Manitoba Government News Release–The Manitoba government is investing $60,000 to expand the highly successful Families and Schools Together (F&ST) program, bringing the total to nine schools benefiting from the initiative, Education Minister Kelvin Goertzen announced today.

“The F&ST program brings multiple families together after school, once per week, so parents can learn skills necessary to care for their children and to be lovingly connected to them,” said Goertzen. “As part of the expansion, we are also introducing the Baby F&ST program, aimed at children three years of age and under, at two sites. Baby F&ST is a great program for young, isolated mothers in insecure family environments and challenging circumstances.”

Goertzen noted the F&ST program has many social and educational benefits including building family resiliency and decreasing the likelihood of future drug addiction by children and current drug use by parents. The program has been delivered in Winnipeg and various rural areas for more than 25 years by Family Dynamics, a Winnipeg-based agency.

“Family Dynamics has been delivering the Families and Schools Together program for over two decades because we know it helps families with young children come together in a healthy and safe way,” said Steve Williams, president of the board, Family Dynamics Inc.

F&ST is in use in 20 countries and in more than 2,000 schools around the world. The United Nations, Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada have recognized the program as an exemplary best practice.

The funding to expand F&ST comes from the Canada-Manitoba Home and Community Care and Mental Health and Addictions Services Funding Agreement. This is one of many initiatives undertaken by the Manitoba government to improve access to services for families struggling with mental health and addictions.

The investment builds on recommendations made in the VIRGO report to the Manitoba government to prioritize funding for an expansion of mental health and addictions services for children and youth.