While Langley Community Services Society (LCSS) counsellor Wangari Kamande was being interviewed about the services the agency provides for parents dealing with children, she was asked what her own childhood was like.
“It wasn’t perfect,” she said.
“But I had a really lovely mother (who) wasn’t perfect, but she was very loving and empathetic and I think that has impacted me deeply.”
Kamande grew up to acquire a masters degree in counseling psychology.
“I’ve always had it in mind that I wanted to do something with parents,” she said.
She is one of several counsellors at LCSS who are available to help Langley parents free of charge.
The society assists nearly 2,000 individuals couples and families every year.
“A lot of issues people are dealing with as adults kind of are rooted in their childhood,” Kamande said.
“(Such as ) learning how to cope, how to regulate yourself, how to be empathetic. A lot of things are being imprinted in your brain (as a child) that impact the kind of adult you will become.”
“It’s fascinating the role that parents have and the power that we have, developmentally, with little ones.”
At the time of the conversation, Kamande was working with parents as part of the LCSS Parent Outreach program.
The service provides confidential in-home service to Langley residents who are parents or primary caregivers of children 14 or younger who could use some support around parenting issues.
Parents are encouraged to access the program when they have a concern with a child’s behaviour, when they are feeling overwhelmed, or if parent/child conflict exists.
“We go to them,” Kamande said. “If they want to come here, they can come here, but we (usually) go to them.”
“Our hours are flexible.
“I really would hope that parents would maximize using this service,” Kamande added. “First of all they get to know that they’re not alone. There’s no school that teaches you to be parents. It’s OK that it looks difficult and confusing and overwhelming sometimes.”
The program aims to enhance parenting skills through counselling, education and referrals to other sources of support, said program head, Jude Weir, who described it as a service for parents and primary caregivers “who would like some backup.”
Weir notes that the parenting counsellors work with parents, they don’t work with the children.
Another service for parents, the Community Counselling Program, focuses on issues such as family conflict, divorce, life transitions, stress management or grief and loss.
The counselling service is for residents of Langley, with priority given to the parents of kids under 14.
“But we see all ages and people from all walks of life,” Weir said. The service offers assistance with a wide range of concerns including depression, anxiety, personal issues, couples counselling, relationship issues and life transitions.
“If you’re just feeling overwhelmed and you’re not sure to where to turn, come and see us,” Weir said.
The Community Counselling and Parent Outreach Programs for people parenting children 14 years old and younger currently has appointments available weekdays and some evenings.
People who are interested can call and ask to speak to the program manager, go to the LCSS website, or obtain a doctor’s referral.
To arrange an appointment for either service, email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 604-534-7921 Ext. 1240 or visit http://www.lcss.ca
“There are several ways they can get to us,” Weir said.
Since it was founded, LCSS has grown from a small, volunteer run society to a professional, accredited agency.
It launched in November, 1971 under the name Langley Family Life Services, with 25 volunteers and eight board members working out of an office in the heart of Langley City.
In 1977 the name was changed to Langley Family Services, and new funding allowed the society to hire an addictions counsellor to serve adults and youth in Langley.
By 1981, staff and services were being added and the society moved operations to the present location at 5339 207 St. and added services for immigrants, as well as establishing the Community Gardens program.
In 2005 the society buildings were destroyed in an arson fire.
The society entered into a partnership with the City of Langley and outside donors for the construction of a new building.
When the new structure opened in 2007, the society was renamed to the Langley Community Services Society.