FASSY executive director Wenda Bradley says work can now begin on implementing the FASD action plan that was released Sept. 9 on World FASD Awareness Day. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)

Yukon releases its FASD Action Plan

Seven priorites, 31 actions outlined

The Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Action Plan for the Yukon has been released, setting out seven priorities in a coordinated approach to Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) in the territory.

The action plan was released Sept. 9 – World FASD Awareness Day – by the Yukon government and the FASD interagency advisory committee formed specifically to work on the plan.

“It has taken a long time,” said Wenda Bradley, executive director of the Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Society Yukon (FASSY), in a Sept. 12 interview reflecting on the efforts that began in 2016.

Work can now begin on implementing the plan, she continued, pointing out some efforts are already underway.

The release of the document during a celebration in Shipyards Park marking World FASD Awareness Day, for example, falls under the awareness priority aimed to “broadly promote the plan.”

FASSY is a member of the interagency advisory committee and Bradley stressed the committee took extensive time to ensure sufficient engagement happened with stakeholders including clients, family members, local organizations and others about the plan.

The effort came out of a desire for a more coordinated approach to FASD in the Yukon.

“There are many services and prevention and awareness initiatives in Yukon to support people and families living with FASD. Despite this, gaps still exist,” the plan says.

“Additionally, there has not been a coordinated approach to address the issue of FASD in Yukon. The Yukon FASD Action Plan is a response to this need.”

The seven priorities include supports for people with FASD; support for families and caregivers; awareness; prevention; assessment and diagnosis; knowledge exchange and mentoring; and research and evaluation.

Attached to each priority is a list of actions – 31 in total – such as a pilot project that would enhance supports provided by Correctional Services to those with FASD while they are incarcerated and as they transition back into their community; supporting FASD research and more.

Bradley said the plan outlines what is needed in the territory, but what’s missing and now has to be explored is how to go about implementing the actions.

“It’s going to play out different for each community,” she said, adding there will be a need to create capacity and find new ways to work on and address issues specific to an individual’s and community’s needs.

For Bradley some of the biggest pieces of the plan are in providing supports to those living with FASD as well as raising and increasing awareness. As she pointed out, that is much of the work FASSY focuses on and it’s her hope the plan will result in improved services while educating the public.

Ensuring those with FASD are supported on all fronts and finding ways to do that is important, she said, noting the level and areas of support a person needs will change over time.

As is the case with anyone, a major event in one’s life or changing circumstances can impact what a person needs and how to go about meeting those needs.

It’s important service providers are mindful of that and adjust to those needs, she said.

Under the plan, an inventory of supports and services will be produced and anyone receiving an assessment would be provided with an individualized support plan regardless of whether they get a positive diagnosis. There’s also plans for enhanced counseling services, work with various agencies and governments, plans to ensure a continuum of supported housing is available to those with FASD as well as looking at new ways to support students with FASD.

The interagency committee is continuing to work on implementation.

“We hope the Interagency Advisory Committee and targeted sub-committees will continue to guide this work throughout the implementation,” the plan says.

“Where new actions are needed to achieve the goals in each priority area, a plan will be prepared that identifies objectives, interventions, supports and actions.”

An annual report outlining progress made on the implementation is also to be produced each year.

Contact Stephanie Waddell at stephanie.waddell@yukon-news.com

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