Resource for parents of children with disabilities
Parents of children with disabilities have a new online resource to help connect them to services and organizations offering financial assistance. Launched at the end of September 2021 by L’Étoile de Pacho, Le Répertoire Fondations pour enfants handicapés is the first virtual directory of Quebec foundations that are dedicated exclusively to the needs of children with disabilities.
The website and its directory are aimed at all parents of children with special needs aged 18 and under who reside in the province of Quebec, and can also be used by health care professionals so that they can better support these parents.
Developed over three years
Knowing where to look and accessing financial aid is not a simple task. In a 2019 survey on financial assistance from Quebec foundations, approximately 45% of the 300 families surveyed revealed that they did not immediately know where to find this type of information.
Amélie Desaulniers, coordinator of the project, says that this can be discouraging to parents, and can cause them to abandon their search for help. “We knew that this was a big concern. Parents want to have access to funding from foundations, but they don’t know how to do the research. They don’t know where to get the information, and they get overwhelmed in the process.”
It’s in response to this time-sensitive predicament that Nathalie Richard, director and founder of L’Étoile de Pacho had the idea to develop a centralized tool for parents and families who are searching for aid and services, and who are often already financially vulnerable.
Directory facilitates access to funding
Herself a mother to a young child with special needs, Desaulniers understands being stuck trying to navigate the search process. “The main objective of the Répertoire is to simplify research and facilitate access to funding for parents of children with special needs. To collect all the information and do the work for parents, because they already have many, many other things to do and already so much stress,” she says.
While a few large foundations are well-known to parents through advertising and easy-to-find websites, the Répertoire searched extensively to find lesser-known organizations also offering support. “We had to go online; on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. We had to call and send emails. It was a lot of work, but it was very interesting and the foundations were very happy to speak to us and find a way to connect with parents,” explained Desaulniers.
Easy-to-use search feature
Through the user-friendly platform, parents and professionals can quickly access an exhaustive list of Quebec foundations that are most likely to meet their needs. To facilitate the procedure, searches can be carried out according to region, eligibility criteria, or the categories of expenses to be expected. Users can view a list of organizations with an overview of the financial assistance that’s offered, eligible ages, and types of disabilities that are supported. Contact information is included, and to further ease the process users are directed to the appropriate page of each organization’s website. “The goal here was to bring the parent as far as possible to their main objective,” says Desaulniers, “so there are fewer steps for them to go through and less opportunity for them to be discouraged.”
The website is currently only available in French, though Desaulniers explained that they are exploring options to improve language access and accessibility to parents who may have disabilities themselves.
Organizations wishing to be added to the directory can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org who will contact you to complete your file.
About L’Étoile de Pacho – Support network for parents of children with disabilities
Founded in Montreal in 2013, L’Étoile de Pacho is a community organization whose mission is to empower parents of children with disabilities. Thanks to a team of parents who themselves have a disabled child, L’Étoile de Pacho offers, free of charge, services that allow families to better adapt to their situation and regain their power, to act and experience better social inclusion. www.etoiledepacho.ca
The completion of the new directory comes thanks to the support of the Lucie and André Chagnon Foundation and the Mirella and Lino Saputo Foundation.
Visit repertoirefondations.ca for more information.