Supporting Caring Communities


Over the last several years, groups across Canada have been working towards a greater understanding of, and commitment to, crime prevention and how it affects persons with disabilities

The National Strategy on Community Safety and Crime Prevention, led by Justice Canada in partnership with the Solicitor General of Canada, is one means of creating support within communities to focus on high-risk groups that are more likely to be involved in crime, either as perpetrators, or as victims of crime..

Several projects have been supported through the National Strategy that deal with the issue of fetal alcohol syndrome and fetal alcohol effects (FAS/E).. FAS/E can cause a range of disabilities resulting from alcohol consumption during pregnancy. People with FAS/E may have a small head and body, certain facial characteristics, cognitive disabilities, heart defects, sight and hearing disabilities, joint anomalies. They may also have attention deficits or behavioural and obsessive/compulsive disorders. In fact, research has indicated that FAS/E is the leading cause of mental disabilities in the developed world. According to the World Health organization, the incidence of FAS/E in North America is 1.9 cases per 1,000 live births.

Several projects have been awarded funding through the National Strategy, in an attempt to develop greater understanding of this issue. The first project, run out of Duncan, British Columbia, is entitled, “Seeking Alternatives: Community Interventions with Youth who are Neurologically Impaired.” This is a one-year community development project sponsored by the Cowichan Valley FAS Action Team. It is aimed at identifying and mobilizing existing community resources to support people with fetal alcohol syndrome and associated neurological disorders. Project objectives include the development of concrete alternatives to crime and illegal activities. The project’s main objectives are:

• to develop a sustainable community infrastructure that will support children, youth, families and caregivers of those with neurological disabilities;
• to build a healthy and responsive environment for children and youth (plus families and caregivers) who have neurological disabilities;
• to implement strategies that prevent problems before they arise; and
• to encourage, within a community and cultural context, the values, skills and lifestyles that help individuals with neurological disabilities to define their limitations and build on their talents and potential.

Some of the activities include workshops, a peer mentorship program, a databank, a newsletter and media releases. The goal of this project is to assist children and youth with neurological disabilities to become more successfully integrated into the Cowichan community. The Management Team leading the project is composed of various community members, including a lawyer, a paralegal, a parole officer and several proactive parents who have been involved with this issue for many years.

A second project, based in Surrey, British Columbia, concerns mobilization efforts and research to develop a community resource entitled Fetal Alcohol Syndrome/Effects: A Manual for Community Caring. It is sponsored by the FAS/E Support Network of BC with the support of Health Canada and Justice Canada. The target groups for this particular project are families, children and women.

This initiative focuses on strengthening working partnerships, identifying current training materials and creating a clear definition of the needs for training on FAS/E in communities throughout Canada. A group of 10 key stakeholders provide ongoing guidance to the project, including identifying how partner agencies themselves can benefit from the project. In addition, the project is addressing major risk factors for crime and victimization, since those with FAS need community support to counter the effects and factors associated with FAS/E. The manual could eventually be used across Canada as a resource for the establishment of community networks addressing the issues.

A recent update on this project reveals that the final report on research and consultations is being prepared. Fifteen community round-table meetings have been held across the country. The outcome showed a need for a training program and the development of a manual to educate front-line professionals about FAS/E. It also included suggestions on what should be included in the manual, how it should be organized and the types of training to accompany the manual. So far, the response and enthusiasm for this project has been exceptionally positive.

By supporting these and other projects, the National Strategy has taken the first steps towards promoting healthier communities in Canada. Only by understanding the underlying causes and consequences of crime within our communities will we be able to create caring communities that support all of its members.

For more information:

National Crime Prevention Centre
Department of Justice
St. Andrew’s Tower, 284 Wellington St.
Ottawa, ON K1A 0H8
Toll-free: 1-877-302-NCPC
Tel.: (613) 941-9306
Fax: (613) 952-3515

FAS/E Support Network of B.C.
151-10090 152nd St., Ste. 187
Surrey, BC V3R 8X8
Tel.: (604) 589-1854
Fax: (604) 589-8438

Cowichan Valley FAS Action Team
3497 Gibbins Rd., Ste. 14
Duncan, BC V9L 6C9
Tel.: (250) 746-1797
Fax: (250) 746-0700


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