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04 Feb, Saturday
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Montreal Families

Parenting help only a phone call away

When you need parenting advice, where do you turn? For many, it’s to a trusted family member or friend. But sometimes there are problems you don’t want to broadcast. Sometimes, you may want a professional opinion but don’t know who to consult. Enter Première Ressource: Aide aux parents, a bilingual telephone help line for parents.

The call-in centre was founded in 1983 by a social worker who realized many of her clients could benefit from such a service. The eight counsellors on staff all hold at least Bachelor’s degrees in fields such as social work, psychology or psycho education.

The service is available to anyone who feels they need help, from families to professionals such as daycare educators and teachers. Director General Amélie André says they usually field calls from mothers, although they do get some from dads, aunts, teachers and other family members about everything from sleeping techniques for babies to parenting after divorce.

They answer approximately 3,000 phone calls a year, about 250 a month, from people across the province (and even some who have moved to different provinces or countries). There is no time limit on the calls. They also organize conferences for organizations such as hospitals and daycares and hold workshops on the effects of a separation on parents and kids.

André acknowledged how prevalent the Internet has become in terms of child-rearing advice, but said it’s also making their interventions more complex. “There are multiple sources of information now,” she said. “There are books and the Internet and often parents try those resources first. When they call us, they’re already informed so we have go over everything they’ve tried before being able to offer effective advice.”

The organization is looking at ways to embrace the web – this fall they’re planning on rolling out live web chats, where people can ask counsellors questions in real time. The platform they use has a translator built in so people who may not be able to speak French or English can write in a question in their own language that is translated when relayed to the counsellor, whose response is also translated. They also have an email address that people can use.

André said despite the wealth of information that’s available online and the way the Internet is changing how they reach their clients, there’s still a need for the telephone service. Talking on the phone, she explained, allows the counsellors to assess the caller’s tone of voice, gleaning information not only from what they say, but how they say it. The counsellors can be reached at 514-525-2573.

For more information, visit premiereressource.com.

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