Excellent programs and supports available for Halton’s parents

Raising a family can be a full-time job for many parents. Many of us strive to create a balance between home and family, work, friends, health and hopefully some community service. With so many competing interests, it’s comforting to know that Halton Region offers parents some excellent programs and supports.

Local parents can connect directly with a member of the Halton Region public health nursing team through our ever-growing HaltonParents online Twitter and Facebook communities or by dialing 311. For busy parents in search of timely information, the Region’s nurses also offer quality health information in their HaltonParents blog and provide a wealth of excellent online resources at halton.ca/haltonparents.

Whether you are transitioning to parenthood or working to improve your relationship with your teenager, the Region’s website offers parenting information for every age and stage, including topics such as pregnancy, growth, development, child safety and breastfeeding support.

At Halton Region, we want to ensure that your little ones get the best possible start to help build the foundation for a lifetime of good health. As a designated Baby-Friendly health unit, the Halton Region Health Department protects, promotes and supports breastfeeding in the community. In fact, we offer residents several great programs, classes and workshops focused on prenatal and early childhood development, including Healthy Babies, Healthy Children, the Halton Prenatal Nutrition Program and Halton Breastfeeding Connection.

Whether you are just thinking about having kids or your exciting journey has already begun, Halton Region and our public health nursing team is with you every step of the way. A complete list of our parenting programs, workshops and seminars is available on the Halton Region website.

As always, if you have any Regional concerns or comments you would like to share, please feel free to email me at gary.carr@halton.ca. You can also find me on Twitter @garycarrhalton, LinkedIn or on Facebook. To receive further updates on Regional issues, please subscribe to my quarterly e-newsletter,”The Carr Report.”

 

Get out and have family fun in Halton over March Break

March Break is almost here and if you are staying in Halton, there are so many things for you and your family to do. The HaltonParents team of public health nurses have been tweeting their growing number of followers about local activities for March Break, and reminding parents and caregivers to get out and be active with your kids. It’s not only great for your health, but it’s also great for building stronger connections with your children, no matter if they are 6 or 16.

Of course, as a former hockey player, skating was one of my favourite activities to do with my kids, but I used to love any times I spent with them when they had breaks from school. Here are some thoughts for what you can see and do in Halton this week:HRCA Crawford Lake

Of course, these are just a handful of ideas for you and your family. I encourage you to find out more about what is available just outside your front door. You can even check out the HaltonParents blog for more ideas about what to do with your kids during the winter. Enjoy the week.

As always, if you have any Regional concerns or comments you would like to share, please feel free to email me at  gary.carr@halton.ca. You can also find me on Twitter @garycarrhalton or on Facebook. To receive further updates on Regional issues, please subscribe to my quarterly e-newsletter, “The Carr Report.”

New online tools for parents: “Kindergarten: Ready, Set, Go!”

We’ve been making our website a priority over the past few years – to improve the information and resources we have available to the residents of Halton and increase the interactivity of our site. Now, parents of children ages three or four will find everything they need to know to help prepare their child for the transition to kindergarten in the new “Kindergarten: Ready, Set, Go!” pages.

Prepared in partnership between Halton Region, the Halton District School Board, the Halton Catholic School Board and the Ontario Early Years Centres, parents will find comprehensive information and interactive tools such as:

Topics and resources cover the five key areas of child development, health and building healthy lifestyles, setting routines, parenting tips, reading, schedules of school PD days and holidays, and upcoming local parenting presentations.Ready Set Go

In Halton, almost one in four five-year olds (Our Kids Network Report Card, Early Development Instrument) results is not ready for school. Halton Region, in partnership with our community organizations, want to help change this statistic and ensure parents in our region have the information, resources and support they need to help give their children the confidence and skills they need to succeed in school. The “Kindergarten: Ready, Set, Go!” pages should certainly help them achieve this goal.

Keep in mind that parents with children of any age – from pregnancy to raising teenagers –can connect directly with one of our public health nurses or child development staff at any time, in many ways, through HaltonParents:

As always, if you have any Regional concerns or comments you would like to share, please feel free to email me at gary.carr@halton.ca. You can also find me on Twitter @garycarrhalton or on Facebook. To receive further updates on Regional issues, please subscribe to my quarterly e-newsletter, “The Carr Report.”

The new Family Health Information Line – your connection to a local public health nurse

Did you know that you can talk directly with a local public health nurse any weekday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. about a wide range of topics for you or your family? The Halton Region Health Department now offers the Family Health Information Line (FHIL) where nurses will provide you with comprehensive, research-based information, support and counselling.

When you call FHIL, you will talk with one of seven nurses who can help you with your questions related to:

  • Mental health
  • Alcohol or drug use
  • Safety and injury prevention
  • Local supports and programs
  • Overall health and wellness

These nurses also service the telephone support for HaltonParents, where local parents can get advice and support about:

  • Pregnancy and breastfeeding support
  • Parenting – from birth to teens
  • Child/youth behaviour and health concerns
  • Preconception information
  • And much more…

HaltonParents public health nurses also offer support to parents online through the website, Twitter (@HaltonParents) and a parenting blog, with Facebook soon to come.

