Monday, June 27, 2022

Rising to the Challenges

By Dr. Shagun Bhanot, PhD, 24 Sep, 2015

    The Centre for Child Development continues to deliver exceptional services in its selfless dedication to help children with special needs reach their potential.


    “Helping children with special needs reach their potential” is the mission of The Centre for Child Development (TCFCD), which provides specialized pediatric medical rehabilitation to 2,700 children with special needs and their families through 30,000 service sessions per year. However, the collaborative team efforts at TCFCD take their mission beyond just help, and what they offer is a haven where children with severe developmental disabilities and their families find love, trust, care, hope, and above all, courage to dream and to live a normal life.

    From its humble beginnings in 1953 as an Association formed by a group of parents whose children had cerebral palsy, TCFCD has grown to provide intensive and diverse services to children with developmental disabilities under the same umbrella that include: communication therapy, family services, medical referrals and assessments, occupational therapy, physiotherapy, supported child care, integrated preschools, psychology services, recreation therapy, and specialty services such as eating skills team, equipment team, casting team, equipment and toy loan program, and technical services.

    In fact, TCFCD is one of the few centres to have registered psychologists on staff and a Psychology Services department. Dr. Brian Katz, Director of Psychology and Family Services at TCFCD, takes pride in the work of his team and the department which, in his words, “develops strategies to support children and families at home and the community.” The registered psychologists not only support children who have behavioural issues such as anxiety, difficulties with attention, and mood swings but also provide counselling to their families to better manage these behavioural concerns. Dr. Katz also gives credit to his staff for creating a communal bonding among the families who are together in the complex process of raising a child with disability and are overcoming this isolating experience in unison with TCFCD.

    Dr. Katz also mentions the Multi-Cultural services that TCFCD provides through staff from numerous cultures to facilitate better communication and connection with the children and their families. He mentions Dr. Poonam Tangri, who has contributed to the Psychology Services department not only through her professional expertise, but also through her fluency in Hindi and Punjabi – that has provided better counselling to many South Asian families who are unable to communicate fluently in English.

    Dr. Tangri, a registered psychologist, joined TCFCD in 2007 and has since provided consultation and assistance to children and youth. She also started the South Asian Dads Group at the centre that aims at bringing dads together to help them share their experiences as caregivers to children with behavioural concerns. This group provides a space for fathers to get involved in the physical, emotional and intellectual development of the child. This is a great step in the family-centred care approach.

    The Psychology Services department is also unique as it has expanded the training for families to improve children’s daily living skills to grandparents as well, for in South Asian culture, many times under the joint family system the grandparents are the primary caretakers of the child. This is a clear testimony to TCFCD’s ever evolving strategies and programs to extend comprehensive and best practice services to the children with special needs and their families in Surrey, Langley, Delta and White Rock.

    In this constant endeavour to provide long term and complex care tailored to meet each child’s unique circumstances, TCFCD is trying its best to eliminate waitlists and reach out to as many families as possible. While the centre is able to help 2,400 children every year, recent studies indicate that there are 10 times that many children, or 25,000 children aged 0-19 in the South Fraser Area, who have a disability that could benefit from TCFCD. Population growth in Surrey; limited capacity of hospitals to extend long term care; increased rates of diagnosis of developmental and autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are some of the factors leading to a greater demand in
    the specialised and multi-disciplinary services that TCFCD has to offer.

    TCFCD and the Provincial Government are working in collaboration to service more children, with the centre planning to significantly increase the number of children it serves. TCFCD needs the support and involvement of the community at large and greatly appreciates the donations from its patrons. It is also trying to raise funds, with the support of the Child Development Foundation, by organizing events almost every month in their efforts to reach out to more families seeking their help.

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