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From time to time, the Waterloo Region Family Network (WRFN) is asked to distribute information on behalf of third parties. WRFN provides general information to self-advocates and families of children with special needs. The information provided on this website is not a recommendation, referral or endorsement of any resource, therapeutic method, or service provider. WRFN is not responsible for any information or services provided by third parties. You are urged to use independent judgment when considering any resource.



Covid-19: Managing the Next Wave

Many of us are in panic mode right now. We’re alarmed by rising COVID-19 cases and exhausted by managing pandemic life.

The good news? There are things we can do right now to get us through the second wave. Here are eight health tips to think about and to discuss with a health care provider.

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Youth Job Connection Workshops

Are you under 30 and looking for work? Get ahead in your job search, connect with employers and get paid to do it! YJC-Lutherwood now offers online help.

Click here to get more details.

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Housing for All Strategy

A Human Rights Based Strategy to Address Homelessness and Housing

Responding to public concern over homelessness and housing affordability expressed by the public in the Strategic Plan Environics Survey Council directed an Affordable Housing Strategy be completed by 2020 in collaboration with the Region of Waterloo community groups and development industry. Housing For All is the City of Kitchener's comprehensive strategy to realize the right to housing and help make housing affordable using the tools and resources available to a local municipality.

Click here to read the Housing For All Strategy report.


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ConnectAbility Covid-19 Resources

Find answers to your Covid-19 questions, share experiences and discover events to stay active and connected.

Click here to see more resources.

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Research Project

My name is Tetyana Ali, I am graduate student from Wilfrid Laurier University in the department of Kinesiology and Physical Education. I am currently exploring the lived experiences of caregivers and service providers of developmental disability in Ontario. I am also exploring disability policy and caregiver policy and how it affects caregivers in Ontario.

To achieve this, I hope to conduct one-on-one semi-structured interviews with primary informal caregivers, as well as executive directors of disability organizations/networks. If this is something you are interested in participating in, please let me know!

Due to the pandemic, the interviews will be conducted online via Microsoft Teams or over the telephone. The interviews may take between 60-90 minutes to complete.


Executive Director Criteria:

  • Currently employed by an organization that provides supports for individuals with developmental disabilities (ages 4-25)
  • Must have experience working with individuals with developmental disabilities for at least 12 months


Caregiver Criteria:

  • Caregivers of children/young adults with developmental disabilities
  • Could range anywhere from ASD, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, Spina bifida, FASD, muscular dystrophy, intellectual disabilities, anything that has to with development can be included!
  • Caregivers must be primary
  • Those who are responsible for majority of care duties
  • Currently live or have lived with their care recipient within the last 12 months
  • Must have lived with the care recipient for at least a year
  • Caregiver must be informal
  • Unpaid for the care they provide
  • The caregiver must live within Ontario

Progression of the study and approximate time commitment:

  • Fill out a background questionnaire (approx. 5-10 min)
  • Fill out an informed consent form (approx. 5-10 min)
  • One-on-one semi-structured interview (approx. 60-90 min) over either MicrosoftTeams or over the telephone
  • All you need for MicrosoftTeams is google chrome and a webcam, I will send over more instructions if you choose to participate
  • If you allow it, the interview will be audio-recorded. This will allow me to transcribe the interview afterward for my analysis. I will be the only one to have access to this recording
  • You may still participate in the study if you decline audio-recording
  • Transcription check: after about 2 weeks' time I will send over a transcript of your interview for you to look over (approx. 10-15 min)
  • Here you will be able to change, add, or remove any information from the interview that you would like. I will not keep anything you wish to remove
  • Analysis check (OPTIONAL) around March 2021, I will send over the findings to you, if you wish you will be able to review these and give your opinion as well

For Research poster, click here.


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Town Hall - MCCSS Survey

We hosted a Town Hall on Saturday December 5 with about 19 participants. What an event and great conversation.   