But FHIL is not restricted only to parents and the general public. It is also a great service for professionals across the Region. Physicians and other health providers, school professionals and child care professionals can receive access to evidence-based information and resources for patients and families, information about the Health Department’s programs and services, linkages to other local organizations, how to refer patients and families to services, and much more.

Establishing FHIL has been part of the Region’s Citizen’s Priorities Action Plan as a key initiative to enhance access to health information and services for residents in Halton. And because our public health nurses also work in the community, FHIL nurses can link you to the programs and services offered by many other agencies and organizations. FHIL allows the Health Department to be more inclusive, efficient and customer friendly.

So, to access the Family Health Information Line, simply dial 311 or 905-825-6000 and ask for the Family Health Information Line. You can also email one of the nurses at familyhealthinfo@halton.ca. To find out more about the line, visit www.halton.ca/fhil. Devon, Cindy, Nicole, Hilary, Kirsty, Andrea, and Tamara—are waiting to help you!

As always, if you have any Regional concerns or comments you would like to share, please feel free to email me at gary.carr@halton.ca. You can also find me on Twitter @garycarrhalton or on Facebook. To receive further updates on Regional issues, please subscribe to my quarterly e-newsletter, “The Carr Report.”

HaltonParents turns one

For the past year, Halton Region’s Public Health Nurses and Child Development staff have been tweeting and writing about all things parenting through HaltonParents. And on September 20, their little social media “baby” turned one.  With almost 1,500 followers on Twitter (@haltonparents) and averaging close to 2,000 blog views per month, HaltonParents has grown to be a great online community and resource for local residents who are:

The social media initiative also brings community agencies and other health organizations together to support healthy child development in Halton.

Every parent wants the best for their child. So, the goal for HaltonParents is to offer quality, evidence-based information in a casual forum to help parents feel confident in how they are raising their children. All of the staff on the team are parents themselves and understand the daily worries and challenges every parent goes through to ensure their child thrives. HaltonParents allows the staff to bring together and share both their personal experiences and their professional knowledge, with the understanding that every child is different.

As I parent of three grown children myself, I remember well the desires I had—and still have—for my kids to make wise choices, be confident in their abilities, have supportive friends, etc. Some days were definitely harder than others, and that’s where our staff can come in. Not only do they offer online support, they also work face to face out in the community with parents and schools every day. They help parents get the best start with their newborns, track their child’s development and make positive parenting choices. They know that positive parenting is the most critical factor in helping children avoid risky behaviours.

Parenting is one of the most rewarding journeys in life, and I’m pleased that our staff are available in so many ways to help make the journey easier. So, if you’re a parent in Halton, check out HaltonParents. The team will help answer your parenting questions or concerns—no matter if you’re pregnant with your first child or raising your third teenager. If they don’t know the answer, they will connect you with community services throughout Halton who can.

Of course if you don’t tweet or like reading blogs, feel free to email haltonparents@halton.ca or call the team with your parenting questions or concerns. Dial 311 or 905-825-6000, Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m

If you have any Regional concerns or comments you would like to share, please feel free to email me at gary.carr@halton.ca. To receive further updates on Regional issues, please subscribe to my quarterly e-newsletter, “The Carr Report.”

HaltonParents: 1,000+ Twitter followers and growing

What do I do for my child who is being bullied? My 3-year old is still not using the potty. Any suggestions? How can I manage my teenager’s attitude? These are just some of the questions that a group of Halton Region’s Public Health Nurses and Child Development staff are tweeting and writing about on HaltonParents: a great online community for all things parenting. And with over 1,000 followers on Twitter and more than 2,300 readers of the blog in May alone, clearly it’s hitting the mark with a rapidly growing number of local parents, community organizations, and others across Canada and the world.

HaltonParents offers quality, evidence-based information in a casual forum. The conversation is lively and our professional staff do not shy away from tough conversations. In fact, here’s the opening paragraph to one of the recent posts titled “What’s with weed”, written by one of the Public Health Nurses: “I admit it. I have never tried cannabis (marijuana, weed). According to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, I am in a slim majority. Forty-two percent of Ontarians over the age of 18 have used cannabis in their lifetimes. Almost half of Ontario’s grade 12 students (46%) say they have used cannabis in the past year.” She goes on to talk about the rationale and evidence as to why many teens are attracted to risky behaviour, and what parents may be able to do to help guide their sons and daughters into making smart choices.

So, if you’re a parent in Halton, check out HaltonParents. The team will help answer your parenting questions or concerns—no matter if you’re pregnant with your first child or raising your third teenager. If they don’t know the answer, the team will connect you with community services throughout Halton who can.

As per a tweet from mindyourmind, an Ontario organization who supports youth mental health, HaltonParents is “a great new online community to talk about parenting issues at all stages with professional staff.”

Of course if you don’t tweet, feel free to email or call the team with your parenting questions or concerns.

Here’s how to reach them:

Phone: Dial 311 or 905-825-6000, Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

If you have any Regional concerns or comments you would like to share, please feel free to email me at gary.carr@halton.ca. To receive further updates on Regional issues, please subscribe to my quarterly e-newsletter, “The Carr Report.”