Employment Opportunity: Skills Society


Supporting the citizenship of people with disabilities


SKILLS is a progressive community-based agency which provides a range of supports to people with disabilities.

Due to an expansion of services, we are currently looking for 9 Community Support Workers II to join our team in Community Supports Outreach.

These are permanent full-time positions offering 40hrs/wk supporting people who live in Edmonton’s inner city neighbourhoods. There is some flexibility with hours and days worked depending on the support needs. The majority of hours will be Monday to Friday during the day, but some evening and or weekend hours are possible.

Successful applicants will have a combination of education and experience along with knowledge and background in community inclusion, person-centred planning and advocacy. Experience supporting individuals with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder and addictions is a must. Experience working in the inner city along with an ability to work independently and think on your feet would be definite assets.

A vehicle is required along with a Driver’s Abstract and adequate insurance. A current (within 6 months of date of issue) Criminal Record Check is also required.

Starting wage range is $21.00 to $23.64 per hour and is commensurate with education and experience.

Please forward resumes along with a covering letter, quoting ref. #OR18 to the Human Resources Manager.

Skills Society

#203, 10408 – 124 Street NW

Edmonton, AB  T5N 1R5

Fax: 780-482-6395




In The News: No option but indeterminate sentence for dangerous offender with FASD


There is little doubt a 33-year-old man’s inability to successfully deal with his violent behaviour is related to his FASD diagnosis.

But while a Regina Court of Queen’s Bench judge recognized the struggles faced by Dallas Dwayne Whitebird, he determined the safety of the public meant nothing but an indeterminate prison sentence could mitigate the risk.

Whitebird’s dangerous offender (DO) hearing wrapped up earlier this week with a decision from Justice Fred Kovach, declaring the man a DO and handing down the sentence.

But the judge didn’t do so lightly.

“I acknowledge and understand that he is a violent individual, but I am also mindful that but for his criminal behaviour, this individual would likely be residing in an adult group home,” Kovach said. “He would be unable to manage day-to-day life without support and guidance. He does not have the capacity to care for himself within the framework of our society, and society has failed him throughout his life.”

Whitebird was convicted back in September 2012 of aggravated assault, but was not sentenced until this week. The offence, committed in the summer of 2011, involved an intoxicated Whitebird punching his older half-sister. She hit a door hard enough to smash her jaw — an injury that caused a serious break from which she never fully recovered before her death a few years ago.

Whitebird was far from a stranger to violence, having spent the largest part of his life in custody since age 14. Court heard his record contains close to 15 entries for violence and firearms offences.

Kovach said Whitebird was in custody for his sister’s assault when he earned a seven-year sentence for slashing the throat of a fellow inmate.

That history left no question in the judge’s mind Whitebird has demonstrated the pattern of repetitive violent behaviour required for a DO designation.

The product of what Kovach described as a “chaotic” childhood, Whitebird was exposed to substance abuse and violence from an early age. His mother a residential school survivor, she developed a drinking problem and struggled as a parent.

Whitebird spent time in various foster homes and eventually, at age 12, started drinking and using marijuana.

Since diagnosed with FASD, Whitebird is considered “cognitively low-functioning” and lacks impulse control. His resulting difficulty with programming intended to curb his violent behaviour was chief among reasons Kovach decided an indeterminate sentence was necessary. Two forensic psychologists who assessed Whitebird found it unlikely he would be able to grasp and retain the material he’d need to in order to change.

One of the psychologists believed the use of the Regional Psychiatric Centre as a home institution for Whitebird could help — a finding with which Kovach agreed. The judge made a recommendation to Correctional Service Canada (CSC) that Whitebird be placed in that institution on a permanent basis — or at least until he is able to make use of lessons learned in programming so as to safely release him.

“The CSC has a responsibility to protect the public from offenders, but it cannot be blind to the need for rehabilitation and support for offenders,” Kovach said. “Whitebird represents a failure by CSC to accommodate the needs of an individual with severe cognitive impairments.”

Even if he is eventually released, Kovach noted Whitebird’s cognitive issues mean he will require community assistance for the rest of his life.

Retrieved from https://leaderpost.com/news/crime/no-option-but-indeterminate-sentence-for-dangerous-offender-with-fasd



Truth & Reconciliation Call to Action #34: A Framework for Action

The FASD Prevention Conversation Project

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s (TRC) Call to Action 34 calls on national, provincial and territorial governments to make changes to the criminal justice system to improve outcomes for offenders with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD).

