nutrition, respect, and cooperation. In the winter of 2024, our life skills workshops will teach adolescents practical day-to-day skills."-School-Based Program Coordinator.
Their School-Based Program is a classroom program that offers tools for schools and students to build social skills, positive character traits, and peaceful solutions to problems.

"Families First is a 10-week program that works hand in hand with schools to set goals for the child, their school life and their parents. Then, the worker will follow up with the family and work to achieve the desired goals."-Families First Social Worker.

Residential Program

For teens and young adults aged 12-17 who require respite or a reset, the Residential Program is the first step in a new direction. Teens engage in different nightly therapeutic groups, which include drug awareness, emotional management, and stress management. In addition to the group sessions with all teens simultaneously, the childcare workers also address issues of sexuality, life skills, budgeting, and how to make resumes.

"We teach teens how to recognize their behavioural choices as we support them in communicating openly with their parents through productive, open dialogue. Like most of our programs, the fees of service rates are on a sliding scale, depending on a family's income."-Residential Program Team Member.

Support groups

They also offer Community Groups to help families work better together—skill-building groups for children and adults dealing with anger management and divorce. Group availability is dependent on demand.

To continue the work that they do and to expand their outreach, they rely on generous donors. They are hosting A Taste of AMCAL on Monday, April 17th, designed to raise funds for the ever-present needs of the community. Local restaurants and caterers will offer a menu tasting, and there will be a silent auction and raffle.

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