Historically, waiting periods are often silent. There is limited communication for a family after assessment until they reach their turn for service. Lansdowne Children’s Centre is committed to improving this experience.
I'VE BEEN WHERE YOU ARE
Renee Cochrane, shown here with her family, has joined Lansdowne Children's Centre as the inaugural Family Engagement Coordinator, a position created as part of the province’s SmartStart Hub plan to better streamline communications with client families.
“We can do better,” says Renee Cochrane, the newly appointed Family Engagement Coordinator.
Renee is a parent of two boys who have received assistance from Lansdowne Children’s Centre. Her experience as a client family, involved with Lansdowne for over 10 years, inspired her to volunteer as a leader of the Family Support Network, assisting other parents and families with questions and concerns. She has also been a volunteer board member.
In her newly created role, Renee will be leading efforts to provide better communications and resources for families in need, particularly those waiting for their in-person service opportunity. She recalls the experience of waiting for service.
“Being on the waiting list is one of the hardest things in the service process. When you first find out about a diagnosis you start to research and learn all you can about how to help your child. You work through the referral process. You start to feel like help is coming. And then… you wait. And the unknown of the waiting – Will it be days, months, weeks, years? – It is so hard.”
With a growing demand for services and limited capacity to respond, Lansdowne Children’s Centre is innovating again to better meet the needs of the thousands of children, youth and their families awaiting help with communication, developmental and physical needs.
One step towards improving family engagement has been the launch of Lansdowne’s new website, at www.lansdownecentre.ca
Built on a modern platform and designed for optimal accessibility, the new online presence offers an improved experience that includes more interactive resources. Joshua Paxton is Lansdowne’s Communications Coordinator and helped to oversee the production and launch of the new website.
“For almost a decade we were very fortunate to have the help of TDG Marketing in Brantford, to create materials and help Lansdowne develop a more modern brand. We built on their recommendations and insights and together crafted revised messaging and refreshed our online tools.”
TDG MARKETING “Making Lansdowne Children’s Centre our “charity of choice” has allowed us to enhance their marketing presence to better reach and impact the lives of children in the community. Their valuable services have touched the lives of so many.” – Mandy English-Parry, Managing Director of TDG Marketing
New features of the Lansdowne website include a library of online resources, mainly videos, helping to coach parents and caregivers with understanding the motivations and actions of children and youth.
“The online resources are there to help families waiting for service, or who are in between services. We don’t expect videos, or tutorials, or instructions to replace interactions with a service provider. We hope they provide families with some additional knowledge and offer a chance to prepare for their appointment by having some activities that can be worked on at home.”
Similarly, Lansdowne Children’s Centre sees virtual (remote) services as part of the service options along with in-person care in a continued effort to reach more families. All opportunities are being explored to help address growing waitlists for service.
Since 2020, the populations of Brantford, Brant, Norfolk and Haldimand counties have swelled, in large part to in-province migration. The shift has been felt at all Lansdowne Children’s Centre sites, with great focus on the Brantford location where capacity was already a growing concern.
IMPROVING ACCESS TO TECHNOLOGY One of the virtual (remote) service challenges identified to Lansdowne was access to technology and reliable internet connections. This video illustrates one family's experience and introduces the efforts of the Rotary Club of Brantford Sunrise to help Lansdowne foster strong connections with families in virtual services.
It was a decade ago that Lansdowne Children’s Centre first acted on a growing capacity issue at the Brantford site of the children’s treatment centre. With limited expansion options at the Mount Pleasant Street location, the leadership team started due process with government officials to open the conversation for funding a new build.
But new buildings take time. Time that children and families, frankly, don’t have.
“A frustrating case is to have a child diagnosed at age 3, wait two years for service, and then that child ages-out of a program before they can even receive help.”
Service delivery and allowances change when a child transitions from pre-school to school-age. An important window that can be missed if capacity issues create a lengthy waitlist time.
“We’re going to make greater efforts to connect with families who are waiting. We want families to know that we are working for them. Waiting with them. That we are here to help them.”
Moving forward, Lansdowne Children’s Centre will be working to be more accessible to families waiting for service. Strategies include newsletters, social media events, in-centre events, community-based events, and other opportunities to help families feel connected and supported.
Renee is excited to lead this effort, but realistic about its impact.
“The truth is, there is no substitute for interacting with a person. My hope is that we can make families feel more comfortable while they wait and get them help as soon as possible.”