FASD Training for Caregivers and Staff

Posted: November 28th, 2017

On November 20 and 21, approximately 60 foster parents and Tikinagan staff participated in FASD Training hosted by Tikinagan’s training unit.

“It was very interesting and very successful,” said Victoria Sakchekapo, who attended the training with her husband Innes from Weagamow First Nation. As foster parents, both Victoria and Innes appreciated the training and found it helpful.

“It was the first time that Innes went, but I have been before,” explained Victoria. “With all the communities coming together, like Webequie, Wunnumin, Kingfisher, Muskrat Dam … it was very interesting, because we had a chance to hear what other foster parents are going through. I always thought we were the only one going through these things.”

Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) is a lifelong condition and is a combination of mental and physical disabilities. It is a preventable disorder, caused by the mother of a child who drinks alcohol during pregnancy.

“The workshop was basically to provide an understanding of what FASD is,” explained trainer Debbie Michaud, who worked alongside coworker Rhonda Konrad from Kenora Rainy River Districts Child and Family Services (KRR) to provide the training. “We’re teaching about best practices and interventions for children with FASD.”

“It’s important to understand that you cannot change a child with FASD by putting them in treatment or counselling. You need to change the world around them so that they can be successful,” Michaud said.

Michaud and Konrad covered the basics of what FASD is, benefits to diagnosis, common behaviors, and tools for how to ensure a safe, structured and positive environment for a child living with FASD.

“I think our main passion about this is everybody getting a better understanding, so that a child can grow up in a world where they’re understood and they’re supported,” said Konrad. “The other thing I think is important is every child living with FASD is different, so there’s no one magic solution for FASD because it looks different for every child. So you have to find out the unique needs of your specific child.”

Innes explained that many people in his community don’t know what FASD is and this kind of training would go a long way in helping not just foster parents, but all parents as well as community resources such as police officers and school teachers.

“If they could come to the communities and teach more people in the community, maybe even the band council, this would really help a lot of children. One of the foster parents was saying that their foster child often gets suspended because the teachers don’t know how to handle kids with FASD, so if they had better understanding and a workshop there, it would really help them,” said Innes, who also explained he spoke to the Michaud and Konrad about this and hopes to see them in his community in the future.

In the meantime, Tikinagan will continue to provide more training on various subjects for foster parents and employees through the training unit.

“We are always looking to provide more training for our employees and foster parents. Children and families deserve the best services, so providing training and support is essential to our agency. At the end of the day, the backbone of our agency is our foster parents and we are always looking for ways to support them,” said Rodney Howe, Training Service Manager.