Dr. Hébert, Founder and Chair, began her journey to transform the status quo for families living with a child who has a disability, starting with a deepened understanding about the widening gaps in specialized services in hospitals, schools, rehabilitation centres and recreation programs. In 2000, she discovered long wait times for children and families to access specialized services in Quebec. In 2009, a non-profit 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®, non-profit children organization in Quebec (formerly MIIA).
In 2015, the organization vowed to help even more children and families, with knowledge of long wait times and many wait lists in paediatric health centers across Canada, and challenges in navigating the healthcare, education and social services systems for children and their family. That year, the mandate changed to build community capacity in 2015. 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 is indeed expanding. Buds in Bloom®|Bourgeons en Éclat®, is a Not-for-profit Federal Incorporation, with an extra-provincial registration in Alberta. The original Quebec non-profit organization is thus dissolved.
The Child and Family Story
To get support, parents inevitably turn to hospitals, rehabilitation centers, school boards or city departments for services in diagnosing, evaluating and treating their child, and to help their child learn and participate in sports and recreation, far too often having to wait or having to jump through hoops to navigate the system. In fact, some parents report that they waited four years before their child received support services in health care, education, social services, or leisure and recreation. A common experience reported by parents of children with varying abilities across Canada is that of challenges with navigating the system to access support services.
These circumstances cause very high stress levels in parents. In fact, according to research studies, there is evidence that parents with a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder show a significantly higher level of stress and lower quality of life compared to parents of children with another disability or other special needs than autism. Parental stress is part of parenting, so when a disability in their child is added to the mix, stress is generally increased; and when the disability is complex like autism, stress is heightened even more. In addition, the costs incurred to provide these children additional 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 shift in healthcare. The cost of support services could be significantly reduced by first understanding that all children and families in Canada have basic rights, and accepting our societal responsibility to contribute to a collective multi-tier community-organizational-policy effort to provide parents with the tools and support to help their child and family bloom today, with relief, hope and empowerment.