If you haven't seen the latest MCYS announcement regarding FASD, be sure and go to http://www.children.gov.on.ca/htdocs/English/specialneeds/fasd/letter-2017-09-08.aspx. However, I have also been making weekly phone calls to Jacqueline Hamelin, MPP Kiwala's Executive Assistant to get clarification on how they are rolling out the 6 step, 26 million initiative announced in the last budget and received a reply yesterday. https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B4G_PCr5fBe9b2RpNXNGZ19yOGpfXy1MaTVHeHZ4QUJVb3k4/view?usp=sharing
The first factor that stands out is the MCYS is separating the six initiatives as independent of each other. They have also prioritized the six initiatives with the one stop internet hubs as number one, establishment of parent support groups as number two and research projects as number three. The remaining three initiatives are being rolled out later including the Key Worker.
The second factor is the fact they are accepting letters of expressions as the first step. This means any organization/ NOT INDIVIDUALS can write a one page letter stating their desire to be considered for that particular initiative. They will then send an organization the application form where the organization will state their objectives and how they will be implementing them.
This has huge impact on how our FASD network and groups need to proceed. The LLG FASD Work Group is currently establishing their communication policy and putting the final touches on their Internet hub. We will then be taking that information to a third party webmaster and encouraging them to write the letter of expression using the information the LLG FASD Workgroup gives them.
As a former teacher of high school media studies, I would like to pass along my vision of what this one stop hub should look like. The website needs to have a Facebook page and Twitter account associated with it. The website will have a home page, a mission page, an events page focusing on conferences and support group meetings, a community partners page including how to contact the Key Worker and community services, a resource page, a sharing page where people impacted by FASD can submit blogs, stories or videos and a contact page. This website needs to be designed to read which device is opening the site because it will look different on a laptop versus tablet versus phone. It is more of a static site to provide information which is why the Facebook and Twitter is important. They allow interaction and will reach a larger public audience than a static website. The best part of Facebook is once the account is setup, parent support groups or any other organization can live stream through their page any guest speaker or presentation and save it onto the site for future usage. So the information isn't being presented to 50 people, it is going to 500 people. Add in twitter feeds during the presentation and now you are getting 1000 people who will watch that presentation. And you can download that Facebook link into a movie editor and upload it into a Youtube video to get an even larger audience. To accomplish this, you need a smartphone or tablet with a $50 tripod stand to hold it and start recording. Any professional webmaster can set all of this up in an hour. If I was to ranked the current FASD websites right now, I really like the Halton FASD one. The Niagara FASD Coalition and Chatham FASD sites also have the required elements but are in need of additional resources and funding.
What organizations need to be aware of, though, anyone can do this. Any individual with the technical know-how can easily create a one-stop hub. You register with the CRA as a publishing company, set up your ISBN account, partner up with a person in the FASD community and away you go. And they will be controlling the message with no supervision as to what information is being disseminated.
Our FASD community needs to be proactive like the LLG FASD WorkGroup and be involved in the application process for these one stop hubs. Find a local webmaster organization and get them to write that letter of expression on your behalf. I would include in the terms of agreement that they have to hire a local adult directly impacted by FASD as a consultant in site development and maintenance with input from the local FASD network.
My next blog will be on initiative number two - augmenting and supporting parent support groups.