Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) is a common neurodevelopmental condition caused by exposure to alcohol in the womb, resulting in a range of physical, cognitive, behavioral, and social-emotional challenges.
People with FASD often require ongoing assistance to manage daily activities and avoid negative outcomes. Their needs are complex and require support from multiple disciplines and sectors. Integrated services are essential for this population and NEAFAN as a separate entity of the Alberta FASD Network follows an integrated approach that delivers coordinated FASD support and services in the northeast region of Alberta.
To provide a better understanding of the Alberta FASD Service Network model and to inform future research, practice, and policy a 2021 study aimed to review the evidence on this model, including its aims, impacts, and challenges, to inform future research, practice, and policy in the field of FASD.
- People with Disabilities: Better awareness of FASD, access to assessment and diagnosis, and life-long supports for individuals, caregivers, and families all have important impacts on long-term wellbeing for people with FASD. Tangible benefits include increased safety, stability, and health; improved self-understanding and self-worth; greater autonomy; and stronger community engagement.
- Professionals: Increased awareness and understanding of FASD, as well as cross- disciplinary networking and collaboration, improve capacity for effective service provision and supports for individuals with FASD, their caregivers, and their families. Service provider knowledge, confidence, and competence in working with individuals with FASD can be improved through targeted FASD training initiatives.
- Policy Makers: The Alberta FASD Service Network model has led to notable individual, community, and societal level impacts, and may be adapted inter-provincially and/or nationally with the potential for cost savings and more effective supports for individuals with FASD, their caregivers, and families. Federal policy makers should consider the promising evidence identified in this review and build upon the successes in Alberta by developing a coordinated national FASD strategy for all Canadians.