September is Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) Prevention and Support month, an opportunity for communities throughout the province and the world to work together to raise awareness about the risks of alcohol use during pregnancy and to support those who live with FASD every day.
In order to ensure that front-line workers in B.C. are able to provide the best possible supports to people living with FASD – and their families – the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) will host a two-day training event for FASD key workers in Spring 2017. The event will bring together key workers from throughout the province to discuss the latest research and best practices regarding support and services for those who need them.
The two-day training event will enable front-line workers to build their knowledge and skills so they can deliver high-quality supports and services to individuals and families who are living with FASD. This event will include advanced training for supervisors so they can better support their team members in cases where the level of care needed is more complex.
MCFD established the FASD Key Worker Program in 2006 to provide child-specific support to families affected by FASD. One of the strategic priorities of the 2008-18 FASD Provincial Plan is to train service providers who support children and youth with FASD, their families and communities.
As a leader in FASD prevention, diagnosis, assessment, and intervention, B.C. is a member of the Canada Northwest FASD Partnership, an alliance of the four western provinces and three territories that works together to enhance prevention, diagnosis and support. The partnership supports research in FASD through the Canada FASD Research Network. B.C. leads the partnership during 2016-17 and is involved in planning a national symposium on FASD and justice planned for Regina in early 2017.
Stephanie Cadieux, Minister of Children and Family Development –
“Drinking alcohol during pregnancy has lifelong implications, with many children and youths requiring considerable support to overcome the challenges of living with FASD. This two-day training event will enable B.C.’s FASD Key Workers to continue to provide high-quality services to families and children who live with FASD and will help keep B.C. at the forefront of FASD research and prevention.”
Terry Lake, Minister of Health –
“Preventing and reducing risky and harmful alcohol use among women of reproductive age is an important public health issue. More training for health-care providers and social service staff, frontline workers, women and partners, will help support mothers to make healthy choices for themselves and their children – and work towards a future free of FASD.”
Nancy Poole, prevention research lead, CanFASD Research Network and director of the Centre of Excellence for Women’s Health, based at BC Women’s Hospital + Health Centre –
“There are many people and organizations working on women’s health and in the prevention of FASD in B.C. These programs are available to provide safe and supportive places for women to have conversations about the effects of drinking on their health and that of their baby, and to get help to stop drinking in pregnancy if they wish for assistance.”
- Health Canada estimates that nine in every 1,000 infants are born with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, making it the leading known preventable form of disability in Canada.
- FASD is a term that describes the range of effects that can occur in a person whose mother drank alcohol during pregnancy.
- Drinking alcohol during pregnancy may cause permanent changes to the developing brain.
- This exposure has lifelong implications; those with FASD face challenges with memory, social communication, attention and sensory skills, and often have difficulty learning from consequences.
- While people with FASD can have significant and lifelong challenges in many areas of their lives, with support and understanding, their strengths and talents can be enhanced and their chances of success increased.
- Individuals with FASD are also at risk of depression, anxiety and many physical health issues.
- There is no known safe level of alcohol consumption for women during pregnancy – and no safe time during pregnancy to consume alcohol.
- The safest choice is to drink no alcohol at all when pregnant or planning to become pregnant.
Canada FASD Research Network: www.canfasd.ca/
Resources and research on women’s health and FASD prevention: http://bccewh.bc.ca/category/post/alcohol-fasd-prevention/
A health resource written by women for women, to provide useful information about alcohol and to help women make healthy and well-informed choices about alcohol use: www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/health/managing-your-health/mental-health-substance-use/womenandalcoholresource2014.pdf
The Alcohol & Drug Information and Referral Service: www.bc211.ca/help-lines/#adirs
Information on healthy pregnancies and raising a healthy family: http://www.healthyfamiliesbc.ca/
Information on programs to assist children and families: www.mcf.gov.bc.ca/fasd
Help for educators in meeting the learning needs of students with FASD: http://www.fasdoutreach.ca/
B.C. Liquor Store’s FASD awareness posters and brochures, including information to order them: www.bcldb.com/corporate-social-responsibility/responsible-use/fasd-awareness
There are specialized programs for women including BC Women’s Fir Square Program: www.bcwomens.ca/our-services/pregnancy-prenatal-care/pregnancy-drugs-alcohol and Sheway: http://sheway.vcn.bc.ca/