FOOTPRINTS provides respite services for families with children diagnosed on the Autism Spectrum in Durham Region. With programs located in Pickering and Whitby, FOOTPRINTS strives to provide respite care to as many as possible.
Having a child diagnosed with Autism can be one of the most stressful situations a parent ever faces.
The diagnosis is just the beginning of the journey as both the child and parent must learn together how to identify, prepare for and manage the variety of behaviours that make up the Autism Spectrum.
These might include impaired cognition and communication, social deficits, frequent tantrums and other challenging behaviours that often lead to physical and emotional exhaustion for all involved.
Faced with such overwhelming stress and barriers, many parents of children with Autism find themselves overwhelmed and unable to cope.
Respite care can help ease some of the burden on these families. Respite care ensures that, for a few hours each month, the families can enjoy a short but much needed break from the 24/7 care required by these children.
Respite time allows parents to pay extra attention to their other children, spend some time together, run errands or just have some down-time.
The program at FOOTPRINTS is geared towards recreation, rather than therapy, for children. Many children affected by autism spend several hours a week in therapy classes and often this does not provide a lot of time for social play and to just “be”.
Under the guidance of trained volunteers, who are supervised by a trained Program Consultant, FOOTPRINTS offers participants social interaction with others in a safe and happy environment.
About Us – History
FOOTPRINTS was established in 2004 at Dunbarton-Fairport United Church following a request for assistance from a local family.
From this single request has grown a respite program that provides care for children age 13 years of age and under who have been diagnosed on the Autism Spectrum.
In the fall of 2009, FOOTPRINTS opened its second location in Durham Region hosted by St. Mark’s United Church in Whitby.
Securing affordable respite care is difficult for families in Durham Region – not that many community-based, low-cost programs exist.
In the beginning, the program received human resource encouragement and financial support from the United Way of Ajax-Pickering-Uxbridge.
It was their enthusiasm and support that helped FOOTPRINTS welcome our first clients in mid-2004.
And with their support and willingness to share ideas and resources, FOOTPRINTS applied for an Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) grant to allow us to retro-fit equipment in our Pickering location and to create a 5-year Strategic Plan.
This led us to a second successful OTF grant for program and operating needs that has allowed us to expand the program to assist more families in Durham Region and directly led us to our second program location in Whitby, Ontario.