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Alberta PCAP Council

Who We Are

The Parent-Child Assistance Program (PCAP) offers specialized, holistic support during and after pregnancy for those experiencing difficulties with substance use and other health and social issues.


The Program

The Parent-Child Assistance Program (PCAP) offers specialized, holistic support during and after pregnancy for those experiencing difficulties with substance use and other health and social issues. PCAP mentors build healthy relationships by meeting the participant where they are at in their lives and assisting them to create the life they want.

PCAP participants work alongside a mentor for three years to help them build connections with their network of supports. Among others, these are a few areas mentors commonly help with:

  • Connecting with substance and mental health treatment.
  • Getting birth control.
  • Navigating community.
  • Legal.
  • Housing and income assistance programs.
  • Support with child intervention.
  • Attending appointments together.
  • Helping set self-determined goals.

The goals of PCAP are accomplished by addressing what the participant needs in a trauma-informed manner. The foundation of PCAP support is based on relational theory, stages of change, self-efficacy, and harm reduction

Intake criteria

Participants may be accepted into the program if they:

  • Are pregnant or up to six-months postpartum,
  • Have used alcohol and/or drugs during pregnancy and,
  • Have not successfully engaged with other service providers.

A participant may also meet secondary intake criteria depending on program availability, if they:

  • Have delivered a child with a diagnosis of FASD.
  • Are continuing to use alcohol.
  • Are in childbearing years.

PCAP participants are supported in the program even during periods of relapse or continued use of substances.

Note: Availability and intake depend on individual agency.  


PCAP began in 1991 at the University of Washington as a federally-funded evidenced-based research project that provided home visitation assistance to mothers who used drugs or alcohol during pregnancy.

In Alberta, a small group of passionate individuals were working in other home visitation programs, assisting overburdened and under-resourced participants. These individuals became supporters of FASD prevention and worked tirelessly to advocate for Alberta’s need for a prevention program. They found the Washington PCAP model online and determined that the program’s description and goals were compatible with what they hoped to implement in Alberta.

Through their advocacy, three PCAP programs began in Alberta in 1999 (Edmonton Bissell Centre, Edmonton Catholic Social Services, and Lethbridge Alberta Health Services), and expanded soon after to Calgary and Cold Lake in 2000 and 2001, respectively. In 2005, seven First Nation communities received PCAP funding from the federal government. These communities integrated PCAP as an embedded stream of services to which individuals could be referred to. Today, 30+ programs provide PCAP services in Alberta.

PCAP as the Program of Choice

In 2007, the Government of Alberta chose PCAP as the program of choice to address targeted and indicated prevention of FASD.

The Alberta PCAP Council’s Role

The Alberta PCAP Council oversees the implementation and support of the PCAP model to best fit the needs of the province and the diversity of the individual programs while maintaining fidelity to the original model.

The Council supports the individual PCAP programs by providing informed education and training to best teach on the specific experiences to the population we are working with in all areas of support to achieve better outcomes for participants.

The Council also hosts and maintains the Penelope Tracking Database used by PCAP programs to collect outcomes data and generates reports evaluating the successes of the program. PCAP Council provides sites with all Penelope training, user support, and site-specific outcomes reports.

The Council communicates directly with PCAP programs, funders, national networks and other stakeholders to share resources and advocate the value of PCAP.