Children’s Link is known and valued for offering resources, information, connections and hope to families and professionals in the disability community. Children’s Link is staffed by a dedicated team, many of whom have lived experience with disability. Our resource database contains more than 1,000 community resources, enabling us to provide people with a comprehensive variety of service and support options. Children’s Link is a community collaborator, resource connector, family champion and compassionate supporter at a time of crisis and uncertainty. Through our one-on-one support, workshops, natural supports groups and our extensive virtual support for families and professionals we connect with more than 10,000 Albertans per year.
We believe in bringing together families, agencies, and professionals to offer expertise, promote choice, enhance strengths, and hope to families and professionals who care for and work with children and youth with disabilities. We help families adapt and thrive by providing resources, information, and parent-to-parent connections. We are committed to the development of a community where families of children with special needs and those who serve them are informed, supported, and valued.
Impact is felt at both the individual and community level. Primary impact is felt with the family and secondary impact is felt in the community. Healthy families create healthy communities.
Service Delivery Audience: Families raising children with disabilities. Ages 0 – 28.
Number of clients served annually: 3700+ families/agencies/professionals
Indirect and Direct Services Hours: In general, one hour of indirect service to deliver 3 hours of direct service.
PROGRAMS we offer: Resource and Information Services, Family Support, Transition to Adulthood Support, Educational Workshops/Webinars/Seminars, Natural supports (Coffee Socials), and Resource Fairs. Our agency was built around the concept of family support. The information we provide to families is unbiased and professionally offered by parents who themselves have children with disabilities.
The Alberta Disability Atlas is an opportunity for Children’s Link to transform how we support children / youth and their families with disabilities in Alberta. Families access Children’s Link at multiple stages of the a child’s development with a disability. We have included an infographic of the many touchpoints we may have with a family–Equipping Families Across The Lifespan. Our family support workers are knowledgeable about and make referrals for a variety of challenges, supports and services some of which are listed here with the ages in brackets;
• Supports in hospital after birth
• Preschool referrals and supports
• Childcare Options (0-18)
• Counselling services (0-18)
• Behavioral Aides (0-18)
• Respite (0-18)
• Mental Health Supports (0-18)
• Recreational support for children and youth (0-18)
• Capacity Assessments (16-18)
• Psychological Assessments (4-18)
• Medical professionals (0-18)
• Summer camp referrals and information for children and youth age (4-18)
• Our On-line Preschool Resource Fair for families with children between the ages of (3-6).
• Our On-line Recreation Fair for children, youth and families from (0-21).
• Our On-line Transition Fair is for youth between the ages of (15-21).
Currently, our website offers a resource center with Google-esque search abilities for users to find community partners that offer disability programming and support services. We have an events calendar for events hosted by us and those in the disability sector, and we have a learning centre with videos developed by Children’s Link which cover such topics as “Transitioning to Adulthood”, “Guardianship and Trusteeship” and “What is AISH?” The current setup has been great while we served the Calgary and area. During the COVID pandemic we have had a growth in demand and more of our support has moved virtually. Providing more of our programming like the “Coffee Socials for Parents” to a virtual environment has opened the program to families in more rural areas. We need a bigger more robust platform to support parents/guardians as they navigate raising and supporting a child with a disability. Every disability and every child is unique, there’s no map that clearly lays out the path for parents. But we can build an atlas that shows multiple directions and options for parents to choose to guide their child to a successful and inclusive future. 94% of clients reported feeling empowered as a result of their interactions with Children’s Link.
The Alberta Disability Atlas (The Atlas) will combine our resource centre, the events calendar, and the learning centre into one place, one proactive web portal. Now when a parent receives a disability diagnosis for their child, they can connect to The Atlas, register their information and the nature of the disability, they will receive notifications on events, videos, community resources which can support them and their child’s needs. And not just once! Once they’re connected to The Atlas, they will be supported at every fork in the road, maybe even before they realize there’s a fork approaching. The Atlas will be proactive in notifying parents of possibly decisions and options based on data collected from families in similar situations.
Further, The Atlas will help the nonprofit and social organizations that support children with disabilities connect with parents more efficiently and not just once. If a nonprofit organization, like Cerebral Palsy Alberta created a new progam or event series they could share it on The Atlas and feel confident that their new offering will reach the families who are most interested in it, proactively.
The Children’s Link online platform needs to move beyond the traditional concept of a website, and move along the path towards becoming a platform; a library of resources that is easy to use, broadly accessible, and integral to the expanding disability community in Alberta that relies upon it. We can design a custom solution to meet the needs of the disability community in Alberta, we can give youth with disabilities better opportunities for their future, one that is inclusive, diverse, and full of potential.