REACH Society in Delta offers family-centred support

The REACH society supports children and their families
/ Community

When families have the resources they need to support their child with special needs, the entire family benefits by becoming stronger and more resilient. That’s why, when we were looking for ways to support families through community investment in Delta, we chose REACH Child and Youth Development Society (REACH) and its family-centred programs for children with disabilities and diverse abilities, and their families. 

REACH Child and Youth Development Society

Shoes hang over a ledge

Since 1959, REACH non-profit society in Delta has been helping children with disabilities and diverse abilities reach their full potential through timely, accessible and supportive community programs and services. Between 1,200 and 1,500 children and their families in the communities of Delta, Surrey, White Rock and Langley benefit from REACH’s services annually.

Camille Netherton, REACH’s associate executive director, says, “REACH’s focus is to serve children from birth to age 25. Families that have any kind of concern about their child’s development can come in and talk to us and we will try to find the proper program to serve their needs.”

Positive Connections

Camille Netherton, associate executive director, REACH Society
Camille Netherton, associate executive director, REACH Society ​​​​​

Waitlists for some of the government-funded behaviour support programs for children and youth with disabilities and diverse abilities can be extremely long. For families without the tools or resources to help their child, the wait for help can be painful. When REACH became aware of the long waiting list, they developed a short-term program called Positive Connections, together with the Ministry of Children and Family Development, to help bridge the gap.

“One of the things I love about REACH is how responsive we are to the communities,” says Camille. “Positive Connections was developed at a time when there was a long waiting list for behaviour support programs—and there is still a long waiting list, so it’s needed just as much now as before.”

Positive Connections is an intensive positive behavior support program for the whole family. It has three components: group learning for parents; in-home visits with a behaviour consultant; and SibShops, a program for siblings of children who have special needs diagnoses.

With funding from FortisBC, we were able to expand SibShops beyond the summer day camp program that we run in July and August, and make it a year-round program.

Camille Netherton

associate executive director, REACH Society

SibShops Program for siblings of children with a diagnosis

Three smiling siblings

“SibShops is so important because often siblings become caregivers later in life or have a lot of responsibility for helping the family with the child with the diagnosis,” says Camille. “We felt those kids needed some support, needed to feel connected and needed to know that they’re not alone.”

“In the program, we hear kids say things like ‘I thought I was the only person who had a special sibling’ or ‘I know my mom and dad love me, but they don’t spend much time with me because my sibling needs a lot of their attention.’ And we also have kids come in who are afraid of their special sibling. It’s amazing to see how much they learn through the program in a short period of time, and how much their attitudes shift towards becoming more understanding, loving and generous toward their sibling than they were before.”

FortisBC invests where we live and work

FortisBC invests in a variety of communities, including Delta, where we are expanding our Tilbury facility. 

REACH employees pose with a FortisBC team member
Joanne Hunton-Sehdev, community relations manager, FortisBC (front, centre) joins REACH Society staff members (L to R) Jeanette Trombley, Angela Ruel, Tamara Veitch and Tassia Pickard to celebrate FortisBC’s continued support of REACH’s programs.

A big part of our community investment activities involves supporting local organizations and the great work they do.

Joanne Hunton-Sehdev

community relations manager, FortisBC

“We’re proud to support REACH Society and the SibShops Program. It’s the kind of inclusive, collaborative family support communities are craving,” says Joanne.

In 2020, FortisBC made an initial three-year commitment to fund SibShops. This year, we extended that commitment for three more years. “The ‘FortisBC SibShops’ Program now runs once a month from September to June,” notes Camille. “Knowing that we have FortisBC’s support for three more years makes a huge difference in terms of planning and organizing. Both the staff we hire for the program, and the families we’re serving have the comfort of knowing this is not a temporary program.”

FortisBC for Families Program

Hand drawn "FRIENDS" poster

As our partnership with REACH grew, we looked for additional ways to support them. In 2023, we provided REACH with funding for a new program to support sc̓əwaθən məsteyəxʷ (Tsawwassen First Nation) families. “We like to take an integrated and inclusive approach to community investment,” says Joanne. “We explore all aspects of a community and look for ways we can boost collaboration between groups by providing additional support. The FortisBC for Families Program will also provide that extra support for sc̓əwaθən məsteyəxʷ families.”

Camille explains why the FortisBC for Families Program is so important and how it will work: “We’ve had our Reconciliation Action Plan at REACH for several years. We're committed to learning, growing and doing our part towards Reconciliation. That includes being guided by our Indigenous partners to make sure that we’re assisting the Indigenous community in ways that are meaningful to them.

“This year, the FortisBC for Families funding will support a designated REACH behaviour consultant for Indigenous Communities to address potential cultural barriers which can limit access, critical services and supports. This program also provides education, planning and in-person support for children with extra needs and their families in partnership with sc̓əwaθən məsteyəxʷ.

“Before we had the FortisBC funding, this program wouldn’t have been possible,” Camille explains. “We just didn’t have the means to do it. Having FortisBC’s community support now gives us the flexibility to be responsive to the sc̓əwaθən məsteyəxʷ community.”