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Every parent has questions and our experts have answers. Read on:

There are 20 questions and answers.

1. Are you aware of any parenting classes in Winnipeg geared towards building skills for parenting adolescents? Can you recommend any counsellors who can assist in family therapy with an adolescent?

Parenting adolescents can certainly be challenging. There are a number of avenues you can pursue in looking for programs and assistance. Many are free or provided at low-cost while others are provided for a fee that is based on a percentage of your family income.

First, if your family has access to an Employee Assistance Program or Blue Cross through an employer, these plans may offer direct service or be able to cover costs for consultation and therapy. If you have such a plan, contact your plan provider for a list of qualifying service professionals.

Consider discussing your request with your family doctor. Your doctor may also be able to help you access services from a psychiatrist with a private practice or suggest other counselling services to you.

If the situation seems acute, Macdonald Youth Services runs the Youth Emergency Crisis Stabilization Service. Through that service you can be offered a telephone consultation and, following that, either support in your home or at the agency through the Brief Treatment Team. They can be reached at 204-949-4777.

If you are having concerns about your adolescent's mental health you may consider contacting the Centralized Intake Service of the Manitoba Adolescent Treatment Centre. This Intake Service can be reached at 204-958-9660. The intake worker will assist you in determining which program or service would be most helpful to you and your family.

For general therapy/counselling services across the city, the following agencies and organizations may prove helpful:

  • The Manitoba Psychological Society provides a listing of psychologists in private practice. Some services may be covered through Employee Assistance or Blue Cross. Access services through their website at: www.mps.ca.
  • Aurora Family Therapy Centre (University of Winnipeg) offers family therapy, charging on a sliding scale. Their number is 204-786-9251.
  • New Directions for Children, Youth, Adults, and Families is an agency that provides family counselling and parenting programs. These services are free and they can be reached at 204-786-7051.
  • KLINIC offers no-charge drop in counselling services (call 204-784-4067).
  • Women's Health Clinic – no-charge services (call 204-947-2422, extension 204).
  • Family Dynamics (formerly The Family Centre of Winnipeg) offers a range of counselling services, charged on a sliding scale. Family Dynamics can be reached at 204-947-1401.
  • The Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre offers a range of program services including parenting programs and youth programs (no charge). The Centre can be reached at 204-925-0300.
  • The Manitoba Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (MAMFT) provides a listing of marriage and family therapists. Costs vary depending on the therapist and should be checked with individual therapist. Visit the MAMFT website at: www.mamft.ca.
  • Psychological Services Centre at the University of Manitoba offers counselling services to the Winnipeg community (no charge). More information can be obtained by calling 204-474-9222.

There are also a number of community agencies serving various Winnipeg neighbourhoods that offer support to parents. Many of these offer parenting programs and services are usually free to low-cost. A few of these are:

  • South Winnipeg Family Information Centre: 204-284-9311
  • Nor'West Community Health Services: 204-782-8793
  • Military Family Resource Centre in St. James: 204-883-2500 (ext 4500)
  • Elmwood Community Resource Centre: 204-982-1720
  • Aulneau Renewal Centre: 204-987-7090
  • Mount Carmel Clinic: 204-582-2311

You may also want to consider talking with your school's guidance counsellor or school clinician (school psychologist or school social worker). They may also be able to suggest other services and agencies to you.

In deciding which services can best help you, please remember to let the agency know as specifically as possible what kind of assistance and support you are looking for and feel comfortable in asking them to describe the services that they offer in as detailed a way as possible.

We hope that the information that we have provided will prove helpful to you.

ManitobaParentZone.ca acknowledges the assistance of Healthy Child Manitoba and the Manitoba Association for Marriage and Family Therapy in responding to this question.

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2. My neighbour is my best friend. She is currently on social assistance and is a single mother of three kids. I watch her struggle day-to-day trying to be the best parent and provider for her kids. Her pre-teen boy is constantly suspended from school, doesn't listen to her, talks back, throws fits – he is out of control. I'm a mother and I know if this child does not get the help he needs now he will be another victim to a society that failed him. Are there any extra support for single parents like her? Are there any extracurricular activities? Financial supports?

Thank you for your questions. We asked one of our experts at the Child Protection Branch for their help with your questions. Our expert has provided the following:

Your friend can learn more about requesting financial support from the father of her daughters by contacting Manitoba's Family Conciliation Services. She can learn more about the services offered by Family Conciliation at the following link, which also provides contact information for the program: www.gov.mb.ca/fs/childfam/family_conciliation.html.

As you have mentioned that your friend receives Employment and Income Assistance (EIA), she may wish to speak to her EIA case worker as she will need to declare all sources of income, including those from child support payments.

