McMaster University

McMaster University

Faculty of
Health Sciences

Families of children with disabilities may lose valuable CanChild resources

Published: December 7, 2009

CanChild, a leading childhood disability research centre at McMaster University, may lose its ability to directly provide information to families of children with disabilities. Funding is running out for its services to translate the latest research into helpful information and to make it available.

One Canadian family in five is raising a child with a significant disability.

For 20 years, the CanChild Centre for Childhoo Disability Research has been an international leader in identifying emerging issues on childhood disabilities through innovative research.  CanChild makes knowledge from its research findings easily accessible to parents, service providers, policy makers and educators.

Its award-winning website ( receives over 4,000 visits a week by users in over 173 countries.  CanChild also links over 2,100 Canadian and international service provider members with each other and with researchers.  Staff members respond to daily inquiries from parents, service providers, researchers and health-care decision-makers around the world.

CanChild investigators will continue their efforts to improve the lives of children and youth with disabilities and their families through their research.  However, funding from the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care contributed to the website, the development of educational resources and other services. That funding has now ended.

New sources of funding are being sought to continue the information services, said Cheryl Missiuna, director of CanChild.

"Access to reliable information is especially critical to making evidence-informed decisions when health care and educational systems are dealing with needs for services and supports that outstrip available resources," she said.

Matt Freeman, who has used CanChild resources over several years, said: "As someone who grew up with a chronic physical disability, I've seen the way that CanChild research has affected my life, even if I didn't realize it at the time. 

"The rehabilitation professionals I have worked with over the years became much more willing to listen to my individual goals, areas of interest and future plans thanks to CanChild’s focus on the client first rather than standard therapeutic practice."

The Oakville mother of a son with developmental coordination disorder has found CanChild resources educational.

"Not only have we educated ourselves about developmental coordination disorder, but thanks to CanChild, we have also been able to educate our son’s classroom teachers, special education staff, principals, board personnel, speech and language therapists, physiotherapists, counselors, doctors, nurses, pediatricians, dentists, optometrists, coaches, camp staff, family, friends and everyone with whom he comes in contact with on a regular basis," Elizabeth Molinaro said.

"As a result, all these people have been able to access CanChild’s simple, practical and usable information to help support our son."

Betty Yundt, a physiotherapist, is one of many service providers who has used CanChild’s resources to keep up to date.

"CanChild has made a large impact on the lives of children with special needs, their families, and the clinicians who work with them. 

"In my busy day, I rely on CanChild's research and the posting of their results and summaries on the website, to guide my practice. CanChild research has reinforced the notion of family-centred care, and this has helped me use these principles when working with ‘my’ children and their families."
Valid XHTML 1.0 Transitional Level Double-A conformance, W3C WAI Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0