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A Canadian Military Gem: The Family Navigator Program

The Family Navigator Program for Canadian Military Families
The Family Navigator Program for Canadian Military Families
www.dravet.ca

One of the many things that make me exceptionally proud to be Canadian is our country operates on the Collective Society Belief (or “team”) system. Wikipedia.org. eloquently describes the philosophy of such a society: “Collectivism is any philosophic, political, economic or social outlook that emphasizes the interdependence of every human in some collective group and the priority of group goals over individual goals. Collectivists usually focus on community, society or nation. . . . “. This concept is not only role modeled in our citizens’ behaviors it’s also evident in our military thinking. To that end, the Canadian Armed Forces has endorsed a resource-based program for military families called the Family Navigator Program (“FNP”). The FNP is a nationwide program designed to assist Canadian Forces Families “navigate systems within their communities”.

Essentially, the FNP is supported by the Family Military Resource Centers (“FMRC”) nationwide and was initiated to act as a support system for Canadian Forces Families with familial issues such as: Relocation, Education needs (support systems for special needs children and children generally), elderly parents requiring support, operational injuries, issues surrounding deployment and lifestyle changes. It has also been developed to assist Canadian Forces Families in determining a direction to take when not certain just whom to call.

The FNP has developed an extensive website for Canadian Forces Families which is very user friendly and located at: http://www.familynavigator.ca/. The website contains a wealth of information and is broken down into many helpful categories. By way of example, the website contains a nationwide Military Base Locator map depicting all Canadian Military Bases and their respective local FMRCs. One need only click on the home province in which they reside or are relocating to and will then be taken to that province’s local FMRC’s contact information including a telephone number and the local FMRC’s website. For families seeking specific information there is a “Search by Topic” option listing Child Care, Relocation, et al and Community Resources and their respective subcategories. Clicking the Search by Topic icon then reroutes you to the nationwide map where local provincial resources may be found. Each information “portal” is broken down into subcategories of a particular interest or topic: (i.e. Child Care is broken down into “Choosing Child Care”, “Finding Child Care” and “Funding Child Care”. Likewise, “Community Resources”, is broken down into the subcategories: “Community Resources for Special Needs, Medical, Mental Health, Eldercare & Operational Injury by Base.” Again, you are rerouted to the nationwide map to select local community resources by province. This is an incredibly well organized cross-referenced website and much forethought and planning has gone into its’ design.

There is a “Tool Kit” section on the website that provides tool kits for not only Canadian Forces Families but also the professionals assisting them. The “Moving?” icon on the FNP website provides a didactic video loaded with facts and statistics Canadian Forces Families may find extremely helpful and reassuring (i.e. “Did you Know? Approximately 15,000 Canadian Forces Members move each year”?). Here, the greatest feature of the website shines: the “Navigator” which provides Canadian Forces Families complete insight on how to navigate a move or relocation from start to finish. It even provides an Action Plan and step-by-step instructions on how to use the Navigator. It helps Canadian Forces Families gather information about relocation and how to organize the family’s move. The Navigator also assists with familial issues such as health care, education and child care and provides extensive information about housing issues such as residential housing, buying a home v. renting a home. It enlightens CF Families about medical care issues such as finding a health provider, the variances in provincial coverages (as in the notion that “Each province administers their own Medical Service Plan”), how long your current province will continue health care coverage and the fact each province varies in outpatient treatment resources (i.e. some provinces have Walk-In Clinics while other provinces are limited). Finally, there is a Contact Form on the website if indeed a Forces Family has any additional questions, feedback or suggestions about improvement of the Family Navigator website.

The Family Navigator Program is truly a blessing and its’ website is an invaluable tool to assist Canadian Forces Families faced with the rigors of military lifestyle. The benefit and effects of the website are far reaching in that its bounty of information reduces the stress for not only Canadian Forces Families, the CFF parent, child and grandparent but also the single CAF member. This website speaks volumes about our Nation’s sense of unity and personifies the true essence and success of our Collective Society Belief System.

“My upbringing in Canada made me the person I am. I will always be proud to be a Canadian”. - Jim Carrey.

Article is © of Corinne Isaacs-Frontiero, 2014 With All Rights Reserved.