Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) Awareness Day is September 9. This year’s theme is “Let’s Talk About It.”
FASD is a life-long disability that is caused by women drinking alcohol while pregnant. The Public Health Agency of Canada estimates that one out of every 100 children have an FASD. That means that in 2012, approximately 150 Saskatchewan babies were born with an FASD.
“Raising awareness about the realities of FASD remains a commitment for our government,” Social Services Minister June Draude said. “The harm that alcohol can cause to a developing fetus will last for a lifetime.”
To assist with preventative measures, the Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority (SLGA) has contributed $150,000 to two Saskatchewan agencies that promote awareness and prevention of FASD.
The FASD Support Network of Saskatchewan will receive $85,000 to support its FASD Prevention and Awareness in Academic Settings Project. The goals for this year’s project are to reach students from rural and remote areas of the province, deliver in-class FASD workshops and provide FASD resource packages and instructor’s kits. The funding will also be used to continue delivery of the publication Living with FASD.
“FASD creates many challenges for individuals, families and communities and this funding will allow us to provide support at the local level while also raising overall awareness aimed at prevention,” FASD Support Network of Saskatchewan Executive Director Leslie Allen said. “We appreciate the continued financial support from the provincial government.”
The Saskatchewan Prevention Institute will receive $65,000 to support their continued “No thanks I’m pregnant” education and awareness campaign which can be seen in bars, restaurants, buses and SLGA locations, as well as other ongoing awareness and prevention outreach.
“FASD is a complex issue requiring complex and creative prevention strategies,” Saskatchewan Prevention Institute Executive Director Noreen Agrey said. “FASD Awareness Day presents a great opportunity for organizations like ours to work with communities throughout the province.”
Government is implementing significantly enhanced strategies to prevent FASD and to support individuals affected by it. The 2013-14 Budget allocated $1.8 million, which will support both individuals and their families. These enhancements include:
- Increased annualized funding for three model projects (Saskatoon, Regina, Prince Albert) to provide intensive FASD prevention programming to pregnant women at high risk for having a child with FASD until the child reaches two years of age.
- Mentorship services through the Central Urban Métis Federation Incorporated to help individuals with FASD to build life skills and to be engaged in positive vocational and recreational activities.
- An addictions and life skills program for individuals with FASD through the Community Clinic in the Regina Qu’Appelle Health Region.
- An FASD prevention strategy targeting northern youth and additional health care provider training that will increase capacity to screen pregnant women for alcohol consumption and to provide brief interventions for women with at-risk drinking behaviour, led by the Saskatchewan Prevention Institute.
- Psychologist services for existing multidisciplinary health care teams in both Regina Qu’Appelle and Saskatoon Health Regions, providing FASD diagnostic, assessment and intervention planning services.
- An FASD family support program that provides specialized support to families that include either a parent or child with FASD, offered by the FASD Support Network. Direct supports may include assistance with parenting skills and accessing services and advocacy within other systems. The program also reaches out to other areas of the province to support the founding of parent support groups.
The Government of Saskatchewan continues to work with regional health authorities, community-based agencies and other organizations to build comprehensive service systems for individuals with FASD and to prevent FASD in Saskatchewan.