Special Needs Care
Helping children with developmental and medical special needs
Special Needs Program
Annie’s Havens is a foster care organization focused on children with developmental and medical special needs.
Special needs child and youth are at the core of why we are involved in the child welfare sector. We constantly receive referrals for children with developmental, physical and medical special needs.
It is difficult to find homes for special needs children. These children need committed caregivers with experience. We have a great training program but experience is key to understanding the issues involved.
Helpful backgrounds include nursing, personal support work or caring for a close family member. Annie’s Havens also provides Personal Support Workers (PSW) for kids with higher care needs. Support hours range from 15 to 60 hours per month. The per diem is $80 – $90 depending on experience, education and wheelchair accessibility (i.e. two (2) children @ $80/day multiplied by a thirty (30) day month = $4800 – or $58,400 per year).
Spectrum of Special Needs
Mobility issues (wheelchair, walker, etc.)
Autism Spectrum Disorder
Global Developmental Delays
Tube/Intravenous Feeding (G-Tube, TPN)
Adoption and Long-Term Care
Adoption takes a long time for special needs kids. The more severe the special needs, the longer it takes. Finding adoptive parents is not realistic for some of our kids. Foster parents need to be prepared to care for the kids over a much longer period of time than others.
Experience with Special Needs
Often it’s asked, “Do I need to have knowledge in all special needs?”. No. It is not expected that parents be a “Swiss army knife” catering to all needs. Most referrals are for children with autism and mobility issues. A therapeutic background in autism is an asset for kids with ASD. Wheelchair accessible homes are required for kids with mobility issues. All other issues are discussed during recruitment and in the home study. Kids who are medically fragile or palliative are the most difficult. They require a massive commitment as they are frequently hospitalized.
Not all kids need support staff. Support is provided depending on how much intervention is needed for daily care. An 8-year old needs diaper changes and is unable to feed herself would have a PSW, for example. Another example, a 6-year old is developmentally delayed and needs help picking out his clothes and getting ready for school would not have a PSW. There are other factors as well which are not covered in these examples.
Trauma Focused Program by Safe Harbours Family Treatment Homes
There has been a significant increase in the need for trauma focused foster homes in the past several years. These trauma focused foster homes have foster parents with a background in either child psychology, behavioural therapy or a diploma from an accredited Child and Youth Worker program.
Specialized training is provided before the home is licensed and ongoing through in-service sessions. Children with a traumatic life experiences can be difficult to manage and come with exceptional needs. Trauma focused foster homes receive a premium on their per diem to reflect the added time and training that is needed to serve these children and youth. Additional support if given through staffing which may be provided depending on the requirements of the child or youth.
The per diem is $90 – $110 depending on experience, education and placement stability (i.e. two (2) children @ $90/day multiplied by a thirty (30) day month = $5400 – or $65,700 per year).
To learn more about the Safe Harbours Family Treatment Homes program, please visit safeharbours.ca
Oppositional Defiance Disorder
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Encounters with Law Enforcement
Absence Without Leave (AWOL)
Support for Children and Youth
The first goal will be for the youth to be enrolled in school and speak with any relevant special needs staff at the school board. In parallel to school enrolment, a request will be sent to a community mental health agency to access their services. An preliminary assessment on the support needs of the youth will be completed within seven (7) days of placement to determine if any additional support is needed in the home. Additional support may consist of:
Child and Youth Workers
Funding for Immediate Psychological Services
Access to Community Support Programs (Drug Counsellors, etc.)
Physical Aggression and Safety
Annie’s Havens does not accept children who have high levels of physical aggression. Safety of the foster home is essential. When a youth begins to act out physically, a safety assessment will be done to see if it can be managed. If it is determined that safety cannot be ensured, a request will be made for the child to go to a more supportive environment like a group home. While we want to support children and youth with complex trauma history and mental health needs, we cannot put people’s personal safety at risk.