There are a number of community resources located across the province to assist parents. Some programs offer specific assistance with parenting and others offer recreational opportunities for children and families. Your friend can learn more about the resources in the community where she lives by contacting the child and family services agency for her community (please use the map at the following link to determine which agency to call: www.gov.mb.ca/fs/childfam/dia_intake.html). In addition, Volunteer Manitoba keeps a centralized list of community resources, which you can review at this link: www.contactmb.org.

The school guidance counsellor will also be able to assist your friend in locating helpful community resources for her family's needs. Please encourage her to speak with her child's guidance counsellor to request assistance."

ManitobaParentZone.ca acknowledges the assistance of Family Services and Labour's Child Protection Branch in responding to this question.

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3. Is there a legal limit on how many kids can share one bedroom?

There is no legislation in Manitoba which specifies the number and ages of children allowed to share a bedroom, unless the children are in the care of a child and family services agency. In that situation, there are regulations about sleeping arrangements for children, as well as other safety features required in that home.

It is recommended that parents use common sense around sleeping arrangements for their children. As children grow older, it is recommended that girls and boys do not share bedrooms, and that children have privacy for changing and bathing. It is also expected that parents take into account the specific needs of each of their children, which may vary for different children. It is important that children learn appropriate boundaries and the right to privacy. This helps them to be aware if a boundary is crossed by someone in the future, and to know when they should seek help.

Of course, whatever arrangements you make should also be sure to include fire safety plans. All members of a family should know what the family fire escape plan is, including ways to safely leave the home and where the family will meet up in such an event. For more information on fire escape planning click on the following links or contact your local fire department:

ManitobaParentZone.ca acknowledges the assistance of Family Services and Labour's Child Protection Branch in responding to this question.

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4. My son will be 4 in a few weeks. He has been fully potty trained since he was 2.5-years-old but he has started having frequent poop accidents. I feel like I have tried everything. I have tried punishment, reward, frequent reminders – getting him to sit on the toilet and "try" to poop several times a day yet he still has accidents. He tells me that he can feel the poop in his body but doesn't want to stop playing to use the toilet. I get so angry and frustrated with him, and I feel like a total failure as a mom. I know I had problems with poop accidents when I was his age too - can this possibly be genetic? Any advice for getting through this?

Older children soiling their pants is a problem that many parents are concerned about and is much more common in boys than in girls. It can occur more in children with a strong sense of privacy or a strong tendency to concentrate on an activity to the point that they are unwilling to stop long enough to use the toilet. It may also be the result of changes in your child's diet or other routine changes.

This is an issue that can be so frustrating for both the parent and the child. This may especially be the case if the child has been trained but then slips back. It's important to know that your child is not doing this on purpose or with the intention of upsetting you. By understanding why this unpleasant problem occurs, you can help your child master his bowel habits.

There are many reasons for why this may happen to a child who is already potty-trained. When a child is regularly going to the toilet when he needs to soil, his brain, body sensations and timing are working together. It could be that the child is not listening to the signals, either because he's too busy or he just can't interpret what his bowels and brain are saying. This can start a vicious cycle of the child not listening to or understanding the signals, or waiting too long to go – leading to either an accident or constipation.

Create a diary with your child every time it happens. This may help both of you determine if there is a pattern involved. For instance, he may learn that this is happening when he is very involved in play and doesn't want to stop.

Some children are embarrassed about toileting. Rather than let their playmates know they have to go to the toilet or ask the teacher to go to the bathroom, they ignore bowel signals. Impress upon your child that toileting is as normal as eating. Everyone does it.

Some children don't want to "waste time" going to the toilet. Rather than stopping to go, expending the effort to go all the way to the toilet, get undressed, redressed, and re enter play, the child ignores his body signals. It may help to have simple elastic waistbands on pants and shorts.

Finally, the child could have constipation or another kind of physical blockage that requires some medical attention. Talking with your pediatrician may help you identify what the issues may be, enabling you to come up with a plan to treat it.

ManitobaParentZone.ca acknowledges the assistance of Healthy Child Manitoba in responding to this question.

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5. My two grandchildren are in foster care. The foster parents are wonderful and I have no issues with them whatsoever. I have access to the children and would love to be their foster parent even though they are well cared for. They very much want to live with Gramma, too. I work full time and cannot afford to quit work entirely but have given serious thought to applying to foster them. How can I find out more information about being a foster parent to my grandchildren?

Experts from Family Services and Labour's Child Protection Branch have provided the following response to your question:

Thank you for your enquiry about exploring the possibility of becoming a foster placement for your grandchildren.

