A Visit to Capitol Hill 

By Brandon McNeil, Wood’s Homes Communications Co-ordinator 

National Child Day is November 20 and this year’s celebration marks the 30th anniversary of Canada’s ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. 

Wood’s Homes, as an agency, has many ties to this day through its work in the 40+ programs and services we provide. 

Recently, I paid my first visit to Capitol Hill, a program that works with children under 12. This home in the community is a short-term safe refuge for these little ones who are behaviourally at-risk and have broken down or are at risk of breaking down their current caregiver placements. 

Program Team Leader Stacey Gignac was kind enough to open her doors for a walk around and meet-and-greet with her eight staff. Capitol Hill has a few different things that make it stand out from the rest of the programs at Wood’s Homes. 

Family-centred care is a primary focus at Capitol Hill, says Stacey. “I think that Capitol Hill has come a long way in getting these kids to move back home with their parents, or kinship placements, or adoptive parents. We’ve been doing a lot of work with two of our kids right now who are slated to go home to their natural family and we’ve been doing a lot of work to try and get them home.” 

This year’s theme National Child Day is The Right to Survive and Thrive, which affirms that children have a right to access what they need to develop to the fullest extent possible. The Capitol Hill program is doing some fantastic work in being able to accomplish that, even when considering that some of the placements they have aren’t originally set out to be long-term. There are only ever up to four children in the program at any given time, which enables Stacey and her team to build a more personal setting for biological family members. 

“I know that they do the residential work in the family treatment programs as well and it’s quite intensive for them, too. But here, we can bring the parents into the home. They get to do tuck-ins with the kids,” Stacey said. “They can cook. They can sit down and have dinner with the kids. It can be more like a family environment setting for them to spend time together.” 

The general environment, plus the level of trust and commitment that has been built among the staff at Capitol Hill, has meant that the team has remained the same for the past 18 months, despite the trying COVID-riddled times. 

For more information on children and youth, including the impact of the COVID-19 era on kids and some interesting statistics on child care during the pandemic, visit here or here. Feel encouraged to also visit the National Child Day (Calgary) page for even more events and information.