Families in Chatham-Kent will have a chance to recharge this year thanks to a program offered by Linck Child, Youth & Family Supports, and funded by Women United, an affinity group of the United Way, Chatham-Kent.

The Family Respite Program offers support to children and families affected by mental health challenges. It provides opportunities for children and youth to participate in camps, therapeutic recreation, and other extracurricular activities, which allows parents and caregivers to take a break, recharge, and look after their own mental health and wellbeing.

Recent reviews estimate that parents and caregivers of children and youth with mental health needs face significant challenges. In addition to the more than 100 hours of additional care they provide each year, parents miss more work time than other caregivers. This can create a financial burden for families. Respite opportunities offer parents and caregivers breathing room where they can address their own needs and devote time to siblings. It also allows the affected youth a chance just to be kids – socializing, having fun, and taking part in activities.

“We know there is a critical need for respite opportunities in Chatham-Kent,” says Carol Moore, Director of Service for Mental Health, with Linck. “This funding will allow us to sustain our support to families. We provide opportunities and support to approximately 60 children and their families each year. The $15,000 provided by Women United will fill a need that is growing in our community.”

The need for respite support was identified by the Mental Health Social Planning & Action (SPA) Table, a network of nonprofit and healthcare professionals.

“I’m heartened to see the tangible impact of our collective efforts in addressing the pressing mental health needs of our community,” says Cathy deBresser-Knowler, Public Health Educator and Mental Health Table Facilitator. “The partnership between our table and Women United demonstrates our shared commitment to prioritize child and family mental health, especially in the face of heightened challenges post-pandemic. With rates of anxiety, depression, and substance use disorders on the rise, the importance of respite programs cannot be overstated. This grant only sustains vital supports for families and symbolizes our ongoing dedication to fostering resilience and well-being for all.”

Women United is made up of passionate women in Chatham-Kent who dedicate their time, talents, and donations to addressing the urgent needs facing women, and their families, in the region. Recent projects have included funding the Be Safe app, which puts mental health resources in the hands of those who need them.

The total on the cheque reflects the amount donated to the Family Respite Program ($15,000) and the continuation of funding towards the BeSafe App in Chatham-Kent ($4,000)

Image L-R Joelle Brown-Detailleur (UWCK Resource Development Associate); Maureen Geddes (UWCK CEO); Jenn Prothero (Mental Health Social Planning & Action Table); Carol Moore (Director of Mental Health, Linck); Cathy deBresser-Knowler (Public Health Educator, CK Public Health Unit & Mental Health Social Planning and Action Table Facilitator); Kaitlyn Marchand (KIDS Team Service Coordinator – Family Service Kent); Ruth Dekker (Chair, Women United Executive); Shawna McLean (Service Coordinator, Linck); Karen Kirkwood-Whyte (Women United); Scott Rogers (KIDS Team Lead – Family Service Kent)