Province announces more supports for families dealing with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder
KITCHENER -- The provincial government has announced more supports for families dealing with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.
Wednesday marked International Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Awareness Day, reminding expecting mothers not to drink while pregnant.
Todd Smith, Minister of Children, Community and Social Services, announced $3 million in annual funding while in Kitchener on Wednesday. The province said the money will help raise awareness about FASD, along with coordinating services and increasing support for children and families impacted by FASD.
Susan Smith's adopted daughter, who is 15 years old, was born with FASD.
"We don't know amounts, but we know there was alcohol and drugs," Smith said.
Her daughter, Alysha, was born with brain damage and has difficulty with day-to-day activities.
"She struggles with social interactions," Smith said. "She struggles with school and she has a lot of extra medical appointments."
Alysha is one of thousands of children in Ontario with FASD.
"FASD represents about four per cent of the population," said Karen Huber, the FASD coordinator for the Sunbeam Developmental Resource Centre. "If we extrapolate that to Waterloo Region, that means we have about 6,000 children and youth living with FASD in our community."
Huber is the only FASD support worker in the region. She said support for families are crucial.
"We ensure that we build on their strengths and create goal plans that are benefitting the whole entire family," she said. "We make sure that caregivers have the support that they need."
The funding announced Wednesday will also be used to hire 26 more FASD support workers in the province.
"Currently the ministry requires me to support 50 families in a year," Huber said. "We will be able to double that with an additional support worker, so that will be fabulous."
Smith said that extra support will go a long way for her daughter.
"The day-to-day struggles can really get you down," she said. "Knowing there is support out there is very helpful."