Alberta's Family Resource Networks (FRN) are getting an increase in funding.

The provincial government recently announced funding for FRNs had been increased by $6.6 million over the next two years, bringing their total budget up to $66.7 million.

Alberta's government first launched FRNs in 2020, and there are now 70 across the province including 35 serving rural families.

Two of those are in the Foothills region, the McMan Family Resource Network in Okotoks and the Greater Foothills Family Resource Network in High River.

Heather Warren, Program Manager with McMan, says they cover a wide range of supports and services.

"FRNs provide free programming for all families with children of 0-18 years of age. We help with things like parenting challenges, child-parent conflict, emotional regulation, and understanding child development needs. Also, life skill development for youth, helping them learn skills to manage their day-to-day challenges, again, managing their emotions, building skills such as cooking, learners' prep, and anything that will help them successfully transition into adulthood. We also provide opportunities for people to connect, get to know each other, and build their own natural support systems."

She says the increase in funding has allowed McMan to secure an in-home support worker.

"They'll work alongside families to support their needs, basically meeting families where they're at. They will help families build routines, manage challenging behaviours, support families to communicate effectively, support them in building their natural support network, and connect to community resources."

With FRNs having launched in April 2020, Warren says they came along at just the right time to help families through the fallout of the pandemic.

"We've definitely seen an increase in families reaching out just for basic needs around food and housing, and support with family dynamics. We're seeing a lot with youth struggling in social settings post-COVID, not being able to manage their emotions appropriately. This causes them to struggle in school and peer relationships, so we do see more of those referrals coming our way."

She says they foster a supportive and non-judgemental environment.

"We have lots of youth groups, caregiver groups, we sometimes do parent nights. We also have the ability to refer to outside resources as well, we've built a lot of great working relationships in the Okotoks and Foothills area, so we collaborate with them if the families require other services. There's no wrong door, if you have a question, you're curious about something, please give us a call... We try to make it as warm and welcoming as we can. There's no judgment, all of us struggle. Adulting is hard, parenting is hard, being a kid is hard. There's nothing wrong with coming in and saying 'Hey, I'm struggling with this, I need some help.'"

McMan also regularly hosts community events, including an upcoming Child and Youth Artisan Market.

It's being held at their office on 72 North Railway Street on April 20 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., with free admission.