Hub of activity

Hayden Liu, 2, and Emma Butz, 1, at the new family hub at Pearson Road Elementary School, which officially opened on Friday.

Families in the Rutland area now have a central place to access services from parenting resources to health care.

The new Central Okanagan Family Hub officially opened inside Pearson Road Elementary School on Friday morning.

The hub will serve as a place for families and caregivers to drop in for information about support and services in the community.

“The intention is not to duplicate the services that are out there, but to make sure those services are reached by the families who need them,” said Ellen Boelcke, executive director for Kelowna Community Resources.

“When a family is needing services, we find those services in the community and bring them in.”

The hub is staffed by two employees, who will help families identify the services they need and arrange for those services to come to the hub, if needed.

“There’s really over 300 services that are offered in Kelowna, and that’s very overwhelming for anybody,” said Rob Zoppi, principal of Pearson Road Elementary. “(Families) need assistance in actually navigating the system, because it’s very daunting.”

This hub is the first of its kind in Kelowna, and Rutland was the perfect location for it, said Boelcke.

“When we looked at where services are now, most of the agencies are located outside of the Rutland area,” she said.

“We thought, this is an under-served community that really would appreciate having something like this.”

As the hub grows, Boelcke would like to see it expand to other neighbourhoods.

“In an ideal world, we would love to have something like the hub in every one of our communities," she said.

While the hub model has been done around the province before, the partnership with the local health authority makes this one unique, said Dr. Stan Szombathy, medical adviser for the hub.

“Health has to be involved with education and family development,” he said.

“Under the current model, where a family gets referred to a doctor or a pediatrician, there are wait times involved. This hub model brings us all together to the same table, so that if there’s a complex problem that involves more than one ministry, we have a much better chance of solving it.”

There will not be a doctor or nurse on site at all times, but there is a medical room at the hub, said Szombathy.

“If there is a need for a medical examination here, we’ll make arrangements to come.”

The United Way Central and South Okanagan is contributing $97,000 to the hub annually for three years.

The provincial government provided $52,000, the City of Kelowna provided $9,550 and the Central Okanagan Foundation provided a training grant of $1,400.

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