Mackenzie Health Centre for Behaviour Health Sciences and Resources for Exceptional Children and Youth-Durham are the newest EKO members
Empowered Kids Ontario (EKO) is delighted to welcome two new members to the association: the Centre for Behaviour Health Sciences at Mackenzie Health (CBHS) and Resources for Exceptional Children and Youth-Durham (RFECY).
EKO CEO Jennifer Churchill says both organizations are considered important players at Ontario’s child development and rehabilitation table and their membership brings opportunity to the association and to its members. “Collaboration is a hallmark of EKO. The voices of these two organizations introduce new perspectives and experiences to the conversation,” says Churchill. “Our culture gives members the freedom to share, confer and debate, and have the conversations that create new value for each of our members, as well as for Ontario kids with disabilities and their families.”
CBHS Manager of Autism & Behaviour Services John Clarke says this was a draw for the organization to join the provincial association. “The strength of each CBHS division is its ability to partner, and for us, membership in EKO brings more opportunities to pursue meaningful connections,” says Clarke. “EKO is well-known and well-regarded for promoting partnerships that benefit kids with disabilities and their families. We want to be part of that, we want to further expand our ability to collaborate with providers and stakeholders—to benefit from their influence on our work, and for the opportunity for CBHS to add value to theirs.”
CBHS stepped up early in the COVID-19 pandemic, partnering with EKO to provide training to more than 2,500 child development and rehabilitation professionals from 37 publicly supported providers across the province, who gained knowledge and experience to deliver virtual care. The training prepared professionals across the province to quickly enhance treatment opportunities, meeting kids and families where they are at, so necessary treatment continued with minimal or no interruption at a time when much has been uncertain.
Resources for Exceptional Children and Youth – Durham Region works collaboratively with many service providers in one of Canada’s fastest growing regions and beyond, to ensure the most effective services for kids with disabilities and their families. RFECY also contributes actively to community groups including the Durham Region Child Care Forum, Durham’s Children and Youth Planning Network, and the Coordinated Service Planning Provincial Network.
“As the province moves to a needs-based Ontario Autism Program, being connected with other providers is more essential than ever,” says RFECY Executive Director Denise Cashley. “EKO membership will broaden our linkages; the association’s diversity of services supports innovation and best practices not only for autism services, but for child development services more generally. It’s exciting to vision what our community can do for the kids and families we serve.”
EKO recently welcomed Sioux Lookout First Nations Health Authority and Firefly to its membership. EKO Chair Penny Smiley notes that growing the association’s membership is critical to ensure EKO represents the comprehensive range of child development and rehabilitation services, especially as Ontario works to build capacity to serve kids with autism and their families. “Adding to this priority, the COVID-19 pandemic has encouraged service innovations while also disproportionately impacting kids with disabilities and their families, magnifying the challenges families are facing,” says Smiley. “EKO members’ response to all of these challenges demonstrates the incredible efforts of publicly funded organizations to go above and beyond to serve kids and families, affirms how important each organization is to their community, and at the same time to unifying child development and rehabilitation providers across Ontario.”