We thought we could share the information that was collected and if you could share with your networks and contacts.  Please find attached the following documents:

1.  Key Words from Town Hall

2.  Town Hall Jam Board

3.  Word document with questions (can use this to complete the survey and then copy and paste)


The survey links are in the document but I have attached in this email also:

Plain Language Version

English:  https://www.mcss.gov.on.ca/wp/en/programs/developmental-services/making-ds-better-in-ontario/

French:  https://www.mcss.gov.on.ca/wp/fr/programmes/services-ontario-personnes-deficience-intellectuelle/ameliorer-spdi-en-ontario/


Full Version

English:  https://www.mcss.gov.on.ca/wp/en/programs/developmental-services/discussion-guide-ds-reform-engagement/

French:  https://www.mcss.gov.on.ca/wp/fr/programmes/services-ontario-personnes-deficience-intellectuelle/guide-discussion-consultations-reforme-spdi/



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Family Pulse-December 2020

Welcome to December! 


Inside the December issue of Family Pulse you will find information on:

All Feelings are OK 
SEAC Updates
What's Happening at WRFN
Information, Resources, & Opportunities


You can read the online version of Family Pulse here or download a pdf copy. 

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Technical committees on employment and emergency egrees

Starting today, we are recruiting volunteer* experts for two new technical committees. These committees will create employment and emergency egress accessibility standards.



Experts with disabilities are key to the successful development of accessibility standards.  Each technical committee will consist of 12 to 18 members. All experts are required to represent one of the following categories:

► Industry and commerce

► Government authorities

► Consumer and public interest

► Labour and unions

► University and research groups

► Non-governmental organizations

► Standards development organizations

How to apply

Our goal is to make the process accessible and easy for all candidates.

Deadline to apply: December 21, 2020, 11:59 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.

Here are the ways to apply:


A) Apply online

Follow these steps:

1.   Click on the technical committee you are interested in above.

2.   Click on the Apply button.

3.   Fill out the online form. You will need to attach your resume (maximum two pages).

4.   Submit the form.

5.   You will see a message confirming submission.


B) Apply in American Sign Language (ASL) or Langue des signes québécoise (LSQ)
Choose one of the following 2 ways :

1.   Follow the steps right above to apply online. Then attach a video in ASL or LSQ that describes your expertise in the "Resume" field. You will see a message confirming submission.

2.   Simply send us an ASL or LSQ language video describing your expertise by email.

C) Other ways to apply

To apply by mail, by phone or through other means, please contact us:






1 833 854 7628


By mail

Accessibility Standards Canada

125 Sussex Drive

Terrace level

Suite 010, Confederation Hall

Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0G2


If you have any issues or questions, or if you need help applying, please contact us (contact information right above).


Thank you for considering sharing the news in your network!


*We are following Canadian and international best practices to develop our standards. These are volunteer roles, but if an expert with a disability is not paid by an organization, we will pay them for their role on a technical committee.

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Putting Family Mental Health First: 7 Tips to Get Ready for the Holiday

It’s Been a Hard Year.

Here, at Children’s Mental Health Ontario, we know that many families and children across the province have been struggling deeply with mental health in these very unusual, trying days. On top of it, parents have been working hard for our families to manage health risks and find our way through the pandemic. For example, the return to school has been extraordinary for so many of us, especially those of us with a child or youth struggling with mental illness. These last few months, we have had to forgo traditional celebrations that are important to families and children, such as Thanksgiving dinners or trick-or-treating on Halloween.

And now, the holidays are upon us.

It’s a lot.

But here is the thing: We are doing it!

We are doing our best – and that is good enough right now. We will get through this next stage, too.


We know that many parents are going to be working overtime this year to find new ways to recreate the holidays to not lose the magic of the season. We know you want to keep the sparkle in your kids’ eyes, to keep them engaged and connected. With the support of our network of child and youth mental health experts, we have rounded up some tips and ideas to help your family support your child’s mental health and manage the holidays in a pandemic.

Télécharger: Le bien-être mental de votre famille d’abord: 7 conseils pour se préparer à la période des fêtes  


1) Prioritize Mental Health in the Holidays

Even in a typical year, the holidays can be an especially challenging time of year for many families. Expectations of the holidays can be hard on children– and, let’s face it, it’s not ‘the happiest time’ for all of us. When you prioritize your or your child’s mental wellness, you can focus on what works for your family. As a parent, consider the things that feel realistic for you to do and then offer those choices to kids/youth to pick from. So many of us struggle with saying no over the holidays – perhaps this year, you will feel confident about not over committing your schedule and slowing things down; and that’s ok! Also, keep in mind that having time to connect with each other is important, but so, too, is having space for everyone to have their own personal time.