I encourage you to speak with your grandchildren's social worker to discuss your interest and to request more information. I am not certain if you have previously talked with their worker about the possibility of you applying to be their placement. The worker can talk with you in more detail about what the process looks like to become a licensed foster home, as well as whether the agency would consider moving the children from their current placement.

There are standard basic daily rates paid to foster parents, but the actual amount for each child may vary depending on whether a child has special needs that require more expertise and active care, or if there is a need for respite.

You may find it helpful to discuss this in more detail with the Manitoba Foster Family Network, which is a non-profit organization that provides support, training and assistance to foster parents in Manitoba. You can see more information about this organization on line at www.mffn.ca, or you can call them at (204)940-1280 or 1-866-458-5650.

Regardless of your final decision on whether to apply to be a foster parent to your grandchildren, you obviously value your contact and visits with them. Positive and healthy relationships with family members can be a very important part of development for children, especially children in care.

ManitobaParentZone.ca acknowledges the assistance of Family Services and Labour's Child Protection Branch in responding to this question.

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6. I have a 2 month old baby and he doesn't sleep through the night. He is exclusively breast fed and his longest stretch of sleep is 5 hours. I am trying to establish a bed time routine; I bathe him, massage him, feed him, and put him to bed by 8:30 pm. Some of my friends' babies sleep through the night and I wonder if I am doing anything wrong. Therefore, here are my questions:
  1. How can I maximize my little one's sleep especially at night?
  2. Am I doing something wrong/ should I be doing anything differently?
  3. At what age do babies usually start sleeping through the night?
  4. When my friends find out that my baby doesn't sleep through the night, they always suggest that I may be doing something wrong and always end up giving me tons of advice. It was all fine in the beginning, but it is starting to get to me. How can I respond in a way that will stop this but not hurt them at the same time?

A two-month-old baby will usually sleep 14 to 18 hours per day for 3 to 4 hours at a time. It is important to realize that it is normal and healthy for babies to wake up during the night to feed at this age and it is not recommended to impose a sleep schedule on a newborn. As your baby gets older he will stay awake longer during the day and sleep for longer stretches at night. Many babies between 4 to 6 months will still require a night feed and this is normal. Often by 6 months your baby will be sleeping longer at night but waking up early in the morning to feed, and some babies will continue to wake up at night.

Responding promptly to your infants cries and comforting him will help him to feed and then go back to sleep without causing your infant to become upset and aroused and will help to maximize your little one's sleep. Keep the lights dim during night feeds and diaper changes to avoid added stimulation. Remember to always place your infant on his back to sleep.

Having a night time routine is a good start towards helping your infant develop good sleeping habits. Think of your night time routine as part of a progression to helping your baby sleep through the night. Having a routine helps your baby to learn the cues about when it is time to sleep. As well as your night time routine you may notice that your baby has a more regular nap schedule during the day at approximately 3 months old. Day time napping actually helps a baby to sleep better at night as it will prevent your baby from being overtired.

Regarding your friend's advice, you must first remember that it is your baby–and you know your child best. It is rarely worth losing a friendship over a well-meaning person's comments, so you can choose to respond in a few different ways. Listen to your friend–she may just be trying to share what she feels is a valuable insight. If you know that you do not want to get into a disagreement about her ideas, just listen and be non-committal about the topic. Another option is to educate yourself about the topic from reputable books or professionals. If your friend comments, you can then say "My public health nurse or health care provider said that it is normal for a two month old infant to wake at night to feed and that you should respond to your baby." You could also be honest with your friend and say, "I know you mean well with the advice that you have given me, but I'm comfortable with my own approach, and I'd really appreciate if you will support me and understand that."

If you are still concerned about your infant's sleep patterns or if you want to understand more about how to support good sleep habits for your infant you should talk to your infant's public health nurse or health care provider. They can provide you with more information about normal growth and development and will be able to provide you a more detailed answer about your concerns.

To learn more about your baby and his care needs, and to connect with other new moms in your community you may wish to attend a Healthy Baby Community Support program in your area. These programs are community based and offered free of charge on a drop in basis. To learn more about the Healthy Baby Community Support Programs, use these links to find locations in Winnipeg or outside Winnipeg.

ManitobaParentZone.ca acknowledges the assistance of Healthy Child Manitoba in responding to this question.

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7. Our family has been in Canada for five years now. I have two teenage children who are still under 18. They grew up healthy and smart – we have been one happy family. I think my two children are being brainwashed by a religious group and we can't stop them from attending this bible study even though we do not approve. As a parent I do not have not anything against any kind of religion but my children should decide on their own once they reach 18 years old, so my concerns are as follows:
  1. What kind of service department in Winnipeg can we talk to about this and help us to convince our children or the group church leader to stop them from recruiting under-aged members especially without permission of the parents?
  2. Do you think the police department could take care of this complaint once I reported this kind of issue?
  3. Do I have any rights to stop my children in attending this bible study if not physically?

