It’s often said there’s never enough time to do everything you want to do during the day, especially if you have young children to parent.
That’s where the Tree House Drop-In Centre may come in handy through its Branch Out program.
The program gives parents of toddlers a chance to get a helping hand whenever it’s needed most. It’s available to those who have attended enough of the centre’s programs that they and their children are comfortable enough with centre staff.
Genevieve Clarke, the centre’s program director, said the general idea is to give a parent a break in order to get some small tasks done.
“We provide child/children entertainment and care for short periods of time so parents can get a break,” she said.
The location and activity of the branch out is up to the client, she added, but the parent and the child must be in the same location during the branch out.
“It could be exercise, attend medical appointments, or just complete daily tasks without being interrupted every two minutes,” she said. “It provides parents with a much-needed break or can reduce the stress of trying to do it all with little ones accompanying you everywhere.”
Some of the things the branch out has been used for in the past, said Clarke, include entertaining a three-year-old in the hospital waiting area while their mother was taking with a doctor and entertaining a child in a home while a mother of three folds the laundry without having to stop every two minutes while their toddler unfolded everything.
The program runs every afternoon between Mondays and Thursdays. Anyone who wants to schedule a branch out must do so at least one day in advance and all bookings are subject to staff availability as there are just two staff members, said Clarke.
“We’ve been running this program for 12 years,” she said. “Up to now, it’s only been advertised on the back of our calendars or by word of mouth simply because we can only provide it to established clients.”
That’s because of the familiarity issue, she added.
So far this year, Clarke said between four and seven families and several families use the program each year.
“The program has been well-received by all and we will continue to run it throughout the coming years,” she said.