Family Respite Services supports during Covid-19 Emergency Response

The support for families through FRS is an essential service in our community. We are not closed and continue to be there for you. However, as recommended we have most of our staff working remotely and we have closed our main office to visitors during this emergency response. The best way for families and Direct Support Providers to contact Family Coordinators is through their email, but they will also be receiving their voice mail and returning calls. We want to be in contact with you. We ask that Direct Support Providers and families send in timesheets or invoices through email. Send them to

We know that this is a very stressful time for families and direct support providers. We continue to urge families to follow the guidelines provided by Public Health. Our request is that you refrain from having Direct Support Providers come into your home for three weeks if possible. The purpose of this is to minimize personal contact and risk of transmitting Covid-19 to families, children and direct support providers. Families may consider having a close family member support your child for a period of time.

We know that this is not possible for some families. For those families who continue to have someone coming into their home please check in with one another prior to have anyone in the home. On each visit, review whether anyone in the family, the direct support worker or people that live with either party have travelled, are in self-quarantine or are experiencing an symptoms that are associated with Covid-19. If any of these conditions are present then DO NOT go forward with the support. In addition, Direct Support Providers are urged to practice hand washing several times throughout the visit. If any family using in home support or Direct Support Providers who are actively working become affected by Covid-19 we need to know this information immediately.

We know that this will also create hardship for some Direct Support Providers. If you need information about emergency funds or Employment Insurance that are available through the federal government please reach out to us.

Throughout this period we want to urge everyone to stay connected with each other and with us, to believe that we will all get through this and taking these steps will help everyone in our community. We hope to see creative responses from families and Direct Support Providers about ways that you are maintaining connections and doing activities through on line and would love to share your stories! 

Informational web link regarding How to Self Monitor provided Public Health Ontario.

Special Services at Home

The Special Services at Home Program is a family directed program funded provincially by the Ministry of Community and Social Services. The Program is available for children with a developmental disability or physical disability who are residents of Ontario.
The aim of the program is to make it easier for individuals with disabilities to live at home with their families.  This program is available for children up to the age of 18. The Ministry of Community and Social Services currently maintains a waiting list for this program.

The program provides funds for:

  1. Personal growth and development. An individual can be hired to assist the person with a disability to develop life, social, and/or community skills.
  2. Family relief and support. The SSAH program recognizes the added responsibility of caring for a family member with a disability. With this in mind, funding is provided to assist with parent relief, so that family members can have time for their own needs or the needs of other members in the family.

In Windsor/Essex County the administration of the Special Services at Home program is overseen by Family Respite Services, with service being delivered through three local agencies. The agencies are Family Respite Services, Community Living Essex County and Community Living Windsor. A family does have the option of administering the funding themselves. Funding is provided to families on an annual contractual basis. The Ministry of Community and Social Services determines the amount of funding available for each individual applicant.

Family Respite Services will assist families who have children (infancy to 18 years old) who are eligible for SSAH with all aspects of their contracts.  If a family contracts with FRS to administer their funding from SSAH:

  1. FRS Coordinators will work with and assist families in completing the initial application and all subsequent applications on an annual basis.
  2. FRS Coordinators will assist families in recruiting support workers, developing individualized goals and planning a work schedule that meets the needs of the child, other family members and the worker.
  3. Often, support workers are individuals that the family may already know.  Sometimes the family may not have an individual in mind and then the FRS coordinator will assist in recruiting a worker from the child/family's community network. FRS also has support workers who have applied directly to the agency and are not initially connected to a family.
  4. Prior to meeting/working with a family, the support worker must be screened through the agency and must meet all requirements for employment. Unless a family recruits a worker to work with their family alone, any person who wishes to become an in home worker must complete an online training course. More information about this course is available at an information session at FRS. The agency requests a current police clearance, references, and employment history from each prospective support worker before they are even introduced to the family. When support workers are introduced to and interviewed by a family, they will only be hired for that contract once the family makes the final decision. FRS employs the support worker and is responsible for supervising the worker and for paying wages to that worker out of the funds that are agreed upon with the family and the Ministry of Community and Social Services. Families are responsible for training and supervising the support worker in their home.

Family Respite Services collaborates with families to ensure that the partnership between the agency, family and worker is successful and satisfying and that the child ultimately benefits from our combined efforts.

If you need more information about the Special Services at Home
contact Wendy Gosselin 519 972 9688 ext 145.

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