By Cecilia Nasmith/Today’s Northumberland
Five Counties Children’s Centre announces an easy click-and-connect option for families concerned about their child’s development – the SmartStart Hub.
Launched earlier this month, the SmartStart Hub makes it easier for these parents and caregivers in Northumberland County (as well as Haliburton County, Peterborough and the City of Kawartha Lakes) to get the help they need for children and youth up to 19 years of age (or age 21, if still in school).
Five Counties is now one of 22 Children’s Treatment Services in Ontario offering SmartStart Hub services.
The portal lets families register their child and request services, the announcement said., and all information shared is confidential and secure. No physician or professional referral or diagnosis is required. Five Counties staff will follow up with the parent or guardian for a more thorough intake assessment and subsequent referral to the most appropriate services for the child with concerns related to moving around, performing daily tasks (like feeding and eating), communicating and getting along with others, and taking part in routine activities.
Program Manager Alex Cranfield likened the innovation to a front door that provides access to local support and services for anyone concerned about his or her child’s development.
“SmartStart simplifies the process, as we do the work to connect you to the right service or care agency,” Cranfield said in the press release.
Not only is Smart Start available to families, Cranfield added, but also to other parties seeking referrals, such as schools, health-care professionals and community agencies.
Services offered through the SmartStart include speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, parent coaching, assessments and more – “provided in a friendly, supportive and culturally safe environment that includes the family as a full partner int he care being provided,” Cranfield said.
SmartStart Hub is being spearheaded by Five Counties with the support of a number of other partner agencies. The list includes the Haliburton Kawartha Pine Ridge District Health Unit, Kinark Child and Family Services, Northumberland Child Development Centre, Point In Time Centre for Children, Youth and Parents, BGC Kawarthas, Oak Valley Health System (Infant Hearing Program and Low/Blind Vision Program), Dnaagdawenmag Binnoojiiyag Child and Family Services, and Peterborough Public Health.
Cranfield noted that accessing the SmartStart Hub does not prevent families from contacting a service provider directly if they know what a child’s needs are and where to go for help.
This past year, Five Counties served more than 6,200 children and youth in its region, the highest number in its nearly 50-year history.
For more information, visit www.fivecounties.on.ca