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Stronger Together Grant Supports Families

A new project at Matthew’s House will help families with children who have complex care needs support their children more fully thanks to a grant from the Bridgeway Foundation through their Stronger Together initiative.

The $19,475 grant will fund specialized, intensive training for staff and families at Matthew’s House with regards to autism spectrum disorder and behavioural support training.

Located in Abbotsford, Matthew’s House is a ‘home away from home’ that provides respite care for children from across BC who live with complex care issues. Respite care gives parents a much needed break to rest and rejuvenate. This in turn strengthens the whole family unit. By adding behavioral support training, children will benefit from enhanced professional care and families are further supported with the additional training and tools that support the respite care they already receive.

“Because of this training, families will be empowered,” says Wendy Toohey, manager at Matthew’s House. “Parents of children with disabilities will have the tools they need to create successful coping strategies, breaking the current cycle of failure and frustration and building holistic support plans around their child.”

The goal of the project focuses on children, their families and the wider community. Empowering families with the skills they need to thrive long-term in the family setting also allows for siblings to thrive in healthy family units. This creates a ripple effect, creating stronger communities through healthy and successful family experiences.

Over 12 months, 15 families who use respite at Matthew’s House will have the opportunity to participate in behavioural support training events and will receive enhanced take-home supports along with their current respite care model.

“Enhanced family skills promote healthy child development which in turn maximizes quality of life and supports full participation in community life,” Toohey says. “This consistency of care and support will create a broader opportunity for positive change.”

Karyn Santiago is the CEO of Communitas Supportive Care Society, which operates Matthew’s House. She is excited for the opportunity that staff and families at Matthew’s House have to be part of something ground breaking.

“Currently, for children living with complex care needs and behaviours related to intellectual disabilities, developmental disabilities and mental health challenges, there are few opportunities in BC to receive both respite care and holistic, therapeutic development and care in one location,” she says. “The Stronger Together grant will enable the dedicated team of professionals at Matthew’s House to more fully serve children of all abilities, their families and the community at large.”

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