VHA’s Child and Family Community Support Programs Strengthen Families in Crisis
For over 30 years, families with young children experiencing difficult circumstances have received support through VHA Home HealthCare (VHA)’s Child and Family Programs. These families include a grieving father caring for a new baby and three school-aged children after losing his wife during childbirth, a recent immigrant and single mother of newborn quadruplets, and a father living with his son in a shelter while navigating his child’s autism diagnosis.
VHA’s Support for Families in Crisis provides temporary support in a medical emergency and the Parent Relief and Connect Program offers relief for parents experiencing or at risk for a mental health issue such as postpartum depression. Funded in partnership with the United Way of Greater Toronto, these short-term, in-home services may include childcare, setting up routines and schedules, light housekeeping, and meal preparation, as well as emotional support and guidance.
“Our programs target vulnerable, low-income families in the Toronto-area, where poverty, mental illness or isolation has put parents and their children aged 0-4 at risk,” said Asimah Husain, Registered Social Worker and Child and Family Support Program Supervisor at VHA.
“In-home care for children and babies helps parents recuperate after surgery or other medical situations. For parents struggling with their mental health, this respite care means that they can attend a support group, therapy appointment or just get some rest and a moment for self-care,’ she added.
Clients may be self-referred or can be directed to these services through a social worker or other health care provider. As the program’s Intake Worker, Annika Mohammed is usually the first person who families connect with.
“Our families are often isolated—without support from friends or family—and they trust us to provide care for their little ones during times of transition, turmoil or crisis,” Annika said. “There’s so much more to these services than the hands-on care we provide. Families tell us that knowing their children are safe and cared for allows them to focus on their health and healing, gives them a chance to get back on their feet and in some cases, rebuild their confidence.”
Other community services in the Toronto-area that are available for families in crisis are often information-based or offered outside of the home, which requires child-care arrangements.
“Usually within a week after the initial intake, our workers are in the home bathing a new baby, doing the laundry, offering emotional support, teaching parenting skills or connecting parents to broader community supports,” Asimah said. “There really aren’t other programs equivalent to what we do and that’s what makes VHA’s services so unique and important.”
With the healthcare system under more strain than ever, community support services like VHA’s Child and Family Programs prevent hospitalizations, provide compassionate, cost-effective care, and make an immediate and direct impact.
If you think your family or someone you know may benefit from VHA’s Community Support Services, reach out today. Call (416) 489-2500 ext. 4349 for an assessment and to determine eligibility.