Family and Community Support Services (FCSS) and the Horizon School Division have partnered. The partnership was created to address service gaps and increase and enhance the overall availability and accessibility of psychosocial and psychoeducational services to children, youth and their families. Tanie Reid-Walker, a full-time counsellor with FCSS will help serve clients and support better social and educational outcomes and more promising futures for Taber, Vauxhall and area children and youth. “My involvement is to help support the Family School Liaison Counsellors within the schools. People requiring navigating through life transitions, developing new and existing skills, enhancing educational outcomes and social well being,” said Reid-Walker. According to Reid-Walker, the program was designed to provide consistent year-round, highly accessible counselling for children, youth, and families. Walker will be working out of four schools in the Horizon School Division including L.T. Westlake, Vauxhall Elementary School, Vauxhall High School, and D.A. Ferguson. This is a new initiative that started at the beginning of the school year, along with Regional Collaborative Service Delivery (RCSD) with Alberta Health Services (AHS) Mental Health. “I deal with mild to moderate things and they deal with more moderate to more high intensity issues — mental health things,” she explained. “It’s super early in the year, but I’ve done a lot of connecting with the counsellors,” she added. Walker noted the FSLCs and the child and youth care workers will do an assessment and then they will make a referral to Reid-Walker if they feel her skills are what are required. “I’ll be spending one day a week in each of the four schools and we will just see clients there that have been referred through the Horizon school counsellor program.” Reid-Walker said she is really excited to be collaborating in this manner. “I look forward to seeing how it develops.” Angela Miller, clinical team lead for the counselling team at the Horizon School Division, said counsellors at Horizon schools have big caseloads and counsellors can’t always get to the treatment part of counselling on a consistent basis. “A lot of times our counsellors are doing a lot more crisis management than they are actual counselling,” Miller explained. Miller noted the school division developed partnerships with outside agencies and counsellors from external sources that came into the school, after the school division made a referral.“ From Tanie’s perspective or from FCSS, she can do more of the consistent work in counselling with regards to maybe some family issues around grief and loss, social skills type of issues — just more consistent counselling she would be able to provide. And then the fact she would be able to come into the schools to do that helps remove some of the barriers for families getting to the clinic to go see somebody,” said Miller. A lot of times, for whatever reason, possible clients might not go into a clinic or can’t. “This way, Tanie can come into the schools and provide service, right there — because our schools really are the hubs of the communities,” Miller said. Last year, Horizon started partnering with AHS Mental Health and Addictions with a therapist from RCSD for therapy for complex mental health needs. “We just started that last year. That was going really well and this is just another tier we can offer,” Miller said, adding being able to offer family support is important, as it wasn’t available prior to this new initiative. “I see it working really well. We already have different situations and cases we’re going to be referring, so I think it’s going to work really well and it’s just removing barriers,” she said.