Three year evaluation of a new program to support families and communities

In 2006, the government of British Columbia launched the Key Worker and Parent Support Program across the province. Between April 2006 and March 2009, over 1,800 families were referred to the program. This outreach program was designed to focus on and accommodate the needs of children affected by FASD by:

  • Providing one-to-one FASD-specific assistance to children and families in the home and community
  • Helping families gain understanding about and access to other community services
  • Offering caregivers (parents, foster and adoptive parents, grandparents, etc.) of children with FASD an opportunity to share and learn from each other through regular parent-to parent gatherings and networking
  • Supporting community initiatives and projects that provide education and awareness about FASD

The program emphasizes the importance of everyone having a common understanding of FASD and its behavioural symptoms. This common understanding then results in a shift in expectations for the child and ultimately in the implementation of strategies that take into account the ways in which each individual child with FASD thinks, learns and experiences the world.

Some of the unique features of the program are:

  • working with families and communities rather than implementing specific child-focused interventions
  • a wholistic approach
  • flexible eligibility criteria which allow all families with a child suspected of having FASD to access the program, even prior to obtaining a FASD assessment or diagnosis

One of the outcomes of flexible eligibility criteria is that the program has been able to reach a range of families. In its third year, families accessing the program were birth parents (34%),  foster parents (23%), adoptive parents (20%), and grandparents (15%).

The program was implemented across the province through 56 community agencies, including 29 multi-service agencies, 13 Aboriginal agencies, 12 child development centres, 1 community college and 1 local Ministry of Children and Family Development office. This has meant that the program has been able to adapt to the local resources and needs of the community; it has also meant that each program has had to address unique challenges in the implementation process. To learn more about the development, implementation, and evaluation of the program visit the BC government web site and check out the reference below.

Reference:

Rutman, D., Hubberstey, C., and Hume, S. (2010). British Columbia’s Key Worker and Parent Support Program: Evaluation Highlights and Implications for Practice and Policy. In Riley, E.P., Clarren, S., Weinberg, J., and Jonsson, E. (editors), Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder: Management and Policy Perspectives of FASD, Wiley-Blackwell.