Opokaa'sin Early Intervention Society


History of Opokaa'sin Early Intervention Society

Opokaa'sin Early Intervention Society was a joint initiative created in 1996 by various Aboriginal Service agencies that shared a commitment to improving the well-being of all Aboriginal children. Opokaa'sin's founders had a theory of the prevention that could best to described as "anchoring". This anchoring consisted of children finding trusting adults who would provide coping supports, lifelines that would nurture their cultural identity and self-esteem. These supportive relationships with grandparents and elders would decrease anti-social behaviours and increase social competency, thus fostering resiliency in children. the creation of these coping resources formed the basis of subsequent Opokaa'sin programs and services.

Over the years, Opokaa'sin has adapted to meet the challenging needs of the urban Aboriginal population which it serves. In 2002, Opokaa'sin was awarded a Family Preservation Program contract with Southwest Child and Family Services. This contract was for a child-welfare mandated program aimed at providing family support, transportation, and supervised visits to clients that were currently having child protection or intervention status. This program also included providing Youth Mentorship with specific attention to cultural intervention for Aboriginal children who were in care (foster home placements).

In 2004, Opokaa'sin received a contract through the Persons with Developmental Disabilities Community Board to provide cultural services to Aboriginal persons with developmental disabilities in southern Alberta. This program was to provide culturally appropriate services for both the urban and rural sectors. The urban area is provided with day programming featuring cultural programs twice per month, while the rural area focuses on coordinating and providing support to Aboriginal persons with developmental disabilities in accessing basic services and programming. 
In 2005, Opokaa'sin began providing Parenting and Preschool programming through an established partnership with Family Centre and the Alberta Parent Link initiative. In 2012, Opokaa'sin began providing Aboriginal head start services under the Atan Early Learning program. This program, funded by Health Canada, provides preschool programming within a cultural context for Aboriginal children ages 3-5 years of age. Under the Early Intervention department, Opokaa'sin now offers diverse programming geared to community members such as After School Program, parent/child play groups, traditional parenting seminars and prenatal classes (in conjunction with Alberta Health Services). As an Aboriginal child and family services agency, Opokaa'sin now provides a continuum of professional services that focus on the culturally appropriate programs and services. 

Opokaa'sin is recognized as a credible provider of Aboriginal services, and as a leader in initiating and developing strong and successful collaborative relationships with other community agencies. Over time, Opokaa'sin has developed a reputation for excellence and innovation, and the organization is becoming known in Alberta and outside the province as a model for Aboriginal services providers.

Opokaa'sin will remain pro-active and visionary to ensure that its programs and services continue to meet the needs of Aboriginal children and families in their service area.