When it comes to adoption support, we have been fortunate. Our son came home to us at almost two years of age. He had global developmental delays, and while in care, was receiving private stimulation therapy and was in a Preschool Speech and Language government funded program. During the probationary period of our adoption, our son’s home CAS agency helped us to get referrals to local governmental programs as we do not live in their region. Between this support from CAS and guidance from our private adoption practitioner, who supervised the placement, we learned of available programs and got on waitlists right away.
We are also lucky to have insurance coverage, albeit limited, through work, for private speech and language therapy which we obtained while on the waitlist for the local Preschool Speech and Language program. Research shows that early intervention can make a significant difference for children’s development and certainly we feel it has been invaluable for our son’s developmental progress that we obtained these services as quickly as we did. Once everything was in place, we accessed Children’s Development Services for physical and occupational therapies, Catulpa Community Support Services for their in home early intervention support, and Preschool Speech and Language program for speech therapy. During the toddler/preschool years we also regularly attended various Ontario Early Years programs. All of these government funded programs are wonderful resources for families unfortunately due to resource constraints they have lengthy wait lists and are not able to provide intensive therapies as they have so many children to serve.
Our son did very well with the physical and occupational therapies as well as the early intervention support he received and was discharged from these programs once he met age appropriate milestones. For speech however, due to his apraxia, he requires ongoing sessions a minimum of twice per week for a couple of years. The preschool speech and language program was not robust enough to meet our son’s needs and ended once he began public school, and our insurance through work was not enough to meet his needs running out in only a few months. The public school system has speech support but we have been told that it will be at least a year before he will receive services and those services will be a maximum of once a week for one ‘block’ a year. Notably this will not be sufficient either once it is in place.
Our son’s home CAS agency had assured us at time of placement that they would provide subsidies to support his needs, which are not covered through government programs or our insurance post adoption, but we did not have that in writing. Learning the extent of our son’s needs we approached his CAS for support but initially did not receive meaningful responses to our repeated requests and inquiries. Months went by, our coverage had long run out, and still we didn’t have an answer. We reduced our son’s sessions to once a week, not wanting him to lose momentum but knowing we wouldn’t be able to continue much longer given how expensive it is. At this point we were giving up on receiving support.
As a part of our support network we belong to a local adoptive parent support group. This group of peers provides a safe place to share triumphs and challenges, providing a listening ear, encouragement, support and guidance to one another along the parenting journey. During a meeting we shared our concerns about our son’s urgent need for speech therapy and how extremely expensive it is. We could see that his delays in speech were impacting his social skills and would have far reaching affects academically as being able to speak and communicate effectively is so foundational. Through discussions we learned that many of our peers have written subsidy agreements covering assessments, counselling, and therapies, and orthodontics. They encouraged us to reach out to our son’s home CAS agency one more time for help.
We are so grateful to the CAS that they did finally respond and, once we provided them with the supporting documentation they requested, we were approved for speech and language subsidy to be reassessed each year. It has been more than a year now since he has had speech sessions twice a week and his progress is amazing. He has gone from being recommended for an assistive communication tool to make his needs known at school, to being able to speak with his teachers, friends and classmates. He hasn’t fully caught up yet and will likely need at least another year of the intensive therapy before he is but the changes in him have been truly monumental and life altering. The once shy and anxious little boy is disappearing and a new, much more risk taking, 5 year old boy is immerging that is making friends and thriving in school.
Support has come in many forms for us - by the CAS, our adoption practitioner and peers – and these supports have empowered us to help our son. Our son would not have progressed so far developmentally without all of the support we received. We don’t know what the future holds and whether additional supports will be needed for him but with a strong network behind us we will be able to advocate for our son and ensure he reaches his full potential.
Our experience exemplifies how timely and accessible #Support4EveryFamily is invaluable to children, their families and ultimately society – strong families create contributing citizens, engaged communities, and an economically stable society. From peer support to financial support for therapies, Ontario can help families come together and stay together, so that all children have a permanent, loving home to grow up and grow old in.