BY CORY MORRISON
ErinoakKids has a long history of serving children with disabilities. As demands for services are increasing each year, the ErinoakKids community feels that opening three new facilities would better serve children with disabilities. There are many new features and new ways that ErinoakKids provides services with the new facilities, which the community hopes to continue to improve on.
What is ErinoakKids
ErinoakKids is Ontario’s largest disability organization which serves children with disabilities in Halton, Peel, and Dufferin counties.
- The founding of ErinoakKids occurred in 1971.
- The opening of ErinoakKids’ first facility occurred in 1978.
- The ErinoakKids community noticed that the demands for services were increasing by about 10 per cent each year as years passed.
- The community went on a journey to make a case for three new ErinoakKids facilities to the provincial government in 2008.
- The government initially told the community that the facilities were too large and expensive.
- The community lobbied politicians and asked advocates for help in order to get approval for the three new facilities in 2011.
- The community broke ground for the three new facilities in 2015.
- The ministry announced the new autism program for therapies which is the Ontario Autism Program (OAP) in June 2017, impacting therapies served at ErinoakKids.
- The three new facilities opened in January 2018 in Brampton, Mississauga, and Oakville.
All services can be accessed under one roof now
Julie Saccone, Director of Communications at ErinoakKids, said that the new facilities are important because clients were travelling to many different facilities to access services previously.
“Most of our clients and families can access resources and supports at one location, so they are receiving the services and supports right under one roof in their community,” she said.
Services that ErinoakKids now provides under one roof
- Intensive behavioural interventions
- Medical services
- Navigation services
- Social work
- Occupational therapy
- Speech and language therapy
New facilities are more like recreation centres than office buildings
Bonnie De Paul, a Clinical Operations Manager at ErinoakKids, said that people may become more aware of ErinoakKids because the facilities are larger and almost like a community recreation centre.
De Paul feels that before the ErinoakKids community opened the new facilities in January 2018, ErinoakKids was not well-known. ErinoakKids in general, was only well-known to families of children with disabilities before the new facilities opened.
De Paul also feels that kids can have more fun in these new facilities.
“Previously in our buildings, especially in Halton, it was in an office building, so it didn’t feel like a place where kids could come and have fun,” said DePaul.
Larger treatment spaces may be more effective to serve clients
Additional features and clients being able to access services more easily has also increased the chances of success with children with disabilities.
Daniella Giavedoni, a Clinical Operations Manager for autism services at ErinoakKids, feels that the larger group spaces mean that the community can bring in more children and use group therapies.
“Our larger group spaces and gym spaces means that we could bring more children in and serve more children,” she said.
Giavedoni also feels that with autistic children, in particular, group therapies would be good for meeting the goals that they have with their social needs.
New facilities meet new autism program’s standards
Giavedoni feels that the new Ontario Autism Program (OAP) would be more effective at the new facilities compared to the previous therapies known as ABA and IBI.
OAP offers more flexible services and a more integrated, family-driven approach. The new therapies also better focus on the goals and priorities of families.
The ErinoakKids community hopes to continue to expand and improve services in order to better serve children with disabilities.
Link to ErinoakKids website
If you have a child with a disability, or if you are interested in learning more about ErinoakKids, you can visit the ErinoakKids website at https://www.erinoakkids.ca for more information.