Engaging Hard-to-Reach Families in Paediatric Rehabilitation

Last modified by Support on 2016/03/31 10:26


Increasingly, policy makers, service providers, and researcher have become more interested in the question of how to engage hard-to-reach families. Hard-to-reach families are often considered those families who are eligible for a service, but for various reasons do not use the service available to them. Reasons that a family may not use early intervention services may include, but are not limited to: parental level of concern, poverty, cultural differences, or parental mental health. Organizations may also offer ‘hard-to-access’ services, when factors such as promotion of services, communication with clients, lengthy wait times and lack of flexibility are considered. This presentation will provide a critical review of the literature concerning hard-to-reach families, offer suggestions for parental engagement, and present a case example to illustrate how a care-path was developed, implemented, and evaluated to promote engagement with hard-to-reach families within a paediatric rehabilitation setting. 





Michelle Phoenix


Michelle Phoenix is a PhD candidate in the School of Rehabilitation Science, McMaster University studying engagement in paediatric rehabilitation services for hard to reach families. She is a member of CanChild, Centre for Childhood Disability Research and practices clinically as a Speech-Language Pathologist at KidsAbility, Centre for Child Development in Waterloo, Ontario.  She has a strong interest in evidence-based practice and has supported several clinical research projects and knowledge translation initiatives within the KidsAbility environment. Her research has focused on parents of children with disabilities, with respect to: mental health, supports, access and engagement, and culture. Michelle’s research is supported by a Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Doctoral Award and the Canadian Child Health Clinician Scientist Program Career Enhancement Program Award. 

Brenda Smith-Chant


Brenda Smith-Chant is an Associate Professor and Chair of the Psychology Department at Trent University.  She is also Adjunct Professor with the Milton and Ethel Harris Research Institute at York University and past coordinator of the Developmental Section of the Canadian Psychological Society.  Her research interests are in the area of children’s cognitive development and how early development is influenced by parents, educators, and social policy.  She is the editor of the early numeracy section of the Canadian Language and Literacy Research NETwork's (CLLRNET) online encyclopaedia. 

She has been involved in multiple research projects including Ontario’s Best Start, Cuba-Canada Pathways of Development, Count Me In!  (and Count Me In, Two:  Long-term predictors of math achievement in children), and the evaluation of the Community Aboriginal Recreation Activator initiative with the Ministry of Health Promotion.  She is primary investigator on the CIHR funded Knowledge Synthesis Grant:  Nurturing the Next Generation, in partnership with Peel Public Health and the subsequent Parent Experiences Study.  Recently, she has also begun work with Roots of Empathy to support the development of a culturally-appropriate assessment protocol to use with Aboriginal communities.