Thank you for your questions. We want to provide as much helpful information as we can when citizens share with us their important concerns. Sometimes the situations described and questions raised are quite sensitive and complicated. Some questions require more specific help than we can provide through a website or e-mail service such as ours. We would like to recommend that you consider finding in-person help with the family matters you described. Trained family counsellors can help families with their difficult discussions and can work with your family to find solutions.

You have asked if we think the police department might address the complaints you have described above. Again, while it is difficult to provide you with specific direction, it is possible that the police may also suggest family counselling to help sort through this situation.

One of our volunteer ParentZone experts, who is a professional family therapist, has provided the following comments in response to your questions:

"It sounds like you are experiencing a problem very common in families a few years after they settle here–the children in the family tend to jump into their new world and begin to feel a part of it more quickly than their parents do. Parents naturally want to protect their children and are more cautious than the children who, especially when they become teenagers, want so much to fit in and be like their Canadian friends that they often put this need to blend-in ahead of listening to their parents. This naturally sparks parent/child conflict which, as you say, can feel like the family bonds are being broken.

In Canadian culture children have more freedom to make their own decisions than in many other cultures. So part of a family adjusting to their new home must be finding a way to blend the traditional ways with the new way. You can, as you say, try to use non-physical means to prevent your children to go to the bible study, but this seems likely to heighten the conflict and further threaten family bonds. Perhaps your best approach for now would be keep talking to your children about what they are learning and why it is important to them to be going there–that way you will know what they are being taught and can share your own beliefs and values with them. At the same time you can watch to make sure their school performance is not being impacted negatively by their spending time in bible study."

In Winnipeg, family counselling is offered on a sliding scale by Aurora Family Therapy Centre (telephone 204-786-9251) and by New Directions for Children, Youth, Adults and Families (telephone 204-786-7051 ext. 5262). There may be waiting lists for these services. The Manitoba Association for Marriage and Family Therapy provides a helpful guide on finding a therapist in Manitoba at the following link:

ManitobaParentZone.ca acknowledges the assistance of a volunteer Family Therapist Consultant and the Manitoba Association for Marriage and Family Therapy.

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8. For what reasons can a parent be barred from their child's school?

Under subsection 48(1)(s) of The Public Schools Act (PSA), school boards have the authority to decide who is allowed to enter schools as visitors. This includes the authority to set criteria for parental access to schools or classrooms. As school boards are required to ensure a safe environment for students and staff, they have the authority to determine who has access to schools. There is no automatic right of access to schools by the public, including parents.

The principal is in charge of the school in respect of all matters of organization, management, instruction and discipline. [Manitoba Regulation 468/88, subsection 28(1)].

If you have concerns about this particular situation, and if you have not already done so, it is suggested that you contact senior administration at the school division office or the board of trustees for this school division for further clarification.

Manitoba Education has a number of online resources, including the guide called Working Together: A Guide to Positive Problem Solving for Schools, Families, and Communities. The purpose of this guide is to give everyone – parents, educators, and community members alike – the information to take part in the co-operative, creative problem-solving process of informal dispute resolution. Should your situation call for formal dispute resolution, you can find helpful information on this process in Working Together: A Parent's Guide to Formal Dispute Resolution.

ManitobaParentZone.ca acknowledges the assistance of Manitoba Education in responding to this question.

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9. My baby is going to be 3 months old this coming February. Should I get her a health card number for her own? In the hospital they used my health card. Should I apply for her?

To ensure that your newborn child is registered for Manitoba Health coverage and to avoid being billed directly for medical services, please be sure to notify Manitoba Health about your baby's birth. The Manitoba Health General Inquiries phone number is 204-786-7101 and toll-free phone number is 1-800-392-1207 (Monday – Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., excluding holidays).

At the time of your phone call, if Manitoba Health has already received information about your baby's birth, they will send you an updated Manitoba Health medical card, which will now have your infant's name on it.

If Manitoba Health has not yet received information about your baby's birth, you must notify Manitoba Health in writing of the birth of your child, and also provide a photocopy of your newborn's birth certificate. The application form for ordering a birth certificate from the Vital Statistics agency for your child can also be found in the birth registration envelope or online at Vital Statistics Agency - Certificate Applications. Manitoba Health will then send you an updated Manitoba Health medical card. The mailing address is Manitoba Health, 300 Carlton Street, Winnipeg, Manitoba, R3B 3M9.

