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.”

 

Heading Back to School? Pack a Lunch That Leaves No Waste

It’s back to school this week for thousands of families across Halton and, with this, comes the return of the daily routine of packing a lunch for school.

When preparing school lunches, think about making it waste-free by choosing products and packaging that can be recycled or composted. Selecting this type of packaging helps to produce less waste, diverting it from Halton’s landfill, one of the Region’s most valuable resources.

Waste-free lunch graphic (2)View the above resource.

While all publicly-funded schools in Halton participate in Blue Box and GreenCart programs, students and their families can help minimize unnecessary garbage by packing a waste-free lunch every day. Did you know that Halton Region was the first municipality in Ontario to have all its publicly-funded schools participating in the GreenCart program?Trucks

Halton Region residents are already among the best in the province when it comes to diverting waste away from the landfill.

Since April 1, 2013, Halton residents have been able to recycle even more items (e.g. single-serve yogurt cups) in their Blue Box. I’m proud to say residents are recycling more than ever and we’ve seen an eight per cent increase in the amount of Blue Box and GreenCart materials being collected since April 1.

As a result of these continued efforts, the life of Halton’s landfill site will be extended by an additional four years, resulting in a savings of $15 million to taxpayers.landfillgraphic

So this year, when you are packing your lunch, think about how you can reduce your waste. By reducing, reusing, recycling and composting we can have a positive impact on our environment.

To learn more about waste management programs in Halton, please access Halton Region by dialing 311 or visit www.halton.ca/waste. Follow Halton waste management on Twitter @HaltonRecycles and visit the blog at www.haltonrecycles.ca.

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 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.”

Halton Region’s 2012 – 2015 Early Learning & Child Care Plan

Later this year, Halton Region will complete Halton’s 2012-2015 Early Learning & Child Care Plan. Developed every five years, this comprehensive plan helps inform the effective delivery of early learning and child care programs throughout Halton.

The creation of the Plan is not possible without the input of parents and child care providers throughout Halton Region. This spring, Halton Region staff has been surveying professionals who work with children as well as the families in Halton that use child care and early learning programs. The purpose of the surveys is to gather information and opinions on the early learning and child care system.  

So far, over 300 community stakeholders have been engaged in this consultation process. During the month of June, more than 5000 families will also be asked about  their opinions and family experiences related to using early learning and child care programs in Halton.  If you have at least one child that is 0 to 6 years of age and you would like to provide your input, you can access the survey at: www.halton.ca/earlyyearssurvey. All the information collected will provide great insight to the early learning and child care experiences of children and families in Halton. Our Kids Network External Link – Early Years Committee is the advisory committee for the Plan with an expanded membership of local child care providers.

Halton Region is committed to providing programs and services that help support parents and children. Between 2007 and 2010, Halton invested $6.1 million to deliver additional subsidized child care spaces in the region. Halton also offers financial assistance to help with the cost of child care for eligible families where a parent is working, going to school or looking for work.

The children of today are our future. Halton’s 2012-2015 Early Learning & Child Care Plan will help ensure that we are supporting children and families in the best way possible and moving towards Our Kids Network vision of “all children thrive.

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.”