Dr. Hébert, Founder and Chair, began her journey to transform the status quo for families living with a child who has a disability or is at risk for a disability, starting with a deepened understanding about the widening gaps in help services in hospitals, schools, rehabilitation centres and recreation programs. In 2000, she discovered long wait times for children and families to seek and access help services in Quebec. In 2009, a Charity Organization was founded in Quebec with four Directors: Mission for Immediate Intervention and Access for children (MIIA). That year, the “Kids Therapy Now” benefit dinner raised funds to reimburse therapy programs for five children. Just two years later, to meet the growing numbers of children and their family in need and waiting for help across the province, Buds in Bloom, then private practice, became Bourgeons en Éclat | Buds in Bloom, Charity children organization in Quebec (formerly MIIA).
In 2015, the organization vowed to help even more children and families, because of long wait times and many wait lists in child health centers across Canada. Hospitals, specialized schools, health providers and parents of our children, from across Canada, began knocking on our door, expressing that they too need help in solving the pan-Canadian wait time challenges. In many cases, caregivers feel obliged to become full time coordinators of their family care, looking for help, yet not finding help, then finding help, then losing that help, because of aging out of programs, budget cuts, government policy changes, to name a few reasons. Our parents and caregivers often need to leave their profession, losing a sense of their identity as a person, as a community member; losing their sense of connection and belonging. Families across Canada face daily challenges in navigating healthcare, education, social services and government finance support systems leading to a daily battle, advocating for the help that their child and family needs. So, that very same year, in 2015, our mandate changed to build community capacity. While continuing to provide parent support, a wider scope became our objective, by referring our children and families to established specialized service providers in several regions across the province of Quebec; this approach began to broaden our reach.
In 2019, our footprint expanded even more. Buds in Bloom|Bourgeons en Éclat, is now a Charity Federal Corporation, with an extra-provincial registration in Alberta. The original Quebec non-profit organization is thus dissolved, and our head office is in Calgary, Alberta
Our Children and Families Collective Story
Parents inevitably turn to hospitals, rehabilitation centers, school boards or City departments for help in diagnosing, evaluating and treating their child, in facilitating child learning and participation in arts, sports and recreation, and in getting financial help to support the cost of all this needed help. Far too often though families have to wait, jumping through hoops to navigate provincial or territorial and federal systems of care and support, which is exhausting In fact, some parents report that they waited four years or more before their child received help in health care, education, social services, leisure and recreation, or financial support. Applications for Government help can take months to years.
A common experience reported by parents of children with varying abilities across Canada is that of delays, having to repeat oneself, having to re-apply, and having to fight daily, while needing to help-seek and navigate these systems to access help. This experience is shared throughout the lifespan, and is not reserved to childhood only.
Such circumstances cause very high stress levels in parents, and decreased family wellbeing. In fact, according to research studies, there is evidence that parents with a child on the Autism Spectrum show significantly higher levels of stress, and lower quality of life compared to parents of children with another disability or other special needs than Autism. That being said, all parents of a child with disability have heightened stress levels compared to parents of neurotypically developing children. Parental stress is part of parenting, so when a disability is added to the mix, stress is increased, and often accompanied by associated medical conditions. These complex situations require lots of help at all stages of life. In addition, the costs incurred to provide these children and families needed health care, education, social services, sports and recreation services represent billions of dollars for the government and society, and in out-of-pocket expenses to families. Simply put, these dollars could be saved, invested and multiplied with a simple, yet not easy, shift in systems of care. The cost of help could be significantly reduced by first understanding that all children and families in Canada have basic rights. Next, by accepting our collective societal responsibility to contribute to a multi-tier community-organizational-policy effort to provide families with seamless access, ultimately, to help all children and families in Canada to bloom today, with relief, hope and empowerment.
Buds in Bloom is designing solutions to transform these systemic challenges everywhere in Canada, beginning in Alberta and Quebec. To learn about these solutions, visit the services for children page. To be a contributor, visit the Contribute page.
Blooming Summary of 2020