ManitobaParentZone.ca acknowledges the assistance of the Insured Benefits Branch of Manitoba Health and the Vital Statistics Agency in responding to this question.

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10. I think my children are being bullied by their music teacher and I'm getting the impression that the principal is more concerned with protecting this staff member than the children. What types of teacher behaviour is considered bullying?

When there is a dispute between parents and school staff it is always best if the issues are discussed by the people most closely involved. This means going first to the teacher and if you are not comfortable or satisfied with this then the next step would be to go to the school administrator. If you still feel the issue has not been resolved, the next step would be going to the division administration; this would be the superintendent in your school division.

Most school divisions have a process that outlines what a parent should do if they have a concern. You can check your local school division website or call the school division and ask for a copy.

For further information, please click on the following links:

ManitobaParentZone acknowledges the assistance of Manitoba Education in responding to this question.

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11. What is the age that a child may legally sleep in a basement bedroom?

There is no specific age set out in Manitoba law that identifies when a child may or may not sleep in a basement bedroom. However, there are a number of very important factors to consider before making the decision about whether your child is ready to sleep in a basement bedroom.

First, there are developmental and emotional factors to consider. As we all know, the temperament, personality and emotional make-up of a person can greatly affect the way they respond to different situations. For one child, moving in to a basement bedroom at 10 years of age might be quite welcome and provide the child with the kind of independence that s/he might be looking forward to. For another child, moving into a basement at the age of 12 years might create some feelings of anxiety and not be welcomed at all. As a result, when deciding whether to move a child into a basement bedroom, it is important to consider the age, personality and developmental stage of the individual child.

Understanding how your child may feel about the move and how s/he feels about being separated from the rest of the family is another important factor to consider. While most children will adjust to new situations eventually, the separation may not be advisable if it creates fear or feelings of isolation and loneliness. This may be an even greater consideration if the child is still very young. A baby monitor can help parents listen for signs that their child may need help or support. Baby monitors can be particularly helpful when a child becomes sick or needs some other kind of help.

When making your decision about whether your child is old enough to move into a basement bedroom, it's also important to consider your child's personality and temperament and to anticipate how s/he may respond in an emergency situation. Recognize that if there is a fire in your home, it is possible that you or another adult may not be able to reach the child to help him/her exit the home safely. In an emergency situation, will your child be able to follow the fire escape plan on their own? Do they have the physical strength required to follow the plan, particularly if it includes, for example, leaving through a window? Is the child the type to panic or is s/he more likely to stay calm and follow the plan?

In addition to these child behaviour considerations, parents should also consider fire safety. Does your family have a home fire escape plan? Does everyone in the home, including your child, understand the plan and know what to do in case of a fire? The Fire Department urges you to create, share and practise a home fire escape plan with all members of your family on a regular basis.

Here are some basic tips to help you develop a home fire escape plan:

  • Install smoke alarms on each floor of your home and test them regularly.
  • Install a carbon monoxide detector on all levels of your home and especially near bedrooms.
  • Draw a floor plan of your home showing all possible exits from each room.
  • Where possible, plan a main exit route and an alternate exit route from each room.
  • Make certain that everyone understands that if they hear the smoke detector, or hear someone shouting 'fire' they should immediately evacuate the home.
  • Decide on a meeting place outside your home. In case of a fire, go to the meeting place. Someone should be sent to phone the fire department immediately.
  • Meet the firefighters when they arrive.
  • Make certain that everyone in your home knows not to re-enter a burning building. Firefighters are properly equipped and trained to perform rescue operations.

Additional Information:

Before opening any door on the way out, feel it. If the door is hot – do not open – use the alternate exit. A properly installed and maintained smoke alarm should provide enough warning to enable you to safely leave your home. In a smoke-filled area, the best air is down low, below the smoke. Practise your escape plan by crawling on your hands and knees. If anyone in your home is unable to evacuate without assistance, assign someone to assist them. Make sure your baby sitter understands your fire-escape plan.

Regular practice is the best way to help prevent panic. This is especially true for children. Be sure that every family member knows what to do.

Common Causes of Fire:

  • Kitchen grease fires
  • Smokers' materials
  • Electrical, fuses, loose connections, short or overloaded circuits
  • Misuse of flammable liquids, greases, oils and waxes

For more information on fire escape planning click on the following links or contact your local fire department:

ManitobaParentZone acknowledges the assistance of the Manitoba Office of the Fire Commissioner and Healthy Child Manitoba in responding to this question.

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12. Is it legal for a school teacher or an educational assistant to follow around a child every day and not let them play with certain children?