Truth & Reconciliation Call to Action #34: A Framework for Action provides background on the complex issue of individuals with FASD in the justice system with a goal to take up the TRC’s Call to Action to help improve outcomes for individuals with FASD. As well, it acknowledges the ongoing impacts of the Indian Residential School (IRS) system and provides mechanisms to bring about necessary changes in the areas of education, access, training, justice, evaluation and community supports.

The Framework for Action is part ofCanFASD’s ongoing commitment to take up the Calls to Action and to be actively involved in work and partnerships that focus on reconciliation and improving the lives…

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Alberta Community and Social Services: PDD Community Conversations

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The community-appointed panel leading the Persons with Developmental Disabilities (PDD) program review are hosting community conversations across Alberta.

The letter above (please click on image) or here, provides some more details about upcoming opportunities to meet with the panel and provide feedback into the PDD review in a community near you.

For more information about the review panel and upcoming community conversation sessions, visit the PDD Program Review website.

New screening tool to improve outcomes for kids with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder


Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) has often been called the ‘invisible disability’ due to its high rate of non- or misdiagnosis among children. Now, a new screening tool being developed by the University of South Australia will enable earlier detection and much needed support for thousands of families affected by this condition.

The first of its kind to target young , the new screening will capture the breadth of cognitive and behavioural difficulties experienced by children aged 4 to 12 living with FASD.

FASD is an impairment to the brain caused when a developing baby is exposed to alcohol. A permanent and incurable condition, people with FASD experience significant intellectual, behavioural, health and learning difficulties that impact every aspect of their lives.

While some children with FASD will show a set of facial features – a short horizontal opening of the eye, an indistinct groove between the nose and the upper lip, and a thin upper lip – 80 per cent children with FASD show no physical signs at all.

UniSA researcher and Ph.D. candidate with the Australian Centre for Child Protection, Stewart McDougall, says FASD is difficult to diagnose because health professionals often don’t know enough about the condition and this contributes to it being commonly overlooked or attributed to another cause.

“Children with FASD can exhibit behaviours such as hyperactivity, tantrums, impulsivity, difficulties understanding the consequences of their actions, poor social interactions, and learning difficulties,” McDougall says.

“And while behaviours vary for each child, many of the identifying characteristics are also associated with conditions like Autism and ADHD – and in some unfortunate instances, explained away as bad behaviour or poor parenting practices– all of which lead to misunderstanding and misdiagnosis.

“Without early intervention, children with FASD risk of poor education outcomes—including , suspension, expulsion, and drop out—as well as , alcohol and other drug problems and increased contact with youth justice.

“We urgently need a better way to identify these children early to ensure that supports can be provided early.”

Click here to read full article.

CanFASD: FASD in Special Populations

urlEarlier this week, we posted about the rates of FASD in the general population. Women drink during pregnancy for many reasons, and some of the factors that might increase the risk of having a child with FASD include a woman’s nutrition, socioeconomic status, experience of depression, other substance use, and social connections. These factors can affect women from any age group, community, or cultural background. However, some groups are thought to experience higher rates of FASD, including children in care, individuals involved in the justice system, Indigenous communities, and new Canadians.

Child Welfare

  • There have been many studies about FASD with children in the welfare system, foster care, and orphanages around the world
  • In 2013, researchers reviewed studies from Brazil, Canada, Chile, Eastern Europe, Israel, Russia, Spain, Sweden, and the US, and estimated a pooled FASD rate of 18%
  • In Canada, estimated rates of FASD among children in care have ranged from 3 to 11%. This is thought to be an underestimate, and the percentage of children in care with suspected FASD is significantly higher

 Justice System

  • Most of the studies in this area have been done in Canada and the US, though some research is emerging in Australia, Brazil, and Sweden
  • In Canada, estimated rates of FASD among youth who are involved in the justice system range from 11%-23%, and among adults, researchers have reported rates of 10%-18%

Indigenous Communities

  • One of the common myths about FASD is that it is an “Aboriginal issue” however, there is little high-quality evidence to support this claim
  • The limited evidence in Canada points to rates that range widely, from 0.7% to 27% depending on the specific group studied and how the research was conducted
  • It is very important to note that continued surveillance, stigmatization, and stereotyping of Indigenous populations may contribute to the misbelief that FASD is over-represented in these communities and further perpetuate the marginalization experienced by Indigenous children, women, families, and communities

 New Canadians

  • Very little research exists on the rates of FASD among new Canadians
  • More research is needed to understand whether or how risk factors experienced in this group may differ from native-born Canadian women and may change with acculturation

Click here to read the full issue paper devoted to this topic.

Visit the CanFASD website for more information and resources related to the rates of FASD in Canada and elsewhere.