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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.

 


 

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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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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Integration Action for Inclusion School Experiences Survey

This is aimed at learning about peoples' experiences in the school system both during COVID-19 and more generally. It is a longer survey (33 questions) aimed at trying to understand peoples' views and thoughts about schooling during COVID-19 and inclusive schooling in general. It also includes an opportunity for you to let us know your thoughts about a possible name change and if you have any time to spare as a volunteer. It should take no more than 15 minutes to complete. 

 

Complete the survey here.

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Kerry's Place- Foundational Family Services & Groups

Kerry's Place has lots of learning opportunities for families and groups children with ASD.

 

Check out their Foundational Family Service catalogue here for learning opportunities for parents.

Check out their Groups catalogue here for chldren & youth to participate in & learn new skills.

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CYPT Youth Impact Survey Data Briefs

Waterloo Region, October, 2020 - The Children and Youth Planning Table (CYPT) in partnership with the Canadian Index of Wellbeing (CIW) at the University of Waterloo, UNICEF Canada, and the Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) partnered to develop the prototype of a new child and youth well-being survey.  Aligned with the Canadian Index of Well-being (developed by UNICEF Canada), the “Youth Impact Survey” measures and monitors the well-being of children and youth.
 
In July of 2020, the survey was open and piloted for young people, aged 9-18 in Waterloo Region to respond to questions across nine focus areas of well-being that will be shared over ten briefs and provide feedback on the survey tool itself.  About 300 youth in Waterloo Region took the survey and we are pleased to announce that we are sharing more preliminary data.  This is the second release of the Data Briefs, this time, focusing on: physical health, learning, participating and play, which follow up the September release of data surrounding belonging and mental and emotional health.
 
We hope that this information is helpful to those working and supporting children and youth in our community.  The data can help inform the current state of well-being, and can be used in conjunction with additional data and/or as a conversation starter with young people to better understand their specific state of well-being. This release is the next step in sharing information from the Youth Impact Survey, and we look forward to sharing further information across the other focus areas, as well as disaggregated data.
 
CLICK HERE to review the Youth Impact Survey – Data Briefs
Please note: The accessible version of these briefs will be available soon.
 

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Impact of Covid-19 for parents

Infant Mental Health Promotion (IMHP) at the Hospital for Sick Children, in collaboration with the Ontario Centre of Excellence for Child and Youth Mental Health (The Centre), Kids Brain Health Network (KBHN) and Children First would like to hear families’ thoughts about how our child and youth mental health system can improve the quality of services for children under 6 throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. We'd like your help to invite them to complete the survey below, which focuses on understanding:

  • What information or services were accessed during the COVID-19 pandemic, in order to support your youngest child's well-being; and
  • How we could help to improve the quality of this information and services as we continue to move through the pandemic (and perhaps a second wave).

The information we collect through this short and completely anonymous survey will help us to strengthen the supports that are available to families.

Please forward this survey to parents/caregivers in your Canadian network, as well as to any partners who could help spread the word about this survey. Eventually a summary of survey results will be available on the IMHP website at www.imhpromotion.ca.

If you have any questions about the survey, please email: magali.bouhours@sickkids.ca.
 

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Family Compass Waterloo Region-Back to School bucket

Family Compass Waterloo Region has added a Back to School bucket on their Covid-19 webpage. Parents can access resources and articles pertaining to children and youth returning to school during the pandemic. Resources are being added daily. 

 

 

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Not Another Webinar

We are all navigating a lot of uncertainty!  As we work toward transitioning children back to child care and classrooms, a group of community agencies have come together in the interest of creating resources.  “Not Another Webinar” has been created with parents and educators in mind, to support finding tools and strategies to have a smooth and successful transition for not only the children, but for the parents and educators as well.

 

The short videos and compilation of valuable resources you’ll find at Not Another Webinar were created by our community partners on topic areas such as Strategies for Challenging Behaviour, Tapping Into Your Resilience and more.  They were put together specifically to help you save time and get exactly what you need, right now.  Not another webinar is a collection of short and easy to implement lessons that will make your transition back to a classroom that much better!”

 

This resource was put together by staff from: Kidsability, KWHab, DSRC, EarlyON, Early Childhood PRC, SNAP, SNRC and of course the CYPT.

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Survey on Family perspectives about partnership with teachers in a time of Covid 19

Since March of this year, families have had the challenge of providing education at home in a time of a pandemic. For families who have children with disabilities, this has been an even more challenging time, with many families seeing their regular, IEP-mandated supports stopped or dramatically changed. Families may have also seen differences in interactions with teachers and other school personnel. Now, as students begin to return to school in the fall, it is critically important for families to share their needs to support their child with a disability to be successful.

 

Researchers from Queen’s University have partnered with the Family Alliance of Ontario to develop a short online survey (approx. 20 minutes to complete) to gather family perspectives about partnership with teachers in a time of COVID-19. They are looking for volunteers to participate in this survey – you are eligible if you are a caregiver of a child with a disability who is in the Ontario K-12 public school system.

 

In order to capture experiences that will occur as students resume school in various formats this month, we have extended the window to complete this survey until September 30, 2020. Results will then be compiled and shared with families and school stakeholders (school boards and the provincial government) to help inform and improve partnership with families in the 2020/2021 school year.

 

In appreciation of your time, you will be entered into a draw to win one of thirty $15 Amazon.ca gift certificates.

 

Click on this link to learn more and participate.  https://gmucehd.az1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_6PhSPzCtXdiCeFL

 

For more information about the survey, contact Heather Aldersey: hma@queensu.ca

 

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Supporting Our Children’s Mental Health as they Return to School - webinar recording

Returning to school in the fall is an anxious time for both parents and students. These feelings are only magnified when your child suffers from mental health challenges. The “Supporting our Children’s Mental Health as they Return to School” webinar offers tools and tips on supporting your children as they return to school.

 

Parenting author and mental health advocate, Ann Douglas, was the keynote speaker for the discussion, followed by a panel of educators and parents, including: Holly Sabara, Chair of Parents for Children’s Mental Health and CMHA WW Family Council; Kellie Angerilli, St John Bosco Catholic Secondary School Principal; and Jennifer Meeker, Upper Grand District School Board Principal.

View the recording online here.

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