Generally speaking, it is a parent who is the legal caregiver of their child. The child's parent(s) makes the important decisions regarding their child including decisions relating to the child's education, health and religion. A parent has legal custody of their child and this refers to all the rights and duties related to the care of a child.

However in our society, parents sometimes delegate their decision making authority regarding their child to authorized third parties such as school officials who deal with the child on a regular basis. For this reason, school officials, such as a principal or a class teacher, may have legal authority to make certain day to day educational decisions regarding a child who is a student under their charge during their attendance at school.

If a parent disagrees with a decision or approach that a teacher or educational assistant has implemented with respect to their child, the parent should first discuss the issue with their child's teacher or school principal to see if the problem can be resolved through this manner. If the parent is not satisfied with the outcome of the matter after having discussed it with their child's school representatives, they can consider contacting their local school division to discuss the school's position.

For further information, please look at the following links on the ManitobaParentZone.ca website:

The attached links provide a lot of helpful information on how parents can approach problem solving of difficult issues with their school officials. An excerpt from the first link indicates the following:

What if the school and parents do not agree on decisions that are made about the student or the programming that the school provides?

Part of the parent's role includes advocating for her or his child. If parents are not satisfied with a school decision, they have the right and a responsibility to share their concerns with those involved with the decision.

Working Together: A Guide to Positive Problem Solving

The first step is communication between the teacher and the parent. Often, this will be enough to clarify the situation and reach a common understanding. Should this not be the case, however, the next step would be to involve the principal. Most issues are dealt with effectively at this level to the satisfaction of all. However, if an agreement is still not possible, concerns may be brought to the attention of senior school division administration. A parent has the right to address the elected board of trustees with his or her concerns. Parents can also contact the school division office if they would like to bring an issue to the attention of the board of trustees.

ManitobaParentZone.ca acknowledges the assistance of the Family Law Branch of Manitoba Justice in responding to this question.

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13. Can a school division tell u that your child has to go to a different school if there are 3 schools in the same division? And do we not have the school of choice??

The Public Schools Act (PSA), section 58.2, establishes that every school board shall designate a school to which a resident student is entitled to attend. A designated school is generally the closest school to the student's residence within their home school division which offers the most appropriate education required by the student and which has available space.

Should a parent wish to have their child(ren) attend a school other than the designated school, pupils are enrolled in the following order of priority:

  • Students designated to attend that school,
  • Students residing in the school division, and
  • Other Manitoba students.

The Schools of Choice initiative facilitates parental/student choice, within limits, in selecting the public school best suited to the student's learning requirements.

Only those students who qualify under "right to attend school" legislation may exercise choice. School of Choice application forms are available at public schools. There are deadlines for the submission and approval of Schools of Choice applications.

More information about responsibilities and obligations of parents, students and schools as they relate to Schools of Choice can be found at: Schools in Manitoba: Schools of Choice.

ManitobaParentZone.ca acknowledges the assistance of Manitoba Education in responding to this question.

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14. How old should a baby be before taking them swimming? I don't mean lessons either. I mean floating around in the pool at our apartment or floating at our cabin?

There is much debate on this subject, even amongst medical experts. An internet search of your question will provide dozens of answers with thousands of differing comments and opinions on the subject. We believe the answer is more related to the child's care than their specific age.

It is a great idea to enjoy time with your child in, on or around water, but we emphasize that when doing so, your sole focus is to be like your child's lifeguard. A child should never be left unattended, it is suggested that an adult be with a child at all times when near or in the water.

A suggestion would be to initially introduce a baby to warm water in a bath tub, getting them well accustomed to additional sounds and possibly water splashing on their face, which is something new they're about to encounter. While there is no precise age as to when specifically you can take an infant into pools or lakes, there are precautions to be followed.

When introducing an infant to either a pool or lake, remember that an infant will be easily affected by the water's cooler temperatures and their tiny bodies can chill easily. Because of this, time in the water must be closely monitored and should be limited. Spas or hot tubs will have an opposite effect, easily causing overheating in a baby, and are considered off limits for all children.

Remember to never let an infant out of your grip as even a momentary lapse can result in the child's submersion, with their potential of ingesting water into the airway. Infants must always be held; never presume they will float. Do not rely on floating devices for their assistance. The concern is that an infant can swallow water they are placed in. This may lead to health problems from various pool chemicals or lake water bacteria. Should an infant contract an infection causing diarrhea, they can experience dehydration that can sometimes be severe. If your child develops diarrhea or vomiting it could be related to an infection. A child with diarrhea or vomiting can experience dehydration that can sometimes be severe. If this occurs, it is important to consult your health care provider.

Points to remember can be summarized in the acronym HELP: Head's up, Extreme care, Limited time, Practice safety.

