Louise Osmond knows that strong relationships are the foundation to working effectively with children and families.
At 24 years old, with a 3-year old toddler and a newborn baby, Louise Osmond became a single parent. With the support of many community agencies and programs she was able to complete her four year Child and Youth Care degree at the University of Victoria and follow her dreams of working with children, youth and families.
Today, in her role as the Central Okanagan Universal Screening Initiative (COUSI) Coordinator, she guides families through the use of the Ages and Stages Questionnaire, a tool that helps to identify whether a child is developmentally on track. More than that, she provides reassurance, validation and resources for parents. “So often parents wonder if everything is okay; if what my baby or toddler or preschooler is doing is normal.” Louise sees the ASQ screening as an opportunity for parents to celebrate their child; the qualities, characteristics that make them unique. “It’s a way of filling your toolkit so you can be there for your child. It is a strength; a gift to your child.”
Success By 6 is a United Way initiative focused on making the Central Okanagan the best place possible to raise a child. Success by 6, along with the Central Okanagan Foundation, provided funding toward the COUSI Coordinator position at the Kelowna Child Care Society. The investment was part of a comprehensive strategy to help children succeed for life by focusing on the development of social and emotional skills.
"Ensuring that our community is a strong and healthy one in the future starts with our communities children," explains Shelley Gilmore, Executive Director of the United Way CSO. "Our United Way is committed to investing in children's programming that supports the family unit and fosters both individual and family success. Success By 6 is just one program that we are part of that is working to make an impact."
Because Louise was a young parent she can relate to the challenges people face. She recalls, “you do face a lot of judgement. I know what it was like to have eyes on me.”
Many families in our region don’t have an informal family network around them. They have moved here from other areas of the province or country and can feel isolated. Louise feels that programs and initiatives are working to try to fill the void in the support system.
“I want people to feel that I have seen them and heard them.” As she watches the families and babies she works with grow and develop she sees, “they are highly skilled and able to nurture. Parents are so capable. They take their role as a parent very seriously.”
Louise admits that sometimes developmental concerns arise. Yet, the sooner parents and care providers catch a delay, the sooner they can make a difference. The importance of the first six years should not be underestimated; it sets the foundation for all the health, growth, learning, and life satisfaction that follows. Providing early identification of potential differences is crucial.
United Way works with partner agencies like the Kelowna Child Care Society, investing in three focus areas: building strong communities, helping kids be all they can be, and moving people from poverty to possibility. To join the movement, visit www.unitedwaycso.com
This article was submitted by Amanda Turner, Success By 6 Coordinator for United Way in the Central Okanagan.
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.