An update for friends and partners of ErinoakKids
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Community Newsletter | Winter 2018

An Update from Bridget Fewtrell, President & CEO

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

We have much to be grateful for this holiday season here at ErinoakKids as we reflect back on 2018. We have long dreamed and planned to be able to offer children with disabilities and their families a way to obtain all their services under one roof, in their local communities, and this year that became a reality as we moved into three new, purpose-built facilities in Brampton, Mississauga, and Oakville. It has been such a privilege and pleasure for us to see children, youth and families exploring these new spaces and benefitting from the services and amenities we are able to provide in them.

It was delightful to see so many of you, our community partners and stakeholders, at our grand openings in the spring, and to welcome you to the spaces we built together. Your support, in so many ways, pays dividends every day in the young lives that are made more full and enriching. 

We so appreciate the organizations and individuals who champion the work that we do. One example of this is Councillor Ron Starr who made ErinoakKids the benefactor—for the third year in a row—of his annual Starr’s on the Credit fundraiser. With the help of partners like Ron, and many others, we are able to provide additional services, like our summer camps and the Independent Living Program for youth transitioning into adulthood, that go beyond our government funded medical therapy and support services.

We’re thankful to the Smilezone Foundation for adding warmth and personality to three areas of our Brampton site by decorating them with bright and beautiful artwork. These murals are sure to bring smiles to the faces of everyone who sees them, and we look forward to working with Smilezone in 2019 to bring the same cheer to our Mississauga and Halton sites.

In the newsletter below, you will  read about a few other exciting initiatives that we launched this year, including a pilot program for young adults ages 18 and over at our Respite Centre, and the introduction of services for families impacted by Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder in Peel. You will also meet Calvin, a client who is thriving thanks to Autism Services at ErinoakKids. 

On behalf of our staff and our board, I would like to take this opportunity to wish you and your family the happiest of holiday seasons. We are grateful for you and appreciate your friendship and support as we provide therapy and medical services to nearly 17,000 children a year with special needs and their families in Peel, Halton and Dufferin County.

Bridget Fewtrell

ErinoakKids Piloting Respite Care for Young Adults with Medically Complex Needs

Parents of children who have complex medical needs are “on” 24/7. Even when they’re sleeping, they’re listening for signs of distress in their child. These children can’t sleep over at grandma’s house; even leaving them with a caring adult during the day is difficult.

This is why the ErinoakKids Respite Centre is so important. For a few weekends a year, parents can drop their children off to be cared for by skilled and caring professionals in a facility with the necessary equipment to keep them safe. It’s a much-needed break for parents, and their children have the opportunity to connect with others in a fun environment designed for them.

However once a child turns 18, this service is no longer available, leaving parents to care for their young adult and adult children without reprieve, or be forced to place them in a long term care home or hospital; neither of which is an appropriate setting for younger adults. While many families have some kind of in-home support from a Personal Support Worker, many don’t receive out-of-home activities or respite support. These parents are now older, and burnout is a real and common concern. 

To meet this need, ErinoakKids is piloting an over-18 respite program. Funded by the Mississauga Halton Local Health Integration Network, or LHIN, this pilot program serves 24 young adults with medically complex care needs over the course of nine, one-week respite programs. They participate in activities such as arts and crafts, swimming, baking, and outings in the community, and are cared for 24/7 by ErinoakKids staff.

To date, 21 individuals have participated in the pilot program and feedback has been very encouraging. Early in 2019, ErinoakKids will present the outcome of the pilot to LHINs across the Greater Toronto Area, with the goal of securing sustainable funding in order to offer regular respite services to these young adults with complex needs and their families.

ErinoakKids Now Offering Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Services to Peel Families

In October, ErinoakKids began offering Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) services to parents/caregivers with children (up to age 18, or between the ages of 18 and 21 and still in school) who have a confirmed or suspected FASD diagnosis, and reside in the region of Peel. 

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder can occur in an individual who was prenatally exposed to alcohol. The effects of FASD may include cognitive and behavioural difficulties and challenges. FASD is a lifelong disability. 

For the first time, families in Peel can now access an ErinoakKids FASD worker who offers family-centered consultations and follow-up services, and workshops. 

ErinoakKids is the lead agency in Peel for the FASD Worker role in Peel only. Families in Halton can access an FASD worker through Halton FASD and in Dufferin through DCAFS.

To learn more about ErinoakKids FASD services, visit

ErinoakKids Autism Services Helped Calvin Thrive

When Calvin was about to turn three years-old, his mom, Indra Nankumar, noticed that he was not interacting with her the same way her older son had. Indra felt that something was wrong.  

Shortly after that, Calvin was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. “I won’t lie to you, I did not know how to deal with it,” says Indra. “I did everything I could but I still did not know how to work with him.” 

But thanks to support and services from ErinoakKids, he not only began interacting, he also developed daily living skills, social communication skills and academic skills.

Watch the video below to learn more about Calvin’s journey. 
Calvin's Story

A Season of Giving

As you contemplate your year-end charitable donations we ask you to please consider the role you can play in making a difference in the lives of children and youth with disabilities. Through your generosity, ErinoakKids are able to provide additional programs and life-expanding experiences like summer camps and workshops to children and families who might not otherwise be able to participate.
DONATE NOW and help make a difference in the lives of our children and youth this holiday season.
Copyright © 2018 ErinoakKids, All rights reserved.

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