ManitobaParentZone thanks The Lifesaving Society – Manitoba Branch for their assistance with this answer. Additional Water Smart® information can be found on their website www.lifesaving.mb.ca.

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15. I was wondering if the province offers a family counsellor for free to talk to. I feel our family could use counselling.

Making the decision to try family counselling can be the first step towards positive changes for your family. In Winnipeg, family counselling is offered for free by New Directions for Children, Youth, Adults and Families (telephone 786-7051 ext. 5262), The Family Centre of Winnipeg ( telephone 947-1401), and University of Manitoba Psychological Service Centre (telephone 474-9222). There may be waiting lists for these services.

If your questions or concerns are about parenting or your children's behaviour, you can also consider calling the Triple P Parent Line at 204-945-4777 or toll-free 1-877-945-4777 to speak to a qualified counsellor over the telephone. This is a great option regardless of where you live in Manitoba. Counsellors are available Monday to Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

If anyone in your family is making threats of suicide or talking about hurting others, you should get help right away by calling 911 or going to your local emergency room to speak to a mental health professional.

ManitobaParentZone.ca acknowledges the assistance of Healthy Child Manitoba and Family Services and Labour in responding to this question.

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16. Your early years child comes home from school with a report card, excited to show it to you. How should you talk to them about their report card, a) overall, and b) in the areas where they could use some improvement?

Report card time can feel like an emotional time for both parents and children. Especially in the early years, you might still be getting used to the idea of your child's progress being graded. It is important that you are in contact with your child's teacher throughout the year, so that the information that is on your child's report card will not be a surprise to you. Children benefit when there is a partnership between teachers and parents. Frequent and open communication between home and school supports your child's learning, and keeps you in touch with what is happening in the classroom.

Early years children might not be too interested in actual grades. They will probably be more excited and proud that they have learned a new skill. This kind of information is found in the teacher comment section of the report card. This is a great opportunity for parents to talk to their child about his or her strengths and areas of growth in a very positive way, while avoiding placing too much pressure on the child. It is helpful to be very specific when providing feedback to your child. For example, rather than praise him or her for getting a high grade, you could try telling your child that the teacher thinks your child is a terrific reader!

While progress reports are meaningful, it is important to remember that the report card is a snapshot of where the child is right now in their development as a learner, and that things can change. Children progress at their own unique rates, and will always show strengths in some areas and challenges in others. Even if there is some disappointing information, the parent should be encouraged to look for areas of progress and improvement since the last report card - it is very important to celebrate that growth!

If there are areas that your child could improve upon, there are things you can do to help. Try to discuss any areas of concern very concretely with your child. If your child is not finishing work on time, talk about that behaviour and brainstorm some ideas with your child about what he or she might do differently. For example, the colouring work needs to come after the printing work is done. This is another opportunity for you to connect with the school. Your child's teacher will likely be happy to share fun strategies that you can use at home to support classroom learning. At the same time, the parent can share his or her own observations about the child. Teachers often really appreciate a parent's insights and feedback, as it helps them to understand the child's learning needs.

All children are different, and each child has unique strengths and challenges both in the classroom and in the larger world. It is helpful to remind your child that she does not need to be perfect in every subject. More importantly, it is important that your child always tries to do his or her best. And, remember to give your child your unconditional love and support, regardless of report card outcomes.

You may wish to explore the following websites for other helpful tips:

ManitobaParentZone.ca acknowledges the assistance of the Manitoba Education in responding to this question.

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17. My family is interested in providing a foster home for some children. What is the government support available for such services?

Thank you for your inquiry into fostering in Manitoba. As you may know, foster homes in Manitoba are licensed by Child and Family Services (CFS) Agencies.

Foster families receive a variety of supports from CFS agencies, including financial support for the care of foster children and direct agency support in the form of agency staff working with foster homes and establishing a sound working relationship with the home. Foster parents may also receive support in the form of foster parent training and development to assist in acquiring practical and relevant information related to fostering.

Manitoba's Department of Family Services (the Department) also provides supports for foster parents in Manitoba. The Manitoba Foster Family Network (MFFN) is funded to provide a variety of supports and services to foster parents, including peer support services and training and education opportunities. You may wish to contact MFFN at (204) 940-1280 for more information about services offered. The Department also offers two foster parent programs: the Intentional Damage Compensation Plan and the Legal Aid Assistance Plan for Foster Parents.

More information on foster parenting is available at Manitoba Family Services or by calling 1-888-995-JOIN (5646). Alternatively, you may also contact your local child and family services provider. A worker will explain the foster program to you in detail and answer any specific questions you may have. A list of all mandated CFS agencies can be found here.