2) Plan Early

Routines and predictability are often beneficial (within reason) for children and youth with mental health challenges. It’s a good time to start having conversations with children about what the holidays may look like so that they understand things will be different this year and they know what to expect. This also allows them to be a part of the new planning process. What is important to them? Is there something new they would like to try? Planning early also gives us time to let other relatives or friends know in advance to manage their expectations, too. Also, consider connecting with the parents of your children’s friend to arrange days before or after the holidays for play dates, either virtually or in-person/outdoors, depending on local public health advice. This can include coming up with a list of outdoor winter activities.


3) Focus on What's in Your Control

While we are all doing our part to manage the pandemic, so much of what is happening in the province – and the world – is out of our control right now. This is a good time to focus on the things that are in your control. When it comes to traditions of the holiday season, consider how you can incorporate the traditions, or at least parts of those traditions, that are most important to your family. What are some of the things your family can do to bring a little holiday magic into your home? It could be a simple thing like baking cookies, preparing a special family recipe, or planning for a holiday nature walk as a way to get outdoors and move. If seeing family is important to you, consider the ways you can do that, for example, setting up Zoom while your different households have a special meal. It won’t be the same, but that doesn’t mean you won’t enjoy it.


4) Managing Disappointment

For a lot of us, we are going to need to accept that the holidays just won’t be what they usually are. That will be disappointing for a lot of children (and parents!) It’s important to acknowledge that disappointment, especially for children. Give kids a safe space to share their feelings and be heard; let them know this is hard for you, too. Reminding your kids – and yourself – that this is a temporary measure in a very unusual time may make it all feel a little less daunting. Read More from Parenting Author Ann Douglas on How to Help Kids Manage Feelings of Disappointment


5) Supporting Children Through Grief

The holidays can be especially hard for families who are grieving. Remembering your loved one, telling stories, and laughing about good times together are all ok to do, and can provide comfort to your child. You might work together to come up with ideas for memorializing your loved one over the holiday. Remember that it’s okay for you child/youth to feel upset as there have been a lot of different types of loss this year.

Read our post on Helping Children Through Grief Here.


6) Take Care of You

The holidays can be a stressful and anxious time for parents, too. Make sure that you are eating, sleeping and enjoying the holidays as well. Maintain healthy boundaries. Take time when you need it, don’t feel guilty saying no when you need to. Do what is best for you and your family. Consider planning a day where the family could play a game or watch a movie together. But don’t forget to have some scheduled time where kids can play games and parents can take some time out as well.


7) Take Care of You

The holidays can be a stressful and anxious time for parents, too. Make sure that you are eating, sleeping and enjoying the holidays as well. Maintain healthy boundaries. Take time when you need it, don’t feel guilty saying no when you need to. Do what is best for you and your family. Consider planning a day where the family could play a game or watch a movie together. But don’t forget to have some scheduled time where kids can play games and parents can take some time out as well.

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MCSS-Improvement and Reform of DSO survey

The Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services (MCCSS) has put out a survey asking what they can do to improve and reform Developmental Services in Ontario. This is an opportunity to help shape the future of developmental services and provide your feedback on how it looks for you right now.  Your input is very important.

MCCSS is asking for ideas, feedback, and comments that will help them improve supports for people with developmental disabilities and the survey provides opportunities for people to share their thoughts on:

  • Making funding fair and transparent
  • Better Assessment and planning
  • Delivering supports that meet people’s changing needs
  • Improving service quality
  • How technology can be used to improve services

There is both a plain language version and full version with discussion guide that will take about 45 minutes to complete. 

Plain language Version

Full version

Open for feedback until December 31, please take some time to answer some or all of the questions. Ensuring that MCCSS hears from people in our community is so important in ensuring that places like Waterloo Region Family Network can continue to provide supports and services for people with developmental disabilities.

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Blog Contributor Portrait
Leah Bowman
January 5, 2021
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Blog Contributor Portrait
Waterloo Region Family Network
November 12, 2019
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