Phone service launches for child development concerns

April 10, 2023

CALGARY - Parents, guardians and caregivers who have concerns about their child’s development and well-being can now receive free advice and guidance through a new phone service launched recently by Alberta Health Services (AHS).

By calling Health Link at 811, Albertans with concerns about their child’s development — including speech, movement and hearing — can be redirected to the new Pediatric Rehabilitation Line and speak with an occupational therapist or another appropriate allied health professional.

“Alberta Health Services (AHS) is taking action focused on improving patient flow and providing more care options to Albertans,” says Jason Copping, Minster of Health. “It’s about getting the right care to Albertans where and when they need it, and this new Pediatric Rehabilitation Line does just that.”

The Pediatric Rehabilitation Line provides advice to parents and caregivers of infants, children and youth (birth to 18 years) who have concerns about developmental milestones in areas such as:

The Pediatric Rehabilitation Line can also help callers who are looking for local services and/or current rehabilitation resources (e.g., links to information or webinars), or need support to help a child or youth recover from COVID-19.

“This new line is another innovative way that AHS is bringing more care options to more Albertans, reducing pressures on the healthcare system,” says AHS President and CEO Mauro Chies. “Directing callers to allied health professionals through the Pediatric Rehabilitation Line not only links that caller to immediate and appropriate care information, it provides parents and guardians with peace of mind when they are able to speak to directly with a professional about concerns related to their children.”

The Pediatric Rehabilitation Line is integrated into the existing Rehabilitation Advice Line, which is staffed by physiotherapists and occupational therapists, and was launched in 2020. The Rehabilitation Advice Line (1-833-379-0563) answers more than 10,000 calls per year.

Callers to the Rehabilitation Advice Line can also be asked to be redirected to the Pediatric Rehabilitation Line during operating hours: Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

“Our trained healthcare professionals are there to provide information and guidance to callers who have concerns over their child’s development, and offer direct support,” says Patricia Chambers, Senior Provincial Director, Virtual Care, Access and Navigation, AHS.

The Pediatric Rehabilitation Advice Line was enabled in part through an Alberta Health grant to enhance pediatric rehabilitation services for children and youth.

AHS also offers free webinars that cover a range of developmental topics for children and youth from birth to 18 years. Topics range from toilet training and tummy time to emotional regulation and speech development, as well as many others.

Hosted by pediatric rehabilitation professionals, the AHS webinar series is designed for all parents and caregivers. It may be especially beneficial for those with children and youth who may be developing differently or have medical conditions that are affecting their development.

Most sessions are live, meaning participants can ask questions during the session. Some sessions are pre-recorded.

Each webinar is free of charge and will focus on a specific developmental skill such as walking, talking, listening and more. Parents and caregivers will build skills and gain confidence by learning practical ways to help children and youth improve their skills while supporting development.

The free webinars are delivered on Zoom and require registration in advance. Information and registration for the free webinars can be accessed here.

AHS encourages all Albertans who are seeking health advice for non-urgent health concerns to learn about their care option by visiting Physicians, pharmacists or Health Link are often your best supports.

Alberta Health Services is the provincial health authority responsible for planning and delivering health supports and services for more than four million adults and children living in Alberta. Our mission is to provide a patient-focused, quality health system that is accessible and sustainable for all Albertans. Our current focus is on reducing emergency department wait-times, improving EMS response times, increasing access to surgeries, and improving patient flow.