Manitoba Parent Zone acknowledges the assistance of Manitoba Family Services' Child Protection Branch in responding to this question.

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18. I have a 4 year old daughter, her dad lives in another country and was not present during her birth. He is not listed on her birth certificate, as he was not present during the time of her birth & registration. In the past, the decision to add him has not been pursued because it is easier to apply for passports & other government documents when just one parent's signature is required. However, in order to apply for a Visitors Visa for her father, we need a proof of parent or family relationship – aka birth certificate. What is the best way or most efficient to add her father to her birth certificate? As well, he is located in the outside of the country.

Thank you for your question.

  1. Mother must send Vital Statistics Agency a letter stating her request to add the father to the child's birth registration and include the following information:
    • Father's Legal Last Name and Given Name(s)
    • Father's date of birth
    • Father's place of birth
    • First Nations Band Name(if applicable)
    • Treaty Number(if applicable)
  2. Mother must include all previously issued birth certificates; they become invalid once the birth registration is amended.
  3. Once above documentation is received, Vital Statistics Agency will send a "Joint Request to Register Father" form to the mother; her signature is required and must be witnessed by someone 18 years of age or older.
  4. The mother can then forward that form to the father for his signature; his signature must be witnessed by someone 18 years of age or older.
  5. Then the mother completes an Application for a Manitoba Birth Document requesting a birth certificate with parents names.
  6. The completed forms: including the signed Joint Request to Register Father and the Application for Manitoba Birth Document must be sent to Vital Statistics Agency with the payment of prescribed fees ($30 per certificate for a replacement birth certificate + $30 statutory amendment fee).

After Vital Statistics Agency receives all of the above and confirms that it is in order, Agency staff will amend the birth registration and process the application for the requested birth certificate(s).

For more specific information, we encourage you to contact the Vital Statistics Agency at 204-945-9701/1-866-949-9296 (in Canada) or via email to vitalstats@gov.mb.ca

Manitoba Parent Zone acknowledges the assistance of the Vital Statistics Agency in responding to your question.

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19. Who is responsible for filing a child's birth certificate in Manitoba if the father and mother are not married?

First of all, we would like to point out that there is a difference between a Registration of Birth and a Certificate of Birth.

A registration of birth form is usually completed by the mother in the hospital; signed by a hospital official and sent to Vital Statistics Agency to register the birth event.

If parents are not married, both parents must sign the Registration of Birth to register the father.

A certificate of birth is issued by Vital Statistics Agency only if the birth event has been registered. Either the mother or registered father can apply for a Certificate of Birth.

For more specific information, we encourage you to contact the Vital Statistics Agency at 204-945-9701/1-866-949-9296 (in Canada) or via email to vitalstats@gov.mb.ca.

ManitobaParentZone.ca acknowledges the assistance of the Vital Statistics Agency in responding to your question.

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20. I am marrying a woman from another country who is currently in Canada on a visitor's visa. She would like her 10 year old son to attend school this calendar year. What is the quickest way for him to attend school?

To attend a public school in Manitoba without fee, a student must meet the qualifications under The Public Schools Act (PSA) that result in a "right to attend".

This means the student must be a resident pupil as defined under subsection 1(1) of the Act: 'resident pupil' is a pupil "...whose parent or legal guardian, with whom he resides, is a resident therein..."

'Legal guardian' as defined under the Act means a person appointed or recognized as the guardian of a child under The Child and Family Services Act or The Court of Queen's Bench Surrogate Practice Act.

A parent or legal guardian is a Canadian citizen or a person with landed immigrant status.

Your future step son does not currently meet the definition of a resident pupil because you are currently not his legal guardian or parent. As a result, the child does not have the right to attend a public school without fee. However, while a public school would not be obligated to enrol the child, they would likely do so if the family is willing to pay a non-resident tuition fee. The amount of this fee differs by school division.

There are 37 school divisions in Manitoba. Six encompass the city of Winnipeg.

Alternatively, the family may wish to look at the option of enrolling their child in a private (independent) school. Tuition fees in private schools vary by school. A listing of all public and independent schools in Manitoba is available at Manitoba Education – Schools in Manitoba.

Finally, if you have your chief place of residence in a school division and become the child's legal guardian or become a parent to the child via adoption, the child would then meet the definition of "resident pupil" under the Act and have a right to attend a Manitoba public school without fee. At the point where the child's mother achieves landed immigrant status or Canadian Citizenship, her son would then also become a resident pupil of the school division in which she is living with you.

Once again we thank you for your question and we hope that the above information is helpful to you.

ManitobaParentZone.ca acknowledges the assistance of the Education Administrative Services Branch of Manitoba Education and Advanced Learning in responding to your question.

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