Forty-three years ago, an urgent need was recognized when children and youth began showing up at our Community Clubs on weekday mornings, telling staff they “couldn’t go back home.” At the time, there weren’t many options available for children and youth in these situations.
So, in 1971, the Executive Director of Boys’ Clubs of Calgary, Keith Pattinson, opened a Group Home in Bowness. Not only was this BGCC’s very first Group Home — it was also the first Group Home in Calgary. And it was also the place where BGCC’s CEO, Cheryl Doherty, got her start 40 years ago.
Cheryl worked at the Bowness Group Home for four years before working with Keith to open a second Group Home in Rundle (now the Forest Lawn Group Home), and later, a third Group Home in Dalhousie.
Our Group Homes provide youth, ages 13-17, who are unable to remain in their family home, with a place to live. Youth receive a variety of opportunities to grow into healthy and responsible adults. Group Homes are part of BGCC’s Community-Based Care and Supports service stream, where one of the most important goals is reconnecting children and youth with their families.
“At BGCC, we learned that no matter what kids experience in their natural home, they want to live back at home. It’s their family. We are now focused on how we can more effectively work with parents; this has really changed our work with families. We work to build on the strengths of parents, and work to connect families in a meaningful but safe way with the kids in our care,” Cheryl says.
In recent years, Calgary’s changing landscape is bringing with it a growing need for alternative types of care for children and youth who cannot remain in their family home. “The issues our staff are facing in Group Homes now are not like the issues I was dealing with. Back then, the issues weren’t as grave,” Cheryl explains.
Lynn Noel, BGCC’s Director of Community-Based Care and Supports, echoes this reality: “The situations that kids and families find themselves in can often be more complex. We have seen increased poverty, mental health challenges and addiction issues.” Lynn says these issues can be so complex that it can be difficult to meet these kids’ needs in traditional settings like Group Homes.
It is from this growing need for alternative forms of care that BGCC’s newest program, Traxtion, is being developed. Over the past 75 years, BGCC has been addressing new issues facing Calgarians with innovative, collaborative, and proactive approaches to meet the changing needs of our kids and families, and it is through this same commitment that BGCC is developing Traxtion.
The Traxtion program will provide temporary, family-based care in the homes of professional caregivers to youth, ages 12-17, who are in the care of Alberta Child and Family Services and are unable to reside with their family.
Traxtion caregivers will be educated in the human services field, and have experience working with at-risk youth. Caregivers will provide full-time parenting to one youth, and work with the youth to reach their goals, which may include reuniting the youth with family. Caregivers will be supported by a team of professionals through BGCC, to help caregivers support the youth in reaching their individual goals.
“We’re hoping that with Traxtion, there will be a more natural family feel. There’s consistency in the support provided, because the youth has one person with them through their journey,” Lynn says.
BGCC is currently seeking individuals who would like to become caregivers with the Traxtion program. If you have post-secondary education in the human services field, and have a passion for and experience working with at-risk